Microsoft plays it safe, sticks to games at E3

Microsoft and the Xbox One kicked off the first day of this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. And after last year's little slip-up in the marketing department, 

"TV. TV. TV. TV. Sports. TV. TV. TV. Anybody?" (Via YouTube / Darkbeat)

Microsoft's new Xbox frontman Phil Spencer took the stage to announce the company would take a different approach.

"Today we're dedicating our entire briefing to games."

Yes, Microsoft made almost no mention of its hardware or its entertainment apps over its 90-minute press conference. The company didn't even mention their most significant hardware update — a cheaper Xbox One minus the Kinect — having leaked the news a few weeks early. (Via CNET)

Instead, Microsoft focused on its library of upcoming games, starting with some old familiar faces. The ever-popular Halo series stole the spotlight this year with the announcement of the "Halo 5: Guardians" multiplayer beta — as well as rereleased, HD versions of the previous 4 games. (Via 343 Industries / "Halo 5: GuardiansIGN)

But other Microsoft staples also got a good chunk of screentime during the event — including the next "Call of Duty," the next "Forza" and the next "Fable." (Via Sledgehammer Games / "Call of Duty: Advaced Warfare", Lionhead Studios / "Fable Legends")

So far, so typical for a Microsoft E3 presser. But the company did have some surprises in store — like an eyebrow-raising reboot of original Xbox game "Phantom Dust" and another installment in the popular but neglected "Crackdown" series. (Via Polygon, Joystiq)

Compared to last year, Microsoft's gaming-only press strategy drew mostly positive, if lukewarm reviews. A writer for Forbes says "If the best criticism that can be manufactured of the event is that it was too games-focused, that's not a bad spot for them to be in. ... There's no controversy to be found here, but in the process, nothing all that exciting either."

But one GameSpot writer points out Microsoft's message came across as somewhat unambitious. "Because of this, Sony is in a unique position to lay down a clear road map of our gaming future, and if they execute on this it will further widen the gap between the two companies."

Microsoft's rival companies, Sony and Nintendo, have the next turn on the E3 stage.

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