OPINION: Microsoft Wasted Their E3 Opportunity

Their services have never been stronger. Their momentum has never been greater. Their first party potential has never been grander.

But they blew it.

Microsoft squandered it. They wasted their chance for truly convincing gamers, and especially me, as to why their platform is the best place to play. What a damn shame.

Phil Spencer no doubt wanted to make it seem like they were showing off tons of content by flashing “60 games” up on screen. But for me, quality is far more important than quantity.

After touting that they’d be showing off 60 games during their press conference this year, only two actually caught my eye. Of those two, we already knew about one years in advance — Cyberpunk 2077.

Cyberpunk 2077 Is Coming April 2020 - Pre-Orders Open!

I wrote last year about why revealing Cyberpunk 2077 footage to the public was a mistake, an opinion I still maintain. But to follow that with no gameplay this year seems like yet another misstep.

Sure, they got Keanu Reeves, which I am more than OK with, and we finally have a release date in April 16, 2020. But, what did we find out that’s truly “omigawd mind blowing”? Nothing.

And the other game? Well, Flight Simulator is a deeply personal one for me. It’s arguably the first game I ever played on PC, one I played with my dad. My dad loves flight games, so I’m honestly more excited to show my dad than I am for myself. I can’t wait to see how happy he is playing this on new PC hardware.

Let’s stick with the positives for a bit, shall we? I did like the additional details we received about Game Pass on PC. As a PC gamer, I’m glad to see Microsoft finally giving a damn about us after 15 years of near total neglect. The Game Pass Ultimate deal at $15 also seems like good value.

The new Elite Controller looks like a genuine upgrade as well. Having bought mine more than three years ago, I’m very much looking forward to grabbing this new piece of kit.

But…that was it. Nearly every single trailer shown was in-engine footage. And as we all should know by now, “in-engine” is not the same as actual gameplay. Engine cinematics tell us nothing about gameplay. I’m sorry, just show me gameplay. If there is no gameplay to be shown, then I’d rather not see anything at all. Engine cinematics fuel hype, and hype is toxic.

And then we got to Project Scarlett. I predicted in my weekly podcast, Gaming the Industry, with fellow writer, Joseph Bradford, nearly exactly how the actual Scarlett reveal unfolded.

They mentioned Zen 2 and Navi, something we’ve known about for ages. They mentioned hardware-accelerated real-time ray tracing, another buzzword meant to get their console audience hyped without that audience truly understand what ray tracing actually is.

It was filled with tons of buzzwords, close up shots of the motherboard, and a sense of, “this has never been possible before.” In fact, Mike Ybarra said at 1:33, “It’s gonna usher in resolutions and framerates that we’ve never seen before. Like, never seen before!”

This is factually false.

The words these companies use in no uncertain terms state that this has never been seen nor been possible before. The objective fact is that resolutions higher than 4K and framerates above 60fps have existed on PC for years and years. 5K and 8K monitors exist. Achieving 120fps and higher is more than possible. There is a reason why 165 Hz monitors exist, for example.

These executives are blatantly lying. The counter argument is, “they mean it wasn’t possible before on console.” However, this is not what was said. As members of media, we need to hold them accountable for their words. Words matter.

People will look at what was explicitly said and take it as gospel. And what’s worse, Microsoft knows what they’re saying isn’t true. They know their audience doesn’t know better and will believe what they’re being told. The way these executives worded this is blatantly false. It is untrue. It is wrong.

It is for this reason, among the others outlined above, why I’m so unimpressed with Microsoft this year. A lack of interesting content, coupled with no real gameplay, concluding with blatantly lying to a susceptible audience they know will believe anything they say is disappointing and more importantly, irresponsible.

What a damn waste.

Written by
A highly opinionated avid PC gamer, Poorna blindly panics with his friends in various multiplayer games, much to the detriment of his team. Constantly questioning industry practices and a passion for technological progress drive his love for the video game industry. He pulls no punches and tells it like he sees it. He runs a podcast, Gaming The Industry, with fellow writer, Joseph Bradford, discussing industry practices and their effects on consumers.

4 Comments

  1. When I agree with you it’s a sad sad day for me. It’s sad because I know the cynic inside me has wrestled control of at least 51% of my brain and pushed all the happiness into a corner. Unfortunately had have to agree with most of what you said here.

    I know there were more than 2 games mentioned that I was interested in, but without reviewing the highlights I can’t mention one. I also agree they wasted their chance by not showing gameplay of Cyberpunk 2077.

    So here I was, agreeing all the way through the article and then you mentioned Scarlett. I immediately thought you would catch how they talked about 120fps and 4k one after the other, making it appear that they could pull both off.

    But then you started the rant about how they lied since PCs have been doing 120fps already. Sorry to break it to you, but they didn’t lie. As you suggested, they can simply say they were talking about consoles. I had already inferred that, and I believe most people will. Even my most ignorant friends that think consoles are the greatest thing in the world know that PCs are more powerful. They never deny that my PC can push over 60fps or higher resolutions than their console. They will argue until their dying breath about how you can’t tell the difference, but not once has any of them thought PCs weren’t more powerful, and we are talking some pretty stupid people here.

    So thank you. Thank you for allowing the better half of my brain to wrestle control back from my cynical side in such short order.

    • So just because your friends and some others may infer that PCs are more powerful doesn’t change the fact that Mike Ybarra was lying. It doesn’t change the fact that he saying in no uncertain terms that these resolutions and framerate have “never been possible before” is a falsehood. Your friends and others recognizing actual facts doesn’t change the blatant falsehoods said by Mike Ybarra. What he said is objectively false. Nothing can change that.

  2. No, I am saying that in the context of what they were talking about they were accurate. If you have forgotten, they were talking about the improvements the next gen hardware was going to bring over current consoles. In the realm of consoles those frame rates have not been seen. Could he have clarified his statement? Yes. Does that mean he was blatantly lying? No.

    Here, let me show you an example. In your article you state, “But, what did we find out that’s truly “omigawd mind blowing”? Nothing.” That is objectively false. You use the word we, meaning you are speaking for everyone who saw the showcase, yet I know that a couple of guys chatting in Discord pretty much crapped their pants when they saw the Phantasy Star Online 2 stuff. I may be wrong, but it was an OMG moment for them. Here are a couple of quotes from the Discord I was in: “omg i’m sold”, “OMG YAAAASSSSS” were both stated at one point or another. And I know that I had an OMG moment when Keanu came out on stage.

    So you have lied. You said there weren’t any OMG moments, yet there apparently were. I do understand, based on the context your statement was written, that isn’t what you meant. But in the black and white world in which you live in there is no room for misunderstanding. You, sir, are a liar.

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