No, no, no. Don't be confused by the "QuickPeek" in the title. This has got nothing to do with the weekly QuickPeeks we offer you guys. This one's the E3 2009 edition. As in, this is a quick look-back at the things that happened, things that were said, things that would have been better off had it actually occurred -- basically a trip back down memory lane -- on the big 3's E3 2008 experience.
Yes, there were a lot of "major" announcements made on games, some more shocking than others (the biggest thunder-stealer for me would have to be FFXIII on Xbox 360). But we'll have a lot more fun detailing that in next week's issue. For the one we have today, we'll be focusing on the hardware announcements, rumors, and catfights among the industry heads. Drama can't get any more real than that. And then we'll see where we're at now. Come full circle, cos it's time for another E3.
Dear loyal readers, occasional passersby, and resident fanboys and flamers, allow me to officially welcome you all to QJ's E3 2009 coverage.
Okay, now here's how this Special Edition will go. We'll remind you what Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft dished out - corporate / hardware wise - from last year's E3 and link you back to the original article for an actual refresher. And then we look at what they've come up so far this year, running up to E3 2009, the "No Swine Flu Can Stop Us Evar" version. Oink.
Close-up in 3, 2, 1...
They were the first among the big 3 to have the presscon, shuffling their way into the halls of the LA Convention Center on July 14, 2008 at 10:30AM. Leading the pack of presentors for Microsoft's Xbox 360 and the games for it was Don Mattrick, senior vice president of interactive entertainment business.
In tow were John Schappert, VP of XBL, Corporate VP of strategy and business development Shane Kim, Todd Howard of Bethesda, Jun Taeuchi for RE5, Lionhead's Peter Molyneux, Cliff Belzinski for Gears of War 2, Rare reps, Red Octane's Kai Huang, iNis founder Keiichi Yano, Harmonix' Alex Rigopulos, and big bomb-dropper Square Enix' Yoichi Wada. Wow, that was quite a posse wasn't it?
But even before the actual presentation began, Microsoft was already gunning out some serious ammunition for the E3 '08 crowd. Just a day before, they had officially announced via press wire that the 20GB model of the Xbox 360 will be getting a price cut in North America, giving it a new mark of US 299.
Completing the one-two prelude punch was the announcement on the new 60GB unit, cos they "know consumers need more and more space to store the amazing digital content Xbox 360 offers." It was given the same launch price of the 20GB model of US 349.
Link: Microsoft officially announces Xbox 360 20GB price cut, unveils 60GB unit
And then came the presscon. The biggest hardware application item that came out that day from MS was the unveiling of the Xbox 360 interface, the New Xbox Experience (NXE). This is where we first caught a glimpse of the new look that will arrive on the XBL, as well as the addition of your virtual me's: the Avatars.
This is where the Rare reps came in. See, the avatars were created by Rare, so of course they were there to give a shout-out as well. The announcement officially ended the era of the Avatars in the Rumor Category, but launched it into a new one, the village of That's-so-Mii Comparison Category.
David Goesen replied later that day to the allegation that it was a Mii rip-off by providing a contrast: the XBL Avatars have arms, necks and legs. The Miis don't. In the same statement, Goesen also took a swing at Sony's Home, giving advice that "we shouldn't hold our breath" with what Sony does with Home. Because it's veh-ryyyyy dangerous. Holding our breaths, I mean. Not Sony's Home.
... Or is it?..
Link: Fall Xbox Live system update to get avatars, new community channel
Link: Microsoft not "holding its breath" on Home, not ripping Miis off
And so the New Xbox Experience was indeed release in November of that year, albeit with some familiar hiccups. It wasn't the smoothest of launches, with reports of RRoD piling up fast, as well as connection freezes, slow downs, lock ups, etc, etc. But eventually, these problems were smoothened out, and everyone went on their merry ways dressing up their avatars and winning free goods from them too.
And as it stands, as of last March, it has been announced that the NXE update will be a mandatory fixture on your console by way of games. Yes, new games coming out this year, starting off with Tom Clancy: H.A.W.X., and MLB:2K9 will be requiring the mandatory update, or less you can't play.
But really, I don't see why you shouldn't.
Link: Woe is you: New Xbox Experience update says hello with RRoD reports
Link: Xbox 360 games starting to include mandatory NXE update
The other big thing they announced was the completion and announcement of the Microsft-Netflix partnership for a video streaming service on XBL, to be included in the Fall Update.
Rumors on it have been circulating since 2007, and it's now come to fruition. While it was announced to be for everybody, Gold Members were promised to have access to more perks such as being able to fast-forward, pause, rewind, and even rate and browse movies.
Link: Netflix and Microsoft formally announce video streaming service included in Fall
And so Netflix video streaming services launched on the XBL, with a lot of movie outfits backing it up. Expectedly Coincidentally, Sony Pictures movies won't play on the streaming service for a while, but Sony denied that the problem was not deliberate on their end, but was in fact not specific to XBL, and was only temporary.
Today, film buffs continue to have their fill of streaming videos on the XBL, even enjoying contests for more freebies and prizes.
Link: Sony pulls a Grinch: Sony movies can't run on Netflix-XBL
Link: Sony Pictures: Netflix issue not specific to Xbox, only temporary
Link: Xbox 360 Netflix sweepstakes: winner gets home theater package
So generally, it was a good E3 year for Microsoft over-all. The price cuts for the 20GB units, as well as the introduction of the new, higher model helped propel the sales of the Xbox 360 to greater heights (but not as great as unassiming Nintendo).
And although there were some ruffling of feathers that went on from the E3 announcements they made, up to the launch and fulfillment of said promises, we now see everything going pretty fluidly in the status quo.
Don't expect this scenario to stay that way for any longer, though. We're just about rounding the corner to the crux of the new E3 year, and as we've already seen thus far, it's all but bursting with excitement.
Can they top their '08 presentation this year? More importantly, how much of their promises will Microsoft be actually able to fulfill? Stay tuned.