E3 Roundup (The Story so Far and Project Natal)
It’s been a busy past 48 hours for the Microsoft team responsible for the E3 press briefing. If ever there were concern that E3 has lost its luster, this was the presentation to prove otherwise. A few of the highlights before I get into the rest:
- Sir Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and George Harrison’s wife on-stage to promote Rock Band: The Beatles. A nice touch that all proceeds from the game developer and Microsoft for download of the song, “All you need is love” is going to Doctors without Borders.
- Steven Spielberg in the house to lend his voice of support to, “Project Natal“. This is one that has to be seen to be fully understood. Full motion capture, facial recognition, and voice control available for every Xbox 360. To quote Spielberg, “This is a pivotal moment that will carry with it a wave of change, the ripples of which will reach far beyond video games.”
- Zune is coming to Xbox. Video Marketplace is now powered by Zune and will offer the complete movie library instant on up to 1080p quality – no discs, no delay. And if you want to watch that movie with friends online, you can meet up for a Party online with up to 7 others in a virtual screening room with your friends (you can go full screen as well). For any fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, you’ll recognize the concept is primed for Harold and Kumar or Snakes on a Plane get-togethers online.
- Last.fm is coming to Xbox 360 as well as Twitter and Facebook. With Facebook Connect, you’ll be able to match your FB friends with their Xbox LIVE Gamertags making it easier than ever to figure out who Hang1nAr0und8763 is and whether you want to join their party.
- Sky.TV. This will be one to watch – Sky is bringing their live and on-demand service “Over the Top” and delivering to the Xbox via your broadband connection with no additional hardware required.
- Lots of Halo goodness. First there’s Halo ODST – Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. We saw the first in-game cinematics from the opening of the game. Then we learned Bungie is working on Halo: Reach, a new addition to the Halo canon no doubt in part based on the first Halo novel, “The Fall of Reach“. I noticed an easter egg during the intro trailer for ODST – you can see in a someone has tagged a wall with graffiti, “Remember Reach” in the New Mombasa area.
- 1 vs. 100 Beta. On behalf of my team I’m proud to say Xbox LIVE Primetime is off to a good start. Last night’s opening session filled up in record time as our live events have opened up to the public. Hats off to our beta launch partner, Sprint – in this live-event game-show modeled after Endemol’s own hit TV show real Xbox LIVE members can compete for prizes including a big-screen HDTV, laptop, and much more.
There’s even more, but that’s a good start. I’ll post more thoughts on Project Natal later. Check out all the E3 briefing details here.