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Xbox One at E3 focusses on games but loses focus of its identity

OPINION on Xbox One E3 conference: TrustedReviews are at E3 in LA covering all the latest gaming news. Evan Kypreos shares his view on Microsoft’s press conference.

Microsoft has not so much back-tracked as made a full scale retreat on the Xbox One. Pleased as I am that draconian DRM measures are a thing of the past and that those who really don’t fancy Kinect don’t have to pay for it, there’s no denying that the Xbox E3 2014 conference was weak. There was very little to make the Xbox One stand out from the crowd.

Microsoft played it safe, too safe.

“Today we are dedicating our entire briefing to games” started Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. It’s a pity so few of them were Xbox One exclusives. 

SEE ALSO: Sony and the PS4 won E3 2014

The press conference started with “the bestselling franchise in Xbox history”. Which Xbox exclusive title is that? Is it Halo? Nope it’s Call of Duty, a series also available on Playstation and PC. While Xbox One owners will get add-on content first it’s hardly the must-buy title that will make you dash out to get an Xbox One over a PS4.  

The press conference carried on with Evolve (also on PC and PS4), Assassin’s Creed Unity (PC and PS4), the Witcher 3 (PC and PS4) and Dragon Age Inquisition (you guessed it, PC and PS4). 

Focus was given to these AAA cross-platform games in a conference that should have done everything to raise the perception of the Xbox One as something different, as a console like no other. Getting some DLC content on these titles first just won’t be enough of an incentive to most.

There was a small silver lining, though, with some updates on Xbox exclusive titles. The Halo Master Chief Collection will please many die-hard Halo fans while they wait for Halo 5. Who doesn’t miss the multiplayer bliss of Halo 2? Forza Horizon 2 looks stunning and Sunset Overdrive could be a fun new IP. Others looked less promising. Can Fable reinvent itself after the dreadful Journey with Fable Legends? I’m not convinced.

Phil Spencer didn’t lie at the start of the presentation; it was all about the games. What was surprising was the total lack of any mention of the Kinect. Not a single major game shown used the Kinect in a meaningful way. Without it is there enough to give Xbox the edge over the PS4 and its superior graphical capabilities? What makes the Xbox One different? What gives it a unique identity?

Not much at all. Microsoft still points to Xbox Live, but PSN has closed the gap and offers a comparable service that some find superior. ID@Xbox has led to a number of great indie games, but then so has Sony and Steam. 

It’s hard to see how Microsoft is going to make the Xbox One a must-buy console. It needs more killer IPs and it needs to offer something that people actually want, like the PS4 and PS Vita Remote Play.  

“We showed you that this holiday the best place to play games is the Xbox One” concluded Phil Spencer at E3. Sorry Phil, you only showed us that it is a place.

Next read: Xbox One vs PS4

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