At E3, Microsoft talks Xbox games, little else

At E3, Microsoft's presentation centered around games, games, and more games. Will taking an Xbox-focused approach be enough to stand up against Sony's PlayStation-of-all-trades strategy?

Jonathan Alcorn/REUTERS
Attendees walk past an Xbox sign at the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo, known as E3, in Los Angeles, California June 10, 2014.

If the 2014 gaming conference E3 were a combat video game, the two titans of gaming would be staring each other down, ready for an epic battle.

Their weapons, however, couldn’t be more different. Sony came out swinging on Tuesday with a press conference that emphasized PlayStation’s versatility as an entertainment system. Microsoft, on the other hand, focused solely on video games. Its presentation zeroed in on its rich library of popular combat and shooter games, with little talk of Kinect, streaming, or TV feature. In the increasingly competitive gaming field, will a broad or narrow focus prove victorious at the end of the day?

Microsoft touted a range of exclusive games for the Xbox One console at its event this week. In the next 12 months, gamers will get a new version of “Halo,” including a re-issue of Halo 1 through 4 called "Halo: The Master Chief Collection." Gamers can also expect new releases in “Forza Horizon 2,” “Sunset Overdrive,” and “Fable: Legends.”

Xbox users were also happily surprised to find that there will be a new Tomb Raider game coming late next year, “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” plus reboots of “Crackdown” and “Phantom Dust."

Microsoft is also adding more third-party developer games, such as additions to Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed: Unity,” and Activision’s “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.”

Exclusive content seems to be Microsoft’s short game, with little indication of what the future holds in a quickly transforming gaming world. There was no talk of virtual reality, cloud-based gaming, cross-platform playing, or smaller consoles, all recent developments that other technology companies have scrambled to adopt.

Sony, for example, appeared to have the opposite strategy with PlayStation. The company announced a soon-to-be-released set top box with streaming video, further developments on cloud-based program PlayStation Now, and a bevy of game announcements, including two for its virtual reality headset Project Morpheus.

Microsoft still can count on many hardcore fans of Xbox exclusive games, and for now it is seeking to solidify that audience. “Our goal is to make Xbox One the best place to play games in this generation,” says Phil Spencer, head of Xbox.

Time will tell whether broad strokes or narrow focus pay off when the game is over.

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