Microsoft Begins Living Room Dominance at E3

Amazing games, movies and shows for everyone, and an interactive experience everyone will enjoy

By Anthony Balcorta
Published on LatinoLA: July 16, 2008

Microsoft Begins Living Room Dominance at E3

With a press badge around my neck and anticipation swelling in my nerves, I walk into the West Hall at the Los Angeles Convention Center with a handful of other Hispanic publication and website representatives. Microsoft is hosting its annual Xbox 360 E3 Media Briefing, and as always, it's quite an event.

A huge screen plays interviews with Xbox 360 fans in high definition. A stage is set up with three Xbox 360s and three HD TVs on one side and a living room set up on the other. The green glow from all over the place helps us to our VIP reserved seating, a very special privilege held for very few, but which includes us Hispanic reporters today. The show is set to start, as are the plans for the future of the Xbox 360.

Don Mattrick, the Vice President of Entertainment for the Xbox 360 (pictured), is the first to greet us. He explains how the 360 is transforming the industry, with something for everyone and new products geared toward creativity. He explains how the gaming industry continues to be the leading driver of entertainment spending, and how the 360 is the leader of the pack as it is outselling both the Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii. Gamers are subscribing to the 360's online community, Xbox Live, in huge numbers. In one year, subscriptions went from 6 million to 12 million users, and $1 billion has been spent on downloadable content.

With Xbox Live, people are able to play with other Xbox 360 users around the world, chat online, and download extra content for games, music videos, and movies in high definition. One of the major announcements is that NBC Universal has joined forces with the 360 in making its content available for download through Xbox Live. Other companies that are putting their content on the 360 are MGM and Constantin Films. This means that the 360 has more on-demand content than any cable provider or satellite company, and most of it is in high definition. As if all these shows and movies weren't enough to want everyone to have a 360 in their living room, it was also announced that Microsoft has partnered with Netflix to bring their library of downloadable movies to the 360. This literally means that at any time an Xbox Live user can watch thousands of movies and TV shows that range from all interests and tastes. When the Netflix service launches around the holidays, viewers will also be able to watch the same movie with their friends online at the same time.

Movies and TV shows weren't the only thing getting the online community excited. It was announced that there is going to be an all new section of Xbox Live called "Primetime," where gamers will engage in popular game shows, such as "1 vs. 100." These games will feature real players from all over the world, with real hosts and chances to win actual prizes. Our small group of Hispanic reporters had the pleasure to interview the Director of Xbox LIVE, Manuel Bronstein, who was also the driving force behind "Primetime," and explained that the prizes were things that people would really want, things that would get everyone excited to play and strive to win in the game shows. "Primetime" will launch sometime this holiday season.

The Xbox 360 user interface, formally referred to as the dashboard, will undergo a transformation in the fall, giving it a shiny new look, making it more simple and social, and introducing avatars. Avatars will be customizable characters that will be used to personalize gamers over Xbox LIVE and in certain games. These unique characters, similar to the Mii characters on the Nintendo Wii, will be able to interact with other gamers around the world. It basically gives gamers a face and allows for a more personal experience.

With all these new announcements bringing connectivity, movies and shows to the foreground, it's easy to forget all the amazing games that are being released in the next few months. Games like Gears of War 2, Fable 2, Fallout 3, Resident Evil 5, Portal: Still Alive, a new South Park game available on Xbox LIVE Arcade, Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, a new Scene It game, Guitar Hero: World Tour, a karaoke game that allows you to use music from your own collection called Lips, Rock Band 2, a game comprised of mini-games which edits them into short films called Your in the Movies, and 4 new RPG's from Square-Enix, including Final Fantasy 13, the first Final Fantasy game for a Microsoft system.

The Xbox 360 is making itself the system to keep in the living room. Amazing games for everyone, movies and shows for everyone, and an interactive experience both online and offline that everyone will enjoy. Add to this another announcement that the 20 gigabyte 360 was just lowered to $299 means that it will be easier for everyone to own one. Microsoft is easily becoming the leader of the industry, and the respect and gratitude they showed to the Hispanic media is commendable. Looks like another great year for Xbox 360 owners, and a great year to pick one up if you don't have one yet.

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