E3 2018 is a week away. It’s crazy to think that the biggest video game expo in the world is right around the corner. Kicking off the event, as usual, are the press conferences for some of the most well-known companies in the industry. On Sunday, June 10th, Microsoft will be taking the stage to talk about the future of the brand, what games we can look forward to this year, and hopefully announce some new games that will come out in the future. The Xbox Enthusiast team has predicted what we think might happen (my predictions and Steve’s predictions) but with a recently revealed runtime of two hours, what can Microsoft possibly talk about for that long? Is a two-hour conference overstaying its welcome? Let’s dive in.
It’s no secret that Xbox fans what an answer to the biggest question people have been asking for years; “Where are the games?” As a loyal Xbox fan, it’s discouraging to find myself spending so much time playing video games on other consoles. Sure, Sea of Thieves is entertaining, and I really liked State of Decay 2, but with games like God of War and Detroit: Become Human on PlayStation 4, the games that I find myself giving end of year accolades to will probably be on a competitor’s platform. Microsoft has a unique opportunity to capitalize on a surprising move made by Sony this year. A few weeks ago, Sony announced that their press conference would focus on Spider-Man, Death Stranding, Ghosts of Tsushima, and The Last of Us: Part 2. These are all games that I’m excited about, but I find it weird that Sony would flat out tell people what their conference will consist of. Do I believe that there will be a few surprise announcements? Sure, but the joy of watching a press conference is for the unpredictability. This year, we already know most of what to expect.
Microsoft is a wildcard in 2018. They already have all the best services that fans could as for, including Xbox Game Pass, Games With Gold, EA Access, and backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 and original Xbox games. What other services could the company possibly introduce? There might be a limited edition Xbox One X variant announced, but it’s highly unlikely that the next generation console will be revealed, especially since the Xbox One X isn’t even a year old yet. What can Microsoft talk about for almost two hours? The answer points to games.
What kind of games are we talking about? Well, Crackdown 3 is a certainty. While we haven’t seen the game in action in a very long time, we need an update on the (possibly troubled) sequel. I fully expect Ori and the Will of the Wisps to make an appearance, and I’ll be shocked if Forza Horizon 4 doesn’t turn out to be a real video game. These are things we know about/anticipate but what about other franchises. I think Halo 6 will make an appearance, and while my colleagues believe it will be a 2019 title, I’m slightly crazy in thinking that it’ll be a tentpole title for THIS year. It’s also not out of the realm of possibility for a new Gears of War game to get some stage time.
What Microsoft needs to do, and I’ve mentioned this plenty of times, is to either reveal new IPs or revitalize existing franchises that have laid dormant for years. Wouldn’t it be cool for a new MechAssault, one of the earliest Xbox titles to be rebooted? What about Crimson Skies, one of the pioneer titles in the beginning stages of Xbox Live. I’ve often campaigned for Moon Studios, the team behind Ori and the Blind Forest to take a crack at the Banjo-Kazooie. Rare Studio Head, Craig Duncan mentioned to IGN about being open to other development teams working on its IPs. The studio has a rich catalogue full of IPs like Conker, Banjo-Kazooie, Jet Force Gemini, Cobra Triangle, Battletoads, Viva Pinata, and a whole bunch more. Wouldn’t it be great for Microsoft to take advantage of the wide variety of properties they own?
What about Fable? There have been rumblings that Playground Games has been working on a new installment of the Fable franchise. I’d love to see a trailer indicating that the game is in fact in development. I’ve been recently outspoken about CGI trailers, and how they are often a disservice to the game it’s promoting. While I stand by my statement, at this point, Microsoft is better off showing CGI trailers for new games instead of showing nothing at all. Even if their new titles are 3-4 years out, let gamers and consumers know that you have something in the pipeline. What we need the most is reassurance that the brand we’re supporting will come through for us in the end.
Games will make or break the conference. Those two hours must be used to its fullest potential. Don’t waste time debuting the newest car for Forza Horizon 4. Don’t spend too much time talking about entertainment, and stick to what the fans want. Demos are wonderful, surprising reveals and third-party partnerships are fantastic, but new exclusives are what will win people over. There are plenty of ways to squander a two-hour press conference. Microsoft must have surely known about its blunders in the past. I’m optimistic that Phil Spencer and his team will utilize the run-time to its maximum potential, but a lot is riding on this conference. The brand has hit a roadblock over the years, and unless they come out of the gate swinging, the next few years for Microsoft may be an even bigger hill to climb. We have one week until the big event, and I’m excited, but honestly, I’m nervous. This is the most important conference Xbox will ever have. Hopefully, all of this anticipation will have a satisfying payoff.