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Microsoft E3 press conference preview: Redemption song

After a bruising twelve months, team Xbox is back on the right track at the perfect time

One can only imagine how deeply frustrating it is for Microsoft executives to know that the Xbox One is still a name associated with bad decisions.

Not only that, but poorly communicated bad decisions, awkwardly endorsed by the company's representatives before a sudden and dramatic reversal amid a chorus of outrage.

The past may be prologue, but the Xbox team are desperate to draw a line under the whole debacle, and E3 will offer that chance.


Phil Spencer, the new head of Xbox, seems to take a no-nonsense approach to business matters. His first major decision was - controversially for some - to drop Kinect from the Xbox One bundle, thereby eliminating the PS4's significant price advantage. This was undoubtedly a painful choice, not least because it effectively eliminates the most unique aspect of Xbox One, and near enough guarantees that the industry will neglect the 3D camera that Microsoft has poured so much investment into.

Importantly, it shows that Microsoft is willing to take the necessary steps to manoeuvre the Xbox One into a stronger position, even if they are drastic, which bodes well for the console. But it also means the difference between Xbox One and PS4 is becoming negligible from a hardware perspective. It's no coincidence that Spencer has also reformed the Live Gold subscription service to closely resemble Sony's PlayStation Plus.

The wider strategy here is that eventually there will be very little to distinguish the two systems, aside from software, which is one area where Microsoft often has the upper hand.

So expect to see Spencer's no-nonsense approach return at Microsoft's E3 press conference, where the hardware manufacturer will likely showcase an extraordinary volume of high quality triple-A games and content, much of which will be exclusive.

"[Microsoft] will likely showcase an extraordinary volume of high quality triple-A games"

One of these projects is in development at what Spencer has referred to as an "awesome Japan studio", which makes Platinum Games among the likely candidates. Whether this game will be revealed prior to the Tokyo Game Show in September is another matter entirely. Our gut feeling says it will.

Up in the air too is Microsoft's suite of TV programmes and video content deals, which it probably would love to flaunt, but nightmares from last year's Xbox One reveal may ensure these deals are saved for a later date. Recent Xbox press events have been noticeably jumbled, and Microsoft's new agenda is an unflinching focus on nothing but games.

It's also a year or two too early to begin discussing the Kinect VR Glasses, that is, if the project has internally been commissioned. Having only just torn Kinect from its Xbox roots, it seems highly risky to start introducing new tech so soon.


Microsoft's E3 will be nothing but a game reveal extravaganza, and with Sony possibly facing a thin 2014 release slate, this could become a major advantage.

One shouldn't underestimate the wider economic situation here too. Sony is in a financially dangerous position, having recently reported a third successive annual loss despite its comprehensive cost-cutting operation. Microsoft, by contrast, has recently posted record-breaking revenue figures.

How Spencer will take advantage of his far bigger budget will likely be a determining factor, especially since it's so far behind in terms of indie support.

The journey ahead will be difficult for Microsoft, but it can still achieve the extraordinary. While there are still those who associate Xbox with its past problems, its lack of focus, and its infamous consumer-hostile policies, this E3 will likely prove that such views are becoming outdated.

Microsoft's E3 press conference takes place on Monday, June 9, at 9am Pacific Time (5pm UK time) - CVG will be covering the event live with live video, live text and up-to-the-minute news