Microsoft's shameful E3 PC showing
Here's a fun fact: if you tried searching for PC games at E3, you'd do a better job looking at Sony's portfolio than Microsoft's. For the sum total of Microsoft's commitment to PC gaming at E3 was utterly embarrassing. Four Xbox 360s running Fable 3. It's now absolutely clear that Microsoft have zero interest in developing or supporting PC gaming's incredible future. Their PC E3 showing was an embarrassment to the platform.
Cross format development is now so inexpensive, it makes zero sense to push money into a single format exclusive. At the show, that was quickly made clear. The vast, vast majority of the major third-party publishers' showings concentrated on games that are playable on all formats, and will be available on the day of launch through Microsoft's Games for Windows Live store.
Yet you'd be hard-pressed to tell from Microsoft's show presence. The PC wasn't mentioned once during the Microsoft E3 press conference. On the show floor, they built a vast green booth, surrounded by glass pods in which gamers, analysts and journalists petted pretend animals or jumped and down on boats. There was no sign of the Games for Windows intiative anywhere. Nor did they do any PR to counter the signs of developers jumping ship: at the show, Fallout: New Vegas and Kane and Lynch 2 bothditched the Games for Windows Live service in favour of the Steamworks.
From Microsoft, there were no PC related announcements, no PC games on display, and no interest in promoting the PC as a gaming platform.
The funniest part of this, though, is that they were embarrased by their rivals from console land. Sony Online Entertainment, the online arm of Sony, brought multiple new PC games to the show. They had exactly the same goal that obsesses Microsoft – to broaden the market for games – but were doing it through great software, rather than flawed hardware.
Take a game like Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, Sony's kiddie friendly Star Wars MMO. While Microsoft showed off a lightsaber game that required their (rumoured) $150 dollar camera toy, Sony brought a brand new franchise to the table. While it's clearly not being aimed at PC Gamer readers, it is gloriously well presented, and remarkably innovative. It's based on the Clone Wars cartoon, but the missions in the game are based on what happens in the TV series each week. I'd bet that within the first year of release, Clone Wars Adventures will hook millions more gamers than Microsoft's entire Kinect catalogue.
PC games were everywhere at E3: there was barely anything that wasn't playable on PC. The PC had the best format exclusives at the show: games like Civilization 5, The Old Republic, and The Witcher 2. And the PC had the best looking games at the show. Nothing will close to Crysis 2 running on a high-end system this year.
Yet Microsoft just didn't seem to care. That to me, as a journalist and gamer, seems shameful.