Perhaps still reeling from the criticisms they received a couple of weeks ago that their Xbox One console reveal focused too much on television entertainment and not so much on the actual games, Microsoft’s 90-minute-long pre-E3 press conference was focused almost entirely on game announcements.
These announcements were mostly for the Xbox One, but there were also three new titles announced for the Xbox 360, along with a re-designed, slimmer X360 console unit that hits stores in the US today.
The new X360 console is said to not only be smaller and sleeker from the previous iteration, but it also shares similar design themes with the Xbox One, so that they will fit better – stylistically – in the same living room (which might actually be appealing to some gamers, given that the Xbox One will not play X360 games due to the lack of backwards compatibility.
Apart than the new X360 console, the other major announcement that Microsoft made was something that impacts both existing X360 gamers, as well as those who will be picking up the Xbox One: a series of tweaks to the Xbox Live online member service.
It appears that the Xbox Live Gold membership, a paid subscription required to play online games on the X360, will not be going away. Gold memberships will carry over to the Xbox One when it’s launched later this year in November (in 21 launch territories). However, unlike on the X360, a single Xbox Live Gold membership subscription will grant all gamer profiles on the Xbox One access to online play.
Currently, on the X360 each gamer profile would need his or her own Gold membership subscription; certain games like Halo 4 will let you take into multiplayer games a second (or third or fourth) player on the same console, but the extra player(s) will have to play on guest accounts that do not earn achievements.
Another key tweak to the Xbox Live service is the maximum number of gamertags you can have on your friend’s list. Currently, Xbox Live members can only have up to 100 friends registered; but that limit is going away. A new maximum number was not mentioned, but Microsoft did say that gamers will be able to register as many friends as they want – just like on a social network these days.
Microsoft is also ditching its MS Points digital currency in favour of using local currencies for purchases on Xbox Live moving forth.
On the Xbox One, the online service will also support livestreaming on Twitch.tv – including voice and video support through the new Kinect. Gameplay footage can also be DVR-ed and edited, through an app or feature called the Upload Studio, and shared with your friends.
Finally, beginning July all the way till the release of the Xbox One, new and current Xbox Live Gold membership subscribers will receive two free digital game downloads every month – starting with Assassin’s Creed II and Halo 3 in July.
So when is the Xbox One going to be launched? That would be November 2013 for 21 launch territories, for US$499, 499 Euros, or 429 pounds, depending on the territory. Pre-orders begin today.
That’s all the Xbox announcements Microsoft made at its pre-E3 press conference. Now it’s onto the games!
(Note: We’ll update this post with video footage for the games as they become available; until then, check out the full press conference for the footage.)
Xbox 360 games
World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
Dark Souls II
Xbox One games
Minecraft: Xbox One Edition
Dead Rising 3
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Halo (next-generation; full title TBC)