I thought it would be better that instead of doing a giant E3 blog post, to have separate discussions for each company to maximize ease of debate and discussion. Since Microsoft went first, I'll talk about them first.
First, here's the stuff that's immediate from Microsoft's session:
- Kinect Fun Labs is immediately available and includes new avatar creation features and augmented reality stuff. I downloaded it (slowly) last night, but have yet to try it. The basic concept is a good one in that it really is a "lab" and new gadgets and features will be added over time.
- Microsoft claims that the Xbox 360 will continue to be the number one selling console month-to-month in North America, but will also achieve that worldwide in short order.
It looks like all the rest of this is coming in the big Fall update, which I suspect will hit some time in September:
- Lots of upcoming games (even hardcore ones) will make use of Kinect voice and gesture recognition, which, in addition to further integration into the dashboard will no doubt ensure that Kinect sales will continue to be brisk and Microsoft will continue to build a blueprint for their next generation system.
- YouTube is coming to Xbox LIVE, joining the already-in-place Facebook and Twitter, among others.
- Voice-command driven (via Kinect) DVR and an Internet TV service (Xbox LIVE TV) that will be in direct competition with standard cable and satellite services.
- Bing (universal) search is coming to the system; you can also use Bing voice commands via Kinect to access marketplace stuff directly.
- You can access PC media libraries using Kinect.
- Microsoft will offer cloud storage for game saves and profiles, potentially making both using a USB stick to transport your profile to other systems and the account recovery process unnecessary.
- A bizarre Xbox 360 Wireless Speed Wheel was announced. I have an awesome Logitech force feedback wheel system for my PS3 and PC, so I'm definitely up for good steering wheel controllers, but this one might be a bit too radical of a design. I wish Microsoft would just reissue their now discontinued force feedback wheel.
So, there you have it. Not a blockbuster E3 showing, but a showing of surprising strength and confidence. This may not win any new Xbox 360 converts, but it shows Microsoft is committed to the platform for the remainder of this generation. As an Xbox 360 fan, I'm excited by the changes, but as an author in the process of writing a new Xbox 360 book, much like what happened with Wii Fitness For Dummies, the announcements kind of throw a monkey wrench in the book's timing...