So today we witnessed the beginning of E3 2009.
It should be a return back to form, back to the E3 of the past, that was first seen as too crazy for its own good and downsized and then missed for it was bringing the Wows (and media attention besides video game "enthusiast press") to the world of video games.
So E3 is back.
And MS kicked it off.
They showd games, quite a lot of them.
Started out with things in the vibe of "we´ve got all these great multi platform titles",
went on to "and we´ve got all these great exclusive titles" and then went on to unveiling Project Natal, MS´ answer to motion controls and the "bring nongamers into gaming who were put off by overcomplexificated controls" movement Nintendo kicked off with the Wii.
So what is Natal? MS was sparse on sharing technical details on the stage.
It seems like it is a camera that has such evolved motion sensing and recognition capabilities that it allows to realize fully motion controlled games with very high precission detection and feedback.
Added to that is a voice recognition component and both of those together allowed them to pull off some pretty catchy demo applications.
Initial crowd reaction shows that some call it a Wii or EyeToy ripoff, others see the next big video game controls evolution in it, if not a revolution for the whole industry, a total game changer.
As video game developer, just like as player, i find the technology very intriguing, even if i have quite some doubts we´re already at the technological evolution step at which something like this can work as well as MS (and my favorite hype man of em all, Peter Molyneux) wanted us to believe with their demos.
I felt that, besides what they showd and announced it was also very interesting what they *didn´t show and announce* : Release date and price for Natal.
With them saying dev hardware has just been handed out to dev teams that gives the impression it probably won´t be anytime within the next half year.
It also gives me the impression that, besides the demos being impressive, this Natal demonstration was way less about Natal than it was about showing the Media:
MS is sticking with the Xbox 360 for now and for a good while in the forseeable future, The "new Xbox experience" movement started with the Dashboard Update with Avatars and all is taken on to Phase 2 with Natal in a while and it seems the clear focus with this presser was to tell anyone who wondered whether MS is working on a next console gen that yeah, the Xbox 360 is the current gen and,well, since they basically reinvent it it is their current and next console for a good while,too.
I´m cautiously optimistic and hope this works as well as the demos suggested, it still wouldn´t be a replacement for all controllers for all game types, neither the control option all gamers would prefer all the time, but hey, meanwhile we should have all learned the market, audiences and expectations are so varied today that there can´t be something like that anyway.
At the very least it could offer a very interesting and appealing way to control *some* game types and be appealing to *some* (many) players, and overall MS, no matter if one likes it or not has opened E3 2009 with a propper bang.
The right presser for the right audience, or the right presser for all?
MS also seems to have learned from Nintendo´s E3 2008 debacle:
Let´s remember: Nintendo pushed hard to expand the appeal of game´s to audiencess which weren´t that much into console gaming, but then seems to have forgotten about their hardcore gamer fanbase and also that E3 basically mostly caters to that audience and then showd off stuff which made that audience wonder a lot at E3 2008.
Grown up people acting weird trying to sell disappointing Wii Music to the masses and saying there´s stuff for hardcore gamers too to then unveil what Nintendo sees as fitting for that audience now is a rehash of DS animal crossing with added weirdo room recording mic.
MS was clever, very clever this year.
The first part of their presser should show they´ve got the beatles game that caters to all,
then they showd all the "hardcore gamer games" to satisfy all those guys and hey, then they put the , let´s call em "new audience" stuff with Natal at the end.
Showing: we cater to all,
and not in sucky wannabe halfbaked way (let´s best forget about the 2008 you´re in the movies presentation =) ), nay, they´ve got the propper beef making each group really happy.
Will be VERY inteteresting to see what Nintendo and Sony show in the next two days.
I´d LOVE to be in the meeting rooms of those two giants to see which discussions they have right now, how if at all they change their pressers in the last minute.
Good to have the E3 back.
With all its lovely (giants trumping each other soap opera like) craze.