How do you solve a problem like Xbox One?

How do you solve a problem like Xbox One?

By Alex Ward

June 6th 2014 at 10:22AM

Alex Ward imagines a stellar E3 conference that could revitalise Microsoft’s new-gen console

“Xbox LIVE is perfect.” It’s Summer 2006, I’m eating curry in London and I’ve just heard those words for the second time in one night.

I’ve heard them from two really smart people. One was Larry Probst, the chairman of EA. The second was from Bing Gordon, who was one of The Two Other Most Influential People in the entire company.

Looking back, they were right. And from that night forward, I pretty much switched from being a largely PlayStation gamer to going hardcore into the world of Xbox 360.

I’ve got so many great Xbox memories, but when it looks like a hundred quid really does make a difference, and the most ardent Achievement hunters I know are switching to Sony, maybe something has to change. So how do you solve a problem like Xbox One?

I was daydreaming earlier of E3. It turns out it’s so much fun when you don’t have to go: three days of seeing new games online, and sleeping in your own bed. I’ll gladly take that over jet lag, no sleep, scripted demo’s every 15 minutes and barely eating anything for the entirety of the show.

Xbox One really needs a killer E3. So here’s my fantasy Xbox One E3 press conference…

CALIFORMULATIONS

First up is a killer price cut. Phil Spencer takes the stage and drops the price with immediate effect. Fifty quid cheaper than PS4. Chances of this happening? Unlikely. [Actually, they did cut the price. This was written before that announcement - ed.]

Then, games: news on Halo 5, and a Ruffian-developed Crackdown prequel – with the UK’s Gary Liddon and Billy Thomson showing off co-op play onstage. Nice work, Agent! Then, a mind blowing demo of Black Tusk’s new Gears of War game, with a blessing from Cliffy B. All of these look and sound amazing, and run at 1080p.

Chances of this happening? Likely. Okay, probably not the Crackdown bit, but it doesn’t stop me hoping.

Having learned the lesson about talking about Xbox Video too much, it’s mentioned briefly but we’re all still reeling from the games shown. Besides, we already have Netflix. Chances of this happening? Unlikely (sadly)!

Now it’s time for One Last Thing, the staple of E3 conferences. To the sound of familiar Kenji Kondo tunes, Iwata and Miyamoto take the stage. The world gasps. Microsoft and Nintendo are merging! Nintendo’s enviable stable of IP will now be exclusively available on MS devices going forward. And not just new titles on Xbox One, but all the N64 and SNES stuff is coming for Surface and Windows Phones. Almost instantly, Surface sells out immediately on Amazon. There’s a first time for everything.

We’re stunned. Miyamoto shows Mario Kart 8 but now with 16 players online over Xbox Live. A new online-only multiplayer Zelda game is shown with realistic visuals. And everyone in the audience is given a free download code to the Xbox One version of the Best Game of 2013, Super Mario 3D World – but now it comes complete with four-player online co-op.

Chances of this happening? Well, I think we all know the answer.

The truth is we’ve all been here before. And so has Microsoft. If any company can focus on change, iteration, improvement and quality, it’s the guys in Redmond. Quality games win the audience, and Microsoft wrote the rulebook on building big first-party franchises and securing the cream of the crop from third parties. It definitely won’t be the E3 I dream about – but that doesn’t mean that they won’t just surprise us yet.