Monday, August 07, 2006

And the long awaited first-place winner: Microsoft

First things first. Now that the total reinvention of E3 has finally hit us all, I’d like to offer a few choice words: what the heck? The show was our gaming oracle, man! We got all useful information from pretty much two big-budget gaming cons; and it was without a doubt that the Electronic Entertainment Expo trumped the Tokyo Game Show every year.

Now instead of filling the LA convention center with 60,000 exhibitors, E3 will now be confined to various Los Angeles hotel exhibition rooms and the invite list will be cut down to 5,000 select attendees. Apparently, the big guys such as Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, and EA felt E3 was consuming a larger and larger portion of their budget each year as they tried to out-flash their competitors. All smoke and mirrors? Yeah, it kinda was, but it’s also what made the expo such a fun thing to follow.

But anyway, in hindsight, the 2006 E3 gaming expo was truly a remarkable event. A landscape achievement in the gaming industry. The next-generation was unveiled at E3, on all fronts. Not one company had a significant advantage over the other as each had their own secret weapons. Even with all the bad pieces of news that came out of this year’s E3, such as the absurd price of the PS3 or the severely lacking visual power of the Wii, console games have evolved from a childish pastime into a sophisticated element of the home theatre and entertainment as a whole.


For me, the reason why Microsoft takes number one in my rankings is because of the vision that the Xbox360 will be able to unite all platforms of entertainment in a seamless fashion. From PC gaming to movies, the 360 will be able to achieve the ‘media hub’ fantasy that Sony has been dreaming of since it rolled out the PS1. The “Windows Live” service looks mighty interesting, especially to a person like me, who stopped being a part of the console gaming scene when Half-Life came out in 1998. Online multiplayer matches between PC and console gamers? Sign me up. Sony has tried that model with one game: Final Fantasy XI (of which I’ve invested hundreds of hours in) connected PS2 players with PC players in a MMORPG setting; a perfect genre to introduce this kind of service. But this started back in 2002. Four years later and it’s the only game that seems to enjoy it’s place as the only PC-console cross-platform game out there. The 360 hopes to integrate this kind of gaming across different genres.

The 360’s lineup looks mind-blowing. Gears of War, Shadowrun, Call of Duty 3. One might also recognize that some of these titles will also be seeing the light of day on the PC, not just the console. Let’s see what they want to do with that.

Two words though: Live Anywhere. This idea pretty much sold me and I can’t wait to see how this evolves.

Live Anywhere. Live Anywhere. Live Anywhere. /Ballmer


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