In the excitement and hype of E3 week the three console manufacturers take to the stage and make a heap of bold claims, declarations and promises. Their hope is to ignite consumer anticipation for their range of consoles and games that can be nurtured into sales.
But after a year when the hype has passed we can assess which claims were honoured, which hit stumbling blocks and which were just hot air. We ask One Year Later, Did Microsoft Keep their E3 2014 promises?
The Promise: Call of Duty Advanced Warfare DLC will be an Xbox timed exclusive
Was it Kept? On yes. This longstanding partnership is still fruitful for Microsoft. The first two map packs Havoc and Ascendance were released on Xbox 360 and XBO one month before the PlayStation.
The Promise: For FORZA 5 owners, the Nurburgring racing course will be given away for free and be available same day.
Was it Kept? It was. But seven months after the micro-transactions controversy, this reparation could have been more sincere.
The Promise: The Lamborghini Huracan will premiere in FORZA Horizon 2
Was it Kept? Yes. The Lamborghini Huracan was included in FORZA Horizon 2 when it launched in November 2014 and featured on the box art. It didn’t show up in another game until the Drive Club Lamborghini Expansion Pack in March 2015.
The Promise: Forza Horizon 2 will have day-night light cycle
Was it Kept? Yep. After their absence from Forza 5 they featured in Horizon 2. In fact so impressed with some media by the game that Gaming Age and US Gamer each gave it full marks!
The Promise: Evolve DLC will be a timed exclusive on Xbox One. An exclusive open Beta on Xbox One.
Was it Kept? Pretty much, yes. The Xbox One open beta ran from the 15th-19th January 2015. Any XBO owner with LIVE could play. However a smaller ‘technical test’ beta for PC ran from the 16th Jan-19th, and on PS4 from 17th Jan. As well as a limited Alpha on all formats in October 2014.
As for DLC. 2K Games are giving away maps free. The first two maps Broken Hill Foundry and Broken Hill Mine were released on XBO on the 31st March and one month later on PC and PS4.
The Promise: Assassin’s Creed: Unity will allow co-op play with up to 4 friends
Was it Kept? Yes. 2-4 player co-op missions did appear in the final Xbox One. As well as the PC and PS4 editions. A co-marketing deal meant there was an Xbox One Assassin’s Creed: Unity bundle. But the criticism of AC:Unity for its bugs and microtransations meant it was a bad time for Microsoft to associate with the franchise.
The Promise: Dragon Age DLC will be a timed exclusive on DLC
Was it Kept? Yes – with sprinkles on top. Not only was the Jaws of Hakkon DLC content first on Xbox One (and PC). It seems Microsoft worked a non-disclosure agreement into the contract so Bioware were not even allowed to say if the content was coming to other platforms! This was a great boon for Microsoft.
But Xbox 360 and PlayStation owners were left wondering if they would be getting it. Considering this was in the weeks prior to the much anticipated WRPG The Witcher 3, it perhaps gave the impression that those formats would not be supported with DLC – so made it the perfect time to trade in the game! A plus for Xbox One, a big own goal for Bioware.
The Promise: Sunset Overdrive will release exclusively on Xbox One.
Was it Kept? Indeed it was. Sunset Overdrive was released in October 2014 and received substantially positive reviews. Polygon.com’s Arthur Gies was absolutely besides himself with giddy delight for this exclusive.
The Promise: Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha. A Dead Rising 3 4-player co-operative multiplayer will be exclusive to Xbox.
Was it Kept? Bye Golly, yes! This fun expansion and nod to Capcom’s history was first available on 360 and later released on Xbox One.
The Promise: Disney Fantasia Evolved will be released on the 21st October for Xbox 360 and XBO. Harmonix claimed “You’ll become a sorcerer’s apprentice and You’ll remix your favourite songs through expressive motion game play.”
Was it Kept? Yep. The game hit its release date and if you can describe flailing your arms about in front of Kinect as ‘remixing songs through expressive motion game play’ then this promised was kept too!
The Promise: Dance Central Spotlight Exclusively will release as an exclusive digital download on Xbox One
Was it Kept? It was. But this game requires further investigation. It was an odd product that seem designed to not sell copies. It was a Kinect motion controller game. Of course this meant it was not available on PS4. However it was also not available to 360 owners with Kinect, cutting out the install base of 24 million!
So no disc copies, only digital downloads for the Xbox One peripheral that had been openly rejected by many owners. It makes you wonder if the game was produced solely to fill up 5 minutes of E3 stage time? The reviews weren’t good, Official Xbox Magazine UK and Game Informer gave it a measely 60%. However the Polygon.com review gave it a surprisingly high 8/10.
The Promise: Fable Legends Multiplayer Beta coming this Holiday
Was it Kept? It did. First showing it’s head in October. Something interesting. Lionhead perhaps fearing a backlash didn’t use the stage to tell the public that the game had switched to a free-to-play microtransactions model, with microtransactions required to maintain a character of your choice.
The Promise: Conker assets would be available to use in Project Spark.
Was it Kept? In April this year the Conker Create & Play Bundle was released featuring Conker character and level assets. Additionally Conker’s Big Reunion a new game made with Project Spark by Team Dakota was released. There are also a growing selection of home-grown Conker games.
The Promise: Ori & The Blind Forest will be exclusive to Xbox One and will be released Holiday 2014.
Was it Kept? No, it was not. The game was delayed so did not make the Holiday window. Additionally it was also released on PC. There was no mention of this being a ‘console exclusive’ just that it was exclusive. However it did meet with an excellent critical reception. Multiple websites including Twinfinite, Digital Spy and The Sixth Axis full marks meant they categorised it as one of the finest examples of video game entertainment.
Star Personality – Spencer
The star personality of the Xbox conference is undoubtedly Phil Spencer. After he took the reins of the Xbox division this was his, coming- out party as boss man. He had already made the decision to drop the Kinect from standard Xbox One packages, and re-appropriated processing power that had been reserved for Kinect to give the XBO better performance. He gave a shout-out to PlayStation and Nintendo and he even gave a clumsy white-bro fist bump! So seeing him open the conference was a positive that signalled a new chapter for Xbox.
The Promise: All Halo Master Chief Games will be available to play on one console
Was it Kept? Yes. The Halo Master Chief collection included Bungie’s Halo 1-3 and the Halo 4 game made by 343i.
The Promise: To include Halo 1-4 on 1 disc
Was it Kept? No. For the physical release of the collection, arguably Microsoft’s most important promise was broken. Three weeks prior to release Microsoft said the game required a patch. But their use of the word was more than creative as this was not a 500 meg patch or even 1GB patch. It was going to be a TWENTY GB PATCH! (At release it was less big but still a mighty 15GB)
The explanation given was that Microsoft did not want to cut corners and remove content from the disc. But the logical thing to do was release the game on two disc. Considering a digital download version is available making customers who opt for the physical edition download 50% of it goes against the spirit of a disc release.
The Promise: Halo 2 will get the full anniversary treatment
[You will be able to play the maps] “running at 1080p 60 frames per second”
Was it Kept? It depends on whether you are able to accurately decode a sentence that has been said in such a way as to deliberately obfuscate the truth. Halo 2 campaign runs at a sub 1080p -1328×1080. The multiplayer runs at 1080p.
Halo boss Frank O’Connor later said Dan Ayoub was only talking in reference to the multiplayer. He later explained on on NeoGaf “There was no simple way to clarify that in our two minutes on stage at E3,” How about just saying on stage ‘the campaign runs in this resolution and the multiplayer in that resolution?’
The Promise: Halo Master Chief Collection will have 4000 gamerscore
Was it Kept? Indeed it was
The Promise: The Halo 5 Guadians multiplayer will be playable this holiday.
Was it Kept? Oh yes. It began 29th December 2014 and ran until the 18th Jan 2015.
The Promise: Indie game Inside will debut on Xbox in early 2015.
Was it Kept? Not yet… This exciting indie game was expected in the first quarter of the year. It’s still in the oven. Developers PlayDead’s PR have sent an email to media saying that it will be released in the first half of 2015 – so there is still time (maybe a surprise for the E3 2015 stage?)
The Promise: Indirectly promise better support for independent developers
Was it Kept? In some areas yes, in some no. Some movement, positive steps to assist developers with free development kits. However the initial promise to turn every Xbox One into a development kit has yet to materialise – although some clues say it may happen this year.
And the parity policy remains despite Phil Spencer saying in October “I want to rethink how we approach this.” Eight months later and he hasn’t shared any new thoughts on the subject.
The Promise: Rise of the Tomb Raider Holiday 2015
Was it Kept? – In progress… and then some. Somewhere between E3 where the game was not listed as exclusive and Gamescom Microsoft have secured a timed exclusive on the game.
The Promise: A new Phantom Dust is in development
Was it Kept? The game is still in development so yes!
The Promise: Scalebound is a new IP exclusive to Xbox One
Was it Kept? Yes. A release date wasn’t given and the game is still in development.
The Promise: A new open world Crackdown is coming exclusively to Xbox One.
Was it Kept? Yep. The game is still in development.
Why we do this?
Going into this year’s E3 it makes sense to look back at the previous years conferences and hold the Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo accountable for the promises they make to us. Watching the conferences can teach you to tell the difference between empty crowd-pleasing claims and genuine triple-A announcements.
Make sure you watch the One Year Later, Did Microsoft (And Friends) Keep Their E3 2014 Promises and let us know in the comments if there is anything you agree or disagree with!
And look out for the upcoming: One Year Later, Did Sony Keep Their E3 2014 Promises and One Year Later video!