Xbox head Phil Spencer promises a “big” E3 2019 for the brand with “great content” and talk of the future.
Last year, Sony shocked the gaming industry when they announced PlayStation will be skipping E3 2019. Yes, one of gaming’s leading brands, with as popular as the PlayStation 4 has been, will not be hosting a press conference at E3 this year. The company justified the decision with the promise of “new and familiar ways to engage our community.”
Of course, Sony is hardly the first major company to pull out of E3. Nintendo was first to stop hosting press conferences at the annual event, opting instead for an extended “Nintendo Direct” livestream that fans can tune into. But Nintendo still has had a booth on the E3 show floor in recent years.
With two of the “Big Three” opting out of a traditional press conference at E3 this year, all eyes are on Microsoft and the Xbox brand. While the company has already confirmed an appearance at the event, we still really don’t know what to expect from Xbox. Apparently, though, fans can expect something “big.”
Appearing on Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb’s podcast, Xbox head Phil Spencer was asked about Microsoft’s E3 plans. While he didn’t reveal any specifics, he did say it’s going to a “fun” E3 for the company.
“There was obviously some news about E3 back in the fall and we had a discussion internally of ‘should we go big? Should we save some money? You know… what does that mean?'” Spencer said. “We just said ‘No, we are going to do our thing. We’re going to go and be as big at E3 as we’ve ever been.’ I love that opportunity to be with our fans and the industry.”
Exactly what Microsoft will show during the event remains a mystery and that’s definitely part of the intrigue. Spencer hinted that Microsoft will be “changing up” a few things about this year’s show, which he believes will be “in a positive way.”
This year’s E3 does come at a weird time for consoles, particularly the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, both of which turn six years old in November. For comparison’s sake, it was eight years between the release of the Xbox 360 and the launch of the Xbox One; however, conversations about the next-gen started taking place around this mark. And we’re starting to see similar talk about the Xbox One’s predecessor now.
On what’s next for Xbox, Spencer admitted that they are still going through “internal discussions” in terms of how much time to spend talking about “long term versus near term.” Spencer does make it sound that at least a portion of the show will be dedicated to the future of Xbox, though I don’t think we’ll get any specifics regarding Microsoft’s hardware plans for a new console.
Rather, Spencer alluded that the conversation will mostly surround Xbox as a brand and what it means to those who don’t necessarily own an Xbox One but rather another Xbox-enabled device.
"“The content we’ll have will be great. We’ll talk about our future. I think we’ll talk more about what the Xbox brand means to us. I think, rightfully, most people, when they think about Xbox, they think about a game console. We do as well and I love the fact the game console plays such an important role in our strategy. But at the same time, we have millions of Xbox customers who we never see on console today. We see them on the phone or on a different device or on PC, and to really continue to push this idea that you can be a member of the Xbox community even if you’re not playing your games on a console. We want to continue to make that possible that you can stay connected with your friends.”"
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It’s far too early for me to put together a “What we want from Xbox at E3 2019” article or even a realistic list of what I expect Microsoft to announce at the show. All I can say is that Microsoft is already at an advantage just by being at the biggest show in the gaming industry. All eyes will be solely on the Xbox brand and they better not blow it.
I know E3 is no longer the show it used to be. Its importance for the industry has diminished as technology has advanced. Nintendo has proved you can accomplish just as much with a more direct livestream to fans and just skip all of the spectacle. But Nintendo has always marched by the beat of its own drum.
For Microsoft and Xbox, this year will be pivotal. This year can be huge for them. With the full spotlight on them, solely, going big is the perfect approach. I just hope they bring some games.