Put simply, this has to be one of the single dullest conferences I’ve ever watched. I’ve seen worse shows, like Nintendo 2008 and Sony 2006, but those were train-wrecks of such magnitude they had a legitimate amusement factor to them.
Microsoft 2011 was comprised of a few bright spots presented by third parties, an abundance of Kinect filler, and a couple exclusives to keep the enthusiast press awake.
From third parties, Tomb Raider was most impressive. The action was gratingly referred to as “visceral” by its presenters, but that’s exactly what it was. Impressive camera work and dialogue seemed engrossing. It’s hard to really credit Microsoft with anything here though, they just lucked out by getting the non-exclusive game demoed with them first. Modern Warfare 3 and Mass Effect 3 were there too. They looked decent, but hey, they’re nothing new.
The conference was largely filled with Kinect support, most of it unappealing, especially to the enthusiasts watching. It’s as if Microsoft has learned nothing from Nintendo’s experiment with the Wii. Showing games that appeal to everyone works to build hype for your system (see: Wii Sports), showing games that only appeal to “family” and/or “casual” audiences only annoys the people paying attention and lowers interest in your product overall.
When I think back to this conference, I’ll remember things like Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster, Disneyland Adventures, and the obnoxious kids demoing both. That’s not a memory you want to leave with people who do nothing but talk about your product all year.
Microsoft managed to trot out a few exclusives, but they were all from exhausted franchises, and none were surprising. Froza 4, Gears of War 3, Halo CE Anniversary, and Halo 4 will sell to Microsoft’s audience no doubt, but I don’t see them lighting up imaginations either.