E3 2016: Predictions for Microsoft

Gears of 4 image shot

Another year, another opportunity for the biggest names in the industry to show us what they’ve got cooking for us. E3 is more than just about wowing your fanbase with big surprises and new titles. It’s about convincing gamers to forget about the competition by promising them more joy and entertainment down the road.

Sony had a strong presence last year but Microsoft also didn’t do too bad at the highly-anticipated event. A good job was done to hype us up for surprises like ReCore as well as late 2015 titles like Halo 5, Forza Motorsport 6, and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Who could forget probably the most exciting surprise of all—Xbox One backwards compatibility.

Below are some of our predictions of what Microsoft has in store for us this coming E3 2016.

1. More Gears of War 4

Fans of the series were blown away by the sharp Gears of War 4 gameplay trailer from last year. Although many questions were left unanswered, including as who the two characters were, the notion that Gears will bring back horror elements like with the very first game had fans impressed.

Since Microsoft’s latest entry in their other big series (Halo 5: Guardians) already went out the door last year, Spencer and his team will definitely put the spotlight on the next Gears of War this E3. We know more about the story thanks to interviews with The Coalition but there’s still plenty more to share. You can rest assured Xbox One owners are anxious to learn more about Marcus Fenix’s son and the new threat facing Sera.

2. HoloLens News

HoloLens user with globe

Virtual reality is all the rage these days, especially with the recent release of Oculus Rift. Sony has been offering plenty of details about their upcoming PlayStation VR, including the reveal of a $399 price point at Game Developers Conference 2016. Now it’s Microsoft’s turn to talk up their own VR experience.

Last year’s HoloLens demo with Microsoft was one of the highlights of the conference. We’re confident that we’ll see yet another presentation that demonstrates how their VR headset has progressed. If virtual reality truly is the next evolution of gaming, you can bet Microsoft plans to make a strong presence.

3. The Exclusives

Nintendo has learned the hard way that 3rd party support is very important. Of course, few can argue against the Wii U’s superior lineup of exclusive titles. If there’s one thing Microsoft needs to do to catch up to the PS4’s sales, it’s show off the games you can only play on their console.

There are a number of Xbox-only games that we can expect to see at E3 2016. Perhaps one of the most exciting ones is Halo Wars 2, a console RTS in development by Creative Assembly. Crackdown 3 and Titanfall 2 will also most likely make an appearance, although the latter isn’t guaranteed to be exclusive. Other titles we want to see are Rare’s Sea of Thieves, Scalebound, and ReCore.

4. The Unexpected Surprises

Minecraft screenshot

The big reveals are the reason E3 is the biggest gaming event on the planet. It’s what leaves people talking weeks, if not months after the event has closed its doors. Since the competition always has secret weapons of their own ready to unveil, Microsoft will have to deliver at least one or two good surprises.

Our Minecraft 2 prediction from last year didn’t happen, but there’s no way Microsoft isn’t planning on it. We may even already get a look at the next Halo in the works. Although probably not exclusives, being the ones to reveal Red Dead Redemption 2 would be huge. As for the too good to be true prediction, a new Banjo-Kazooie 3D platformer would send the Internet into chaos. A slim version of the Xbox One is also always a possibility.

Why E3 Is Still Very Relevant For Gamers And Companies

E3 2016 Inspiring New Worlds banner

Like Christmas and birthdays, gamers begin counting down the days until the next E3 the day after the show closes its doors. While there are other great events that take place throughout the year, it’s only at E3 where fans of all genres and platforms can expect to see something exciting for them. It’s also where the largest gathering of devs take place to show off what their teams are hard at work making.

Despite this, the same question always pops up all over the internet in the weeks and months prior to the show. They ask if E3 is still relevant in a time when publishers can more easily promote their upcoming titles at their own events, free from the need to share the spotlight with competition. As the House of Mario has shown us with their Nintendo Direct videos, the internet alone is enough to present news in a way that sparks excitement.

The Dropouts

This year, concern once again grew across gaming news sites when they learned that Electronic Arts, one of the largest publishers in the business, will not be having booths on the showroom floor at E3 this June. They’ll instead be hosting EA Play, a public event that will not only run at the exact same time as E3 but will actually take place nearby. EA will still have a pre-E3 keynote on June 12, but none of their upcoming games will be playable there.

It's time to play E3 event

Not long after EA made their announcement, another giant publisher stated that they’d also have no show floor presence at E3— Activision. The only exception will be the next entry in the hugely popular Call of Duty franchise, which will be playable at Sony’s PlayStation booth. With two major companies showing a growing disinterest in the year’s biggest gaming expo, you can see why the question of relevancy has reared its ugly head again.

The Faithfuls

Of course, the same will be true this year as it was last year (and the years before it). Even though some big names won’t be taking the show seriously, plenty of others will. These developers know that at the end of the day, eyes from all over the globe are watching E3 to get blown away by new reveals, gameplay footage, and more.

Imagine if Square Enix had skipped out in 2015? Their announcement of the Final Fantasy VII remake was so unexpected that it sent shockwaves across the industry. You could argue that such a reveal would have had the same event at a Sony-specific event, but then you’d be discounting the fact that E3 is also a competition. Who will gain more attention than their competitors by showing off something unique, surprising, or just plain awesome?

Here To Stay

Many thought E3 was doomed way back in 2007 when only industry professionals were allowed entry. This led to attendance dropping from around 60,000 to roughly 5,000. It also didn’t help that E3 was becoming more of a flashy marketing tool (exaggerated gameplay videos, for example) and less of a way for devs to connect with their communities.

Fallout 4 teaser image

Fortunately, the people behind E3 have worked hard to bring their event back to its former glory, leading to a big increase in visitors again in recent years. This means more companies making the effort to impress their fans at the show. As Bethesda, Sony, Microsoft, and many others learned once again, E3 is still plenty relevant if the goal is to get people talking about your latest projects.

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