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E3 2006: Microsoft Connects Everything and Shows Something Called Halo 3

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Microsoft didn’t wait to show off the big guns, beginning the show with Gears of War. Cliff Bleszinski introduces himself and the first level. The interesting camera accentuates the heavy action and unbelievable gore. Peter Moore is then introduced to take over as he would for the majority of the conference.

He begins by dispelling shortage rumors, and five million consoles will be sold by next month. They’re ramping up production, and the console has achieved these numbers faster than Xbox and PS2 at this point. It’s even beating the iPod, and games and accessories sell more per console than any other platform.

Three things have been done since the 360 launched, he says. These include HD gaming, friends over Xbox Live, and linking media. Xbox Live innovations have changed how we played, and they’ll have six million members by next years E3. Fifty-seven percent of 360 users are on Live, and the Live Arcade is a big reason. A montage of Live Arcade releases follows:

Pac-Man
Contra
Super Contra
Frogger
Galaga
Sonic
Defender
Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Time Pilot
Scramble

Moore then announces more like Namco’s Ms. Pac-Man, Dig Dug and Rally X. Konami will have Frogger, Super Contra, Track & Field, Time Pilot, and Scramble. He confirms the Konami code will work on Contra. He also says Midway will have Root Beer Tapper.

One hundred developers are currently signed on for the Arcade. He makes the announcement of Lumines Live for the Live Arcade with all standard Live features. This leads to a second montage:

Lost Planet
Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis
Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway
Mass Effect
NHL 2K7
F.E.A.R.
Too Human
Viva Piñata
Moto GP 06
Lord of the Rings Battle for Middle Earth
Sonic The Hedgehog

Madden 07
Saint’s Row
Smackdown vs. Raw 2007
John Woo Presents Stranglehold
Test Drive Unlimited
NCAA Football 07
Dead Rising
DDR
Timeshift
Superman Returns
NBA 2K7
Ninety-nine Nights
Gears of War

Moore comes back to applause and says Pro Evolution Soccer will debut on 360. He states depth of titles are important, and that leads into a Fable 2 trailer. Peter Molyneux given applause again as he moves into Forza Motorsport 2 which promises more customization. They make note that this will be a franchise they’ll push. The game will feature 300 cars, the ability to tune and paint as you wish, 12 players online, and it’s all releasing this holiday season.

Moore also announces three new accessories, including a wireless, force feedback steering wheel, a new wireless headset, and the Xbox Live Vision camera. The latter will allow the player to customize their Xbox Live Gamertag, or their characters in games like Rainbow Six: Las Vegas. These are all due for a fall release.

Blue Dragon is shown, and this is a lead in to discuss the content for the Japanese market. He mentions Dead or Alive Extreme 2, and that trailer will be up later this week on Live Marketplace. He briefly runs down the Tom Clancy game series and its accomplishments. This is done to lead into the Splinter Cell Double Agent trailer, a game due in September.

Viva Piñata becomes the focus, as is the family friendly nature. Game play is explained as a demonstration is given. It’s unique in how you grow the world. Extras will be downloadable from the Marketplace, and you’ll have the ability to trade piñatas with friends. This is another holiday release. Lego Star Wars II is mentioned along with the new Sonic the Hedgehog.

Moore begins to run down stats for the Xbox Live Marketplace, including the 18 million downloads they’ve had so far, and 1,000 items will be up as of tonight. All publishers have content up now in the Marketplace. He says this changes the way people play games, and used the jump in pre-orders for Fight Night Round 3 as proof. The games sales jumped by over five times a week after it debuted. A docu-drama on Gears of War will soon be up, and a MTV special will air next week.

The Xbox 360 HD-DVD player was shown. He says the stand-alone HD-DVD players are out of stock in stores everywhere as are the movies. The player will be available this holiday, but no price was given.

In a replay of a classic E3 moment, Moore pulls off his jacket, rolls up sleeve, and reveals a tattoo. He says, “Some guys do rubber ducks, some guys do tattoos.” That tattoo reveals Grand Theft Auto IV, and he announces it will be on the Xbox 360 first on Oct. 16, 2007 for US audiences, and the 19th for Europe. The game will feature episodic content of the game on Live.

The focus now shifts to Windows, and they say Vista will be the most game friendly OS ever. The Crysis developer shows off their demo running on XP, followed by a Windows Vista games montage. “Vista is built to run games,” says Moore. Its easier installation, family settings, and games accessible from start menu add to that user-friendly nature. Bethesda started a merging of 360 and Windows with Elder Scrolls, and that will continue with FASA’s Shadowrun. The trailer shows game play and he says it’s only on MS systems, to coincide with the Vista launch. This is followed by a brief Alan Wake trailer.

Bill Gates is brought on stage, and he says to be a big fan of Project Gotham Racing 3, while his family loves the Arcade. He says games should be available on all platforms, including mobile phones. He reassures steady stock levels, and says before the competition enters the market, they’ll have a 10 million-user base. Live will keep expanding, and they have ideas to keep this moving. He hints but does not elaborate on MSN Messenger integration.

He pushes more numbers, like 150 million gamers across all Microsoft platforms. That leads to the announcement of Live Anywhere, which is a part of Windows Vista, Xbox Live, and Windows Mobile. These will all feature one online community. As such, all Gamertags and Achievement Point go with you across all platforms.

Windows Mobile will be a focus, including the ability to start a game on the Xbox and continue it on their cell phone. You will even be able to set up a download on your phone so it downloads on another platform like the 360.

They begin a demo of Shadowrun, and the friends list now shows what platform they’re on, whether it be a mobile phone, Xbox 360, or Vista. He sends an invite to Live director Major Nelson who is on Windows Vista. They then show his desktop with his Gamertag and friends list. The game invitation pops up with the ability to show a Gamer Score comparison with one click. Each player will be able to set their control preferences, whether that be a keyboard/mouse combination or controller. Live Marketplace is then revealed on a cell phone. Once a game is bought, it’s available on all platforms. They use Zuma to show this. When the game is downloaded on the cell phone, it can then be played on the 360 and Vista.

They asked the Forza developers to give a demo of what this could lead to. As such, Major Nelson sends a car to Gates’ Windows Mobile cell phone. This could be used later when they play online, but you’re also able to make tweaks to the car right there on the phone and send it to the 360. This was a quick concept show. This is all available on the show floor to see.

Gates invites Peter Moore back to close. He concludes with more numbers, and states 160 games will be out by this holiday for the 360. They begin walking off the stage, but forgot to mention one thing:

Then they jokingly introduce the world’s first trailer for Halo 3 as “something the audience might want to see.”

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • http://www.jeffkouba.com/myblog/blogger.html Jeff

    Nice summary…