Microsoft hits a homerun at E3 2006

All they needed to do was have a no-name utility infielder hit a bloop single to win the game. What they delivered was a Ruthian grand slam, delivered by the Babe himself. Microsoft was batting in the clean-up spot after Sony and Nintendo’s E3 2006 press conferences failed to impress even their biggest fanboys, and they did not disappoint. To win the 2006 video game war, Microsoft just needed to look somewhat competent. What they did, in MVP fashion, was prove that they were head-over-heels superior to their competition… or lack thereof.

Sony led off the 2006 E3 press conference schedule on Monday with a whisper. No, that’s not an exaggeration. Not one announcement Sony made drew any applause whatsoever from an anxiously awaiting press corps. You could hear crickets chirping during the mention of the $600 price tag their flagship unit would carry come it’s November release.

Nintendo’s announcements were not much better. They wouldn’t commit to a final street date or price for their next-gen unit. Besides that, the graphics displayed during their demos didn’t even come close to the competing next-generation units. The press conference was mildly amusing at best. Besides, how seriously can we take a gaming console who’s revised name is a euphemism for piss.

All Microsoft needed to do was show up for their press event and they would have easily bested their competition. Instead, they rolled out the big cheese himself, Bill Gates, in an unscheduled appearance, to make the groundbreaking announcement that Microsoft would be integrating the Xbox 360, the PC and mobile gaming via the Internet. Yep, that’s right, Xbox Live, PCs and mobile phones will be forever linked via the newly announced “Live Anywhere.” Game over.

A playable demo of Gears of War or a glimpse of footage from Halo 3 would have been enough to crown Microsoft “King of E3 2006,” but they delivered so much more. By the way, they did provide those two tidbits, in an extended format, and threw in the announcement that Grand Theft Auto IV would be hitting the Xbox 360 in October of 2007 as well.

To be fair, MS did take a dump on the mention of their HD-DVD peripheral. An accurate transcription of that announcement would be “Oh, and by the way, this is our new HD-DVD player. Thank You” while holding the new bible-sized unit and quickly putting it away. Apparently no one really cared about the drive since it was in the shadow of those other groundbreaking announcements.

In essence, E3 2006 is over before it has started. The company who had their next-generation unit out already still had the best press event of the expo, and not to mention an absolutely kick-ass after-party. This battle is Microsoft’s to lose, and I don’t see them doing that anytime soon. At this point, the difference between MS to the rest of the gaming world is like comparing the Yankees to the rest of the major leagues in the 90’s, the 50’s… and the 30’s. There is just no comparison. That ball is back, back, waaaay back… it’s outta here!

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