Why Microsoft Won E3 2014

Don't call it a comeback.

Last year was not a great E3 for Microsoft. After an Xbox One reveal that offered a terrible first impression with a comically overdone focus on TV, Sony completely stole the company's E3 thunder by offering the PlayStation 4 at a lower price, with easy used game sharing, and with no online requirement. But this has been a year of change for Microsoft, and nowhere was that more obvious than at this year's E3.

Microsoft's press conference in particular was focused solely on games. With exclusives like Sunset Overdrive and The Master Chief Collection coming later this year, and newly announced games like Scalebound coming in 2014, Xbox One owners received the reassurances they needed that Microsoft had learned from its mistakes and would continue to listen to its fans. And the Xbox 360 is still going strong with multiplatform games from almost every publisher. In 2015 we'll start to see a larger number of current-gen only games, but 2014 is still about making games that play on consoles new and old.

Taking a play from last year's Sony conference, there was even a focus on indies at both Microsoft's booth and the press conference. A montage showcased indie games like Beyond, Mighty No. 9, and Plague, Inc. And Inside, the follow-up to Limbo from developer Playdead, took center stage at one point of the conference.

Microsoft is still focused on providing entertainment services to their platform, but they made sure to get all of that out of the way before E3. The system's original television programming, including info on the Halo series from Speilberg, went out in April. Big updates to the system were covered in simple press releases and blog posts every month. And the bombshell--a Kinect-free version of the Xbox One for $100 less--was announced at the beginning of May.

If anything, that separation of messaging helped to define the Xbox One in the lead-up even more as a machine with a broad audience. Rather than trying to cram every detail into one presentation, thus alienating people that don't care about one aspect or another, Microsoft kept each portion distinct. If you're interested in the TV aspects of the system, there was a time for that. If price and system specs are important to you, Microsoft singled out those updates individually.

But to me, Microsoft didn't come out on top this E3 just because of the improvements it made over the past year. The pacing and content of its press conference were spot on and carried over into the conference itself. There was hardly time to breath in between game trailers and announcements, and Microsoft's messaging to its fans has been humble and eager to please. Sony and Nintendo both had great shows as well, and I look forward to playing some fun games on my Wii U and PS4 in the coming year. But this year Microsoft focused on its fans, and the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, put it best earlier this week, "gamers" won E3.

For more discussion, catch up on GameSpot's full E3 opinion round up right here.

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justinhaywald

Justin Haywald

Senior Editor, Earthbound fan, and snazzy dresser.

E3 2014

E3 2014
189 comments
samurninsai
samurninsai

Doom, Descent, Half-Life, Urban Assault all good PC games. Where are they?

drawknob
drawknob

You'd think a professional writer would know the difference between "breath" and "breathe"; then again, perhaps Justin Haywald is just playing at one.

dyrcosis
dyrcosis

At any time during E3 did Phil Spencer elaborate on Microsoft's "renewed focus on Windows and PC gaming?"  If so, I must have missed it.

darkteddi
darkteddi

Sad that they didn't talk about KI Season 2 during the conference.

rasterror
rasterror

The Xbox conference won it for me. It was a toss up between them and Nintendo which also really delivered but MS showed me what I wanted and made a good presentation. first they started off admitting their faults, thanking Sony and Nintendo, but also showed why they're offering the best this gen. And it was all about the games. I'm a huge Forza and Halo fan so I'm getting two of my favorite franchises this year. Then there was Sunset Overdrive which I can't wait to play. Then the showing of their commitment to the indie developers with ID@Xbox was really good. Ori, oh my God Ori, it was such a beautiful and emotional presentation. Then Inside looked amazing. Their presentation was very professional and well put together. They showed the games and showed them up and running. It just had a quality feel to it. Plus the revival of Phantom Dust is awesome. Every platform had something great to show but for me MS gave me what I what I was looking for.

nintendians
nintendians

I say Nintendo won e3, with or without smash bros. for wii u/3ds. sony was a little better than Microsoft cause I like the uncharted series and m$ show me nothing that I like.

sidneyc1976
sidneyc1976

Microsoft is only singing a different tune because of the last 2 years of horrible sales. After harping on the console that can barely compare to the PS4, they now have to rely on exclusive games. The Kinect- free version is not a bomb shell. Fans were asking for it 6 months before they started selling consoles. Microsoft has a history with ignoring fans until they are losing money. I can understand they feel that profit is more important than people who grew up on Xbox. They still need to finish fixing the Kinect, due to the fact that it should be able to pick up my voice more than 3 feet away. I literally have to be in a silent room, standing close to the console for it to hear my voice commands.

quicktim3
quicktim3

i somewhat agree. i certainly wouldn't say Microsoft "lost E3" by any stretch. But to say then won. ..If anything I would have to give this E3 to Nintendo. Wii U seems to have gotten a new life. It may not end up being a complete disaster.  


If there has to be a loser I would say Sony lost just for the fact they rarely had anything to show for 2014. But they didnt really lose either. 


It was kinda a melo E3 to honest, with no company standing out as the clear winner. 


Ravenlore_basic
Ravenlore_basic

.... to ME, emphasis on the ME aspect, this does not sound like Justin really believes that Microsoft stole the show. I concur that Phil was humble almost to a fault... playing the part of humble gamer who praised his competition.  (still it came off a LOT better than the arrogant Sony of E3s past!!!)

But taking away those kudos points, there was not much given... (from both Sony or Microsoft) SO I would say that this year there was no need for comparing as neither stole the show. Same for last year when it was so one sided Only BLIND fan boys would disagree.... and they did.... they tried as hard as they could to shine that $#!+ up as much as they could. 


whatever flame on GS flame on...


ggregd
ggregd

This article is a great example of damning with weak praise.

BARRICADE_28
BARRICADE_28

MS showed a lot of great games, unfortunately the best ones were either multi-platform (with the exception of Sunset Overdrive) or repackaged Halo games from 1 or 2 generations ago.  I love the new Halo package but I'm not going to spend $400 on a XB1 just to play old games I already own.

Stonecutters908
Stonecutters908

Presentation format and quality was top notch. Everything else was meh. Scalebound could be cool but the CG trailer is merely showing me a concept. The Master Chief collection looks like an immaculate package, but you are selling me games I've already played. Anyone who offers me something new already has a leg up. 

gunnmetal
gunnmetal

of course microsoft won, they showed games.

Gadeos
Gadeos

It's hard to agree with this guy. I have nothing against X1, it's great, but hey! Sony showed Morpheus and PS TV, and their interaction with PS4, now THAT'S real improvement, not just games which by the way are way better on PS4. Halo5 is a winner, but on PS4 the order 1886 and uncharted 4 are some real deal. I believe PS4 was way better

tomservo51
tomservo51

Halo is still the only reason to get the X1. Everything else plays better on PC and PS4.

oflow
oflow

I tend to agree.  Yes MS made mistakes but they do have time to right the ship. They admitted many of their errors and made changes.  The thing I like about MS (that lots of people hate) is MS is still MS.  

They have a ton of cash and can actually make changes if need be.  They are also implementing a lot of features that are already proven solid in the business side.  MS online service is pretty solid and people like to make jokes about it but cloud computing will actually be a boon.  I also prefer the XBOXONE interface. (Sorry but I am also one of the people that actually like windows 8)

The thing that I liked the most about the MS presentation was all the games except a couple were actually played on stage by the presenter in real time.  They were functioning demos and showed what the gameplay would actually look like in those games.

Sony's presentation had mostly CGI trailers.  Yes, Sony games like Bloodborne, The Order and Deep Down look great.  But I would have liked to see them actually flex the muscle of the hardware in real time.  Sony could have actually put a nail in MS if they had done the exact same presentation and showed the same games running on beefier hardware.  Instead Sony did MS's conference from last year.

I think is MS actually converted all the old Live Arcade to the XBOXONE and carried them over, the console would catch PS4 in sales.

(I know this isnt technically possible with all games, but they do do more to give Live the same muscle it has on 360)

robarino
robarino

E3 is about presenting the products that you are about to sell in the coming year.  It's not a track-n-field race, it's not a competition, it's not even a contest, it's a sales presentation. So why the f#@$# do these stupid news outlets keep talking about who "won"?  What exactly did they win? Heck, practically all of then have picked a different "winner".  Just this passed weekend I saw other news articles claiming Nintendo, then Sony "won".  Not much of a "Win" when everyone is picking different "winners".



This stupid habit of news outlets picking "Winners" and "Losers" for practically everything is getting stupid. 

kusto1891
kusto1891

ponies @ 2014 E3  "  we won because Uncharted and the order" had raw trailer snippets

ponies @ 2015 E3  "we won becasuse Uncharted and the order had raw gameplay snippets

brandonbrekke
brandonbrekke

@allen_albright you are so biased. I cannot believe you just said that gears is the most overrated game in history. Have you even played it? As far as the controller goes the reason the ps4 contoller feels so good is because it's a major upgrade from the same controller that they have been using for 15 years. The xbox 360 controller is great and the xbox one did some slight mods to it and it feels and plays great. I am happy with my decision with xbox one. I will get a PS4 if the last Guardian comes around. Sony hasn't really been able to persuade me yet I'm just not a big dark souls fan so bloodbourne isn't that appealing to me. I had a ps3 and loved it. But the only games I really really stuck with me were the last of us and God of war 3 (metal gear solid 4 and littlebigplanet are sweet too). Personally I just don't think Sony is appealing enough for my style of gaming. I've never played uncharted that could be my problem. I think Nintendo is my favorite gaming brand. I think gaming is all about fun and Nintendo hits that on the button.

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

There is no short-changing Microsoft for the wonderful changes they have made to the Xbox none platform recently. It's really amazing to see the Xbox platform come around and transform into something I can get excited about after having such a negative outlook on their policies since my personally bad experiences throughout the Xbox 360 generation and the continuation of that in watching the Xbox One.

The news leading up to E3 was much more exciting to me than what Microsoft showed at E3. There are multiple reasons. I'll mention a few...

Too much focus on shooters. We get it. Xbox controllers are great for shooters. But is that all Microsoft has to offer other than a few potentially decent titles in other genres? I know it's not, but Microsoft puts too much emphasis on gunning down enemies with your Bro's.

More Forza already?

Timed exclusives... I get it. Full console exclusives are diminishing outside of first party games. However, putting content on one platform first isn't much of an incentive to buy an Xbox over the other consoles. Gamers know that content is coming to the other platforms at some point. There has to be more to the console to sell consoles.

Lack of true exclusive content. Microsoft doesn't have many internal studios. So they show a lot of 3rd party games. But, again, the other consoles are showing gamers unique experiences only available on their platforms. Kinect could have been part of that, but we all know what's going on there and it's not great.

Sunset overdrive is the only exclusive that comes close to selling me an Xbox One. But after I'm done with that game there isn't much else that I couldn't do on the other consoles, possibly with a better experience.

Microsoft's E3 2014 presence was safe. Too safe. Boring. Expected. Nothing surprised me. Nothing really got me excited for what's to come on Xbox One. nothing has convinced me that I should get an Xbox One before getting a Ps4 or Wii U.

Microsoft comes in third of the "big 3." This year for me. For these and other reasons.

virtualskill
virtualskill

for me, bloodborne, no mans sky, uncharted, and the order all topped Micrsoft's re-release of Halo and its new colorful zombie game...I dunno.

senorbusyman
senorbusyman

microsoft won in my books plus the pprefered console nintendo gets 2nd & sony hahaha plz they always put me to sleep sony = zzzzzz

iammcgruber
iammcgruber

Probably the first author I've read who feels this way, finally! I'm not saying anyone "won" or anything they were all great, but MS did just come with game after game after game, 9 exclusives to come in 2014, plus great ones too look forward to in 2015 (Halo 5, phantom dust, scalebound, Quantum break?). Nintendo did fine, but I honestly don't think it's fair to compare them to sony and microsoft at this point. They kinda just do there own thing, which is fine, but not the gaming console that ps4 and X1 is.

cainetao11
cainetao11

I feel Nintendo won. MS and Sony were even imo. 

IceJester45
IceJester45

@dyrcosis They're never going to elaborate on that. Microsoft has said it's going to renew its focus on PC gaming over and over again in recent years. I just roll my eyes.

bigmikeOK
bigmikeOK

@darkteddi I'm still psyched from the trailer I saw of the new character for season 2 though!

Regression
Regression

@nintendians There's really no point to you giving your opinion being that you don't even distinguish yourself from Nintendo.  Nintendians with a Link picture.  Really?  If Sony or Microsoft made laser guns that shot unicorn horns into your enemies and exploded into drugs, alcohol, and mouth-kissing prostitutes you'd still be humping Nintendo until it farted out Mii babies.  Get your own identity man.  Otherwise save the obvious opinions.

UncleAnesthesia
UncleAnesthesia

@sidneyc1976 I agree, but I still see it as a positive. Sony started singing a different tune as well when they were down big at the start of last gen. The result was a string of good exclusives. I am optimistic MS will put out some good games to try and catch up.


As far as Kinect, recalibrate it with your volume all the way up. It worked great for me whenever I did that.

adub424
adub424

I am in a similar situation with the PS4 nothing new on the horizon for them till next year. The Last of us is the best thing coming from Sony and it is just a rehash of an old game.

gunnmetal
gunnmetal

@Gadeos wrong e3 is for games, microsoft learned that. ps4 insnt a better console. the controler sucks and those games you talk about are not that great uncharted on ps3 wasnt even awesome so why would it be on ps4

quicktim3
quicktim3

@oflow Yeah and Idk if its true but I heard the Arkham City Demo during Sony press Conference was actually being played on PC lol. 


cheeky sony is cheeky.  

quicktim3
quicktim3

@robarino well they got you to click on the article and comment. that means they succeeded. 

McNeelyJ39
McNeelyJ39

@robarino so why do analysts give NFL or NBA Draft grades following the drafts for the respective sport?  A lot of the people drafted won't start for years.  Sames goes for college football teams.


With that in mind it seems a bit odd of you to be flipping out about E3 coverage giving a take on who did the best job.

oflow
oflow

@robarino Maybe its because the presenters themselves project it as a contest?

oflow
oflow

@virtualskill No Man's Sky will also be on XBOXONE just later than PS4. 

Bloodborne, Uncharted and The Order looked decent but they barely showed gameplay which means those games probably wont even come out til the end of 2015.




sidneyc1976
sidneyc1976

Yep I did the recalibration, which worked for a while. You have a good point about Sony changing their tune, but I believe MS should be way ahead with the console issues. 720p you can get on the Xbox 360. Xbox has only 2 games above 720p. PS has the majority of their game above 720p.

I switched from PS to Xbox when the 360 came out, because the console and games were by far better than PS. Right now I'm still unimpressed an feel robbed of 1200 bucks. The only games that are decent are Titanfall and possibly the future Halo. Even Thief was kind of lame once I ended it the same day I got it.

quicktim3
quicktim3

@adub424 yep same for Sony, nothing all year. I guess it comes down to which system you want to play multi-plats on. 


seems like most people are picking the PS4 for that aspect.

matt915x
matt915x

Only like 4 hours of gameplay then what my game collected dust :(

gamersince78
gamersince78

@gunnmetal @Gadeos  gunmetal, when you say a game like drakes suck, your credibility takes a big hit man...That game definitely did not suck. Those games set the standard for graphic visuals on the last console. So if that sucks, what was good in your opinion? haha.


I own Xbox1, so I get you want it to win, people have this need to feel they chose wisely with their dollars...we get it.


I will own both, because both appeal to me with a flurry of games.


Come on man...you know Drakes didn't suck...but its ok...just admitting PS has a good game doesn't mean your cheating on your xbox.



Gadeos
Gadeos

@gunnmetal Have you even played uncharted? ever? one of the best games of all times by far. E3 is about GAMING, not just games. VR is the next big thing on gaming experience and Sony is doing well aiming to that, while MS had to pull back its "super" kinect. I see greter things from Sony than MS

senorbusyman
senorbusyman

nah rvery year whdn i attend e3 sony puts ne to sleep i wake up see something cool then back to sleep & repeat

matt915x
matt915x

Uncharted is good but not enough for people to buy a ps4

gunnmetal
gunnmetal

@Gadeos @gunnmetal yes i did and its repetitive and boring, vr wont happen man 30fps will make you dizzy 3D isnt really a thing so vr wont be a thing

Gadeos
Gadeos

@matt915x Well I'm a fan and have at least finished each Uncharted at least once so I'm not so impartial about it. Still, I do think it's reason enough to get a PS4, along with the order, the last of us remastered, killzone, bloodborne, etc