Sunday, March 30, 2008

E3 2007 blogroll

Last summer, I was in Santa Monica, Cali., covering the E3 Media & Business Summit from Tuesday, July 9 through Friday, July 13. I’m loading my posts from the show here, for posterity, y’know?

Tuesday, July 10, 11:30 p.m.

I shouldn't have been surprised that Santa Monica High School has a 1,000 seat outdoor amphitheatre.

Nor should I have been surprised that the hipsters at Microsoft Xbox would have selected the location as a venue for their 2007 E3 press briefing.

Twilight was just upon us as the people crowded in to the auditorium, and as the dark descended, the entire crowd was bathed in the eerie green light that is the trademark Xbox colour.

Last week, Microsoft formally acknowledged that the failure rate of their Xbox 360 console was unreasonably high. More than a third of 360s have been stricken with the "red circle of death" since the gaming hardware was launched in November 2005.

To quell the furor, Microsoft's Peter Moore, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business in the Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft, announced an extension of the Xbox 360 warranty to three years. The move is likely to cost Microsoft more than $1 billion USD.

Obviously, Microsoft wanted to get that bad news out of the way before this week, so they could focus on the positives and not spend this week being grilled about hardware issues.

So what did they have in store? Nothing too dramatic, I'm afraid.

"Xbox 360 is driving the [video game] industry," said Moore, onstage at the E3 briefing. "And this holiday we're shifting into high gear."

There certainly are a host of excellent games coming to the platform this fall, from Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed to Bioware's Mass Effect, from Rock Band to Viva Pinata: Party Animals.

But the big story for Microsoft's gaming division and the Xbox 360 this fall is the September 25 release of Halo 3. Despite the building hype around the game, there wasn't much of it on show in this press conference.

The press conference opened with a live rendition of the Halo theme music played by Corporeal, a group of five Halo fans from Illinois that Microsoft discovered online, and closed with a new trailer promoting the game. Aside from that, there wasn't much Halo surprise.

Moore revealed that there will be a special Halo edition Xbox 360 console released in September, but that announcement got little attention from the crowd.

Shane Kim, corporate vice president and head of Microsoft Game Studios revealed that the game Peter Jackson is developing for Xbox 360 is set in the Halo universe, but that was announced some time ago.

The only truly interesting Halo moment was a screening of a short, artsy, live-action Halo film by Neill Blomkamp, who was Jackson's choice to direct the Halo film, which is in limbo since Universal and Fox, who were to co-finance the film, pulled out. It was a thinly-veiled attempt to show what Blomkamp can (or can't) do with the subject matter, right in the backyard of the Hollywood studios that effectively pulled the plug on the movie.

You can get Microsoft's take on their press conference over here.

More from me tomorrow after the Nintendo and Sony press briefings.

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