In the first of a series of digital events, Microsoft held an online event showcasing series of game trailers. These trailers were used showing in-game graphic capabilities that utilized the Xbox Series X hardware. This event was approximately one hour long total, with the first 27 minutes displaying a series of trailers while the last half featured interviews with the creators behind some of the games we saw.
The lukewarm affair was met with a slew of criticisms. As much as I love Microsoft and the work they have done in the past, this event is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to building up my excitement for the future of Xbox. My feelings may be quelled for the time being, and in this moment of clarity, I have to say that Microsoft is at least trying to get people excited, and that is much more than what other companies have been doing lately.
The first piece of criticism that I happen to agree with is that nothing we saw was true gameplay. That is because gameplay involves seeing what the game looks like in motion. Perhaps true movement, a heads up display, or anything that would give the player something to ground themselves in. What we saw were previews and in most cases I am absolutely fine with that. In order to stop handing the ammo over to those who wish to see Microsoft fail, perhaps the verbiage within the marketing needs to change. Telling people “gameplay” and only getting “scripted trailer” makes me feel like this is disingenuous and a ploy. This minor tactic used to sell games and hardware, and by not properly delivering on that claim, it feels like this is a step that would damage the credibility of Microsoft more than help them.
The second one that is most popular amongst the community seems to be the quality of the stream being 30 frames per second. Microsoft quickly appealed this response by uploading the presentation again in true 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, so that you may see first hand what these titles will look like without random interference. You can actually view this right here. It’s 27 minutes long, and it’s worth checking out for some of the crazy horror games that are in store for us later in the year.
The last major aspect that even I noticed was the harping of several system features. The more hardcore or die hard fans of gaming know what “Smart Delivery” is, so hearing it time after time can be annoying. For people who don’t know what it is, they might do some research on it and find something interesting; another reason to purchase a console. After all, Microsoft knows what the players want. Microsoft fears that the consumer that is disconnected from “the know” does not know what they want. Injecting buzzwords into presentations is believed to be the way to go. After all, some people can’t remember what they had for breakfast today, so repeating themselves a couple of times seems to be a way to get features to stand out to people unfamiliar with the product. To people who do know what this is, it seems like an annoyance more than anything. To me, it doesn’t bother me and this gets a pass. I don’t think that this is the hill to die on when it comes to events like this.
Microsoft has a history of delivering some excellent titles with incredible immersion. Their on-stage presentations have been amazing since the era of Phil Spencer began, and it’s going to be incredibly hard to recreate that feeling when everyone is streaming from their bedrooms or offices. It’s easy to look at what they are doing, and dismiss it immediately for what it is. But at the same time, you have to look at what they are doing and give some sort of credit for trying. Microsoft has a lot of plans for the future and I can’t wait to see what they bring us. In July we will see more titles from their exclusive studios and then I will pop open the bottle of bourbon I have been saving for a special occasion. Am I condoning getting drunk before noon? Maybe, we are in quarantine baby. There are no rules!