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E3 2006 Microsoft press conference

Archived text commentary.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Three times a lady! Microsoft's press conference - the third and final of this year's E3 before the show itself begins - starts on Tuesday May 9th at 12:00pm PDT (8:00pm UK/9:00pm CEST).

Eurogamer will once again be bringing you live updates from the event and depositing them straight onto this very page within seconds. So stay right here for all the Xbox 360 announcements Microsoft's ready to make this year, almost certainly including first details of Halo 3. Blink and you'll miss it.

Our live coverage of this event has finished.

We are live inside Grauman's Chinese, next door to Kodak Theatre where Nintendo just were. MS wins friends early by providing bottled water with every seat. Gulp. It's filling up nicely, with 360s visible in display cases on the left side of the open area at the front. Due to begin in about five minutes, they say.

Rob Fahey

Gamertags and scores are scrolling around the screen in 3d. Rob Fahey's just scrolled past. "Recreation". Wuss. [Remind me to tell you all about the way Tom grenades his own teammates in the chest in Counter-Strike sometime. - Rob]

Rob Fahey

Rob's appeared again. It's quite hypnotic. The display that is. Rob's not hypnotic. Maybe the water's a kind of Temple of Doom plot device. You will write nice things about Xbox and I give you the antidote.

Rob Fahey

I've now seen Rob's gamertag seven times. And Cochise is playing. It's just like England this.

Rob Fahey

They're still filtering in but it's pretty much full now. Should get going soon.

Rob Fahey

"Ladies and gentleman, please take your seats, the show is about to begin." Lights go down.

Rob Fahey

We're off. Gears of War trailer. CG of Emergence Day, when the streets said hello to giant killy things. "Billions dead." "Humans denied their enemy control by destroying their own civilisation."

Rob Fahey

It looks gorgeous. Incredible lighting as muzzle flare lights up street battles. Emergence Day 2006. Trailer ends.

Rob Fahey

It's CliffyB. "Don't act surprised to see me, you knew this was going to happen." We're going to see the first level.

Rob Fahey

(That's Cliff Bleszinsky from Epic Games, by the way. He's the designer on Gears of War, a third person action title. That's what we're looking at now.)

Rob Fahey

Over the shoulder look as the two chars try to break out of military prison. Nice crash zoom on dead bodies as they kick down a door. The level of detail is amazing, with a huge rocket hitting a tower that tumbles down. Fighting in the rubble, ducking out into a close over-shoulder views to take out enemies up on balconies. Blood gushing like syrup from wounds. Swapping between four weapons, close-combat evisceration.

Rob Fahey

Leaps over block, shoots shotgun round corner. Bit of pausing now and then but generally very smooth. Very fierce, heavy metal gunplay.

Rob Fahey

Chucking a grenade using a blue arc to gauge distance. More hanging bodies. The level of detail on the character model is fantastic. Oops, enemies cutting through door.

Rob Fahey

Watching the cutter. "Get ready." Boom. They rush in, fanning out to different points, instructions shouted by your squad-mate. "Go left." Goes left, more close-zoom syrup-sploshing. I feel like I'm commentating on a Bruckheimer horror film.

Rob Fahey

We're outside. A chopper's above. "I see three!" The screen shakes as we run - the whole scene feels very oppressive. Very brown and grey with loads of rubble, tatty grass patches. Fighting close up, chainsaw on underside of gun through enemy chest. Jack Thompson's going to love this. Cliffy's playing it, by the way. He's down on the side looking quite intense.

Rob Fahey

This is a test. Please ignore!

Mark Kennedy

Demo ends. Applause. Peter Moore's on now. Five million sales of 360 by eight months, he says. Better than iPod, and other consoles.

Rob Fahey

He's talking about how Microsoft's changing gaming. How popular the games have been. Cultural phenomenon. Lifestyle. "It's a gateway to new worlds of high definition content" he says of the TV stuff. "Today you'll see how only Microsoft can deliver" on high-def, shared gamespace, digital entertainment access.

Rob Fahey

"In the next year, Xbox Live will surpass 6 million members." He clarifies that - he means, by next E3.

Rob Fahey

We're going beyond early adopters, he says. "We hit 57% attach" last week he says. And pays tribute to Live Arcade - "Strikes at the very core of what makes gaming fun." New additions trailer reel.

Rob Fahey

New Live Arcade titles: Pac-Man, Contra, Frogger, Galaga, Sonic the Hedgehog, Defender, Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting, Time Pilot, Ultra Mortal Kombat 3, Scramble.

Rob Fahey

"A major expansion". Logos - Dig-Dug, New Rally-X, Ms Pac-Man. "Doesn't stop there." The arcade portfolio of Konami.

Rob Fahey

Paperboy too. Midway, Namco and Konami shown up. Sonic's "heading up our partnership with my old friends at Sega". Shared heritage, he says.

Rob Fahey

High-def, leaderboards and multiplayer for some of these titles. "We're making sure your misspent youth can stay with you as long as possible."

Rob Fahey

"We're also doing for games what Sundance does for movies." Loads of indie logos going past. Over 100 partnerships, Moore says. "Absolutely vital" for the industry. "A platform for their titles and a spotlight for creativity." Surprise addition now: Lumines Live.

Rob Fahey

Looks very much like the PSP, but with videos playing in background - Madonna music. [Er, what?! MADONNA? - Incredulous Rob]

Rob Fahey

Warner Music Group partnership will mean exclusive music content, like Madonna, in Lumines Live.

Rob Fahey

"With so many choices, Live Arcade is a key market differentiator." Says the other consoles "don't even come close". For today, "Live Arcade is just the appetiser."

Rob Fahey

Then next wave of 360 games. "Truly next generation games."

Rob Fahey

Trailer reel: Lost Planet (E3 demo excerpts), Table Tennis, Brothers In Arms, Mass Effect (looks very actiony), NHL 2K7

Rob Fahey

F.E.A.R., Too Human (wow, looks kind of like AVP), Viva Pinata, MotoGP '06, Battle for Middle-earth II, Sonic the Hedgehog, Madden...

Rob Fahey

World Series of Poker, Saint's Row (eek framerate, THQ), WWE Smackdown vs. RAW 2007, Stranglehold, Enchanted Arms...

Rob Fahey

Test Drive Unlimited, NCAA Football 07, Dead Rising, DDR Universe, Prey, Superman Returns, NBA 2K7, Crackdown...

Rob Fahey

Ninety-Nine Nights, Gears of War again (love that chainsaw noise). Blip. Nothing new in that lot then.

Rob Fahey

"By this holiday we'll have over 160 games to choose from," says Moore. Walks through the exclusives we've just seen.

Rob Fahey

"The only place to play next-gen Madden will be right here on Xbox 360," he says, cryptically. And he mentions Pro Evolution Soccer. They're still delivering software for first-gen Xbox as well he says. Though mainly it's third parties, in this case.

Rob Fahey

Formal announcement of new game from Lionhead. What CAN this be, eh?

Rob Fahey

"Your story is waiting." A scary looking Burton-esque world, morphing around a weird tree lady. "Choose your fortune." Fable 2.

Rob Fahey

It's all CG so far by the looks of it, but very nice. Could be in-game. Very cinematic anyway. "Every choice leads to a different destiny."

Rob Fahey

Moore says he's proud to have Molyneux on board. Gestures to him in the crowd. He looks quite merry.

Rob Fahey

"I'd like to show you another quality title produced by MS Game Studios." "We're shifting this into fifth gear." Forza Motorsport 2.

Rob Fahey

Cripes, that looks nice. Cars zooming backward round the track, peeling off down to bare lines. A nice attract sequence. Going forward now, splitting into component car parts in mid-air. It's a bit like a McG Honda advert.

Rob Fahey

Zooming along over the top of cars. Zooming in on wheel arch during a crash. They're trying to emphasise the realism rather than show the actual game, you sense.

Rob Fahey

"Now you can choose from over 300 cars" to tune and paint. Up to 11 other players played against on Live. Available this Christmas.

Rob Fahey

Steering wheel - Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel. Force feedback. People clap. New wireless headset too - looks like a Bluetooth headphone. Xbox Live Vision Camera too.

Rob Fahey

"Look your opponents in the eye in Activision's World Series of Poker." All three peripherals due this holiday season. He's turning to Japan now. "We're committed to bringing inspired, imaginative content to the Japanese market." Gestures to Final Fantasy creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi.

Rob Fahey

Moore welcomes Sakaguchi to Los Angeles, says Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon are going to be, well, good you know. Video now.

Rob Fahey

Little stylised man super-deforms his way through the sky in a spaceship, as a big stompy tin-can robot and his minions cross the ground. It's very anime. Flying towards robot-git. Blue Dragon. That's Mistwalker (as in Sakaguchi's lot) and Artoon (as in the Blinx chaps) developed, of course.

Rob Fahey

"We've got great content coming to the Japanese market and not long to wait." Blue Dragon due this Christmas in Japan. Mentions Dead or Alive Xtreme 2. "If there's one dev who's realised promise and potential of 360, it's Itagaki-san," he says, referring to the head of Tecmo's Team Ninja and the chap behind Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden. Trailer due this week on Live.

Rob Fahey

Says he won't underestimate the challenges, and will have content by Japanese for Japanese. Turns to Tom Clancy stuff.

Rob Fahey

Trailer for Splinter Cell: Double Agent. "I used to hunt terrorists. Now I am one." Shows Sam offing a civilian. "I've become a double agent."

Rob Fahey

Parachutes from the sky, clearly in-game. Lands on a tundra. Seen swimming underwater, pulling a bloke off an icy ledge into the water, leaping out from buried in the snow. Edging over skyscrapers. He's going everywhere. Sam Fisher World Tour 2006.

Rob Fahey

Trailer's over. Splinter Cell: Double Agent due this September on 360, says Moore. "We're also creating new ." Like Viva Pinata.

Rob Fahey

"We're creating a whole new world kids can jump into any time and anywhere." Jim Veevaert from MS/Rare comes to stage.

Rob Fahey

Talks about what a pinata is. "The hit of the party in more ways than one."

Rob Fahey

Video comes up. "It's about letting your imagination go and transforming a small piece of land". You want to get your land good so pinatas will join you. Worm attracts sparrow, and so on.

Rob Fahey

"Everything can have an impact in terms of the type of pinata you attract." Pistachio the horse looks happy. Live Marketplace will offer items. Trade pinatas over Live, too.

Rob Fahey

You can get accessories through Live. Bear has Mohawk, backpack... All stuff you can get from Live.

Rob Fahey

Helper in the garden can automate processes for inexperienced players.

Rob Fahey

You can tame angry pinatas too. You grow the population doing a romance dance on a little stage. No, seriously.

Rob Fahey

"And just like that, the population can grow." Demo over. Moore comes back.

Rob Fahey

Viva Pinata this holiday, he says. "Proof positive" of plans to move beyond core of fans. Name-checks next-gen Sonic and Lego Star Wars too. "Now let's take a look at the third essential - surrounding you with the high-def entertainment of your choice."

Rob Fahey

Live Marketplace - "opened the floodgates" to digital distribution. Over 18 million downloads from Marketplace. Over 1000 pieces of content by this evening. Says Live members and publishers are excited - every publisher has some sort of content, he says. It changes the way people try and buy games, he says. Mentions Fight Night demo - "In just a few short weeks after the demo went up, pre-orders increased by over five times."

Rob Fahey

Also good for "true episodic content" he says. Third point, "opens new worlds of digital entertainment." Direct line to 18-34 demographic. Music videos, movie trailers, and exclusive content from Paramount, Touchstone, Disney, Epic Records, Lionsgate and Fox.

Rob Fahey

Tonight, first time ever, you can download high-def TV content. Tonight's: "Gears of War: Road to E3". A docu-drama. Starts tonight, finishes next week on MTV.

Rob Fahey

High-definition movies are next. Picks up HD-DVD player. It looks like a smaller 360, with the mechanism on the top.

Rob Fahey

More than 50 by Christmas. The 360 Player due this Christmas. People start to clap.

Rob Fahey

"I think so!" he says when they do. "It'll be a better bargain than anything else in this new entertainment format." Aha, looks like we're turning to Halo.

Rob Fahey

He's taking his, er, clothes off. Well, jacket. "Yeah yeah yeah" he syas. He shows his Halo 2 tattoo. "You thought it was fake." Oh god. It's not on his chest, surely. "Some guys do rubber ducks, some guys do tattoos," he jokes. His new one: Grand Theft Auto IV. Okay, wasn't Halo then. Forgive me eh? But hell. October 16th 2007 in North America, October 19th 2007 Europe. GTAIV. "The first date it's available."

Rob Fahey

Available on 360 "from day one". So presumably it's on the others too. Strategic partnership for exclusive episodic content on Live Marketplace, though. More clapping. And now he's turning to Windows Vista. "A full blown games renaissance," he promises. New marketing, new graphics, on the most game-friendly OS in Windows history, he says.

Rob Fahey

"Our new brand identity - Games for Windows." Won't be sent to "the land of misfit toys" any longer. Revitalisation "isn't just cosmetic". Brings out Chris Donahue to show off Crysis.

Rob Fahey

Demo starts inside a burning building of some sort. Flames lick at things all around, a floating squid takes some shrapnel from our man. We're on a ship - you can see out of a hole. Picks a girder up off a bloke on the floor.

Rob Fahey

Moving through dark, burning interiors. Out onto the deck. An enormous, Abyss-esque monster straddles the deck on four huge tentacle-like legs. Its head opens as it attacks.

Rob Fahey

The scale is amazing. It picks up stuff off the deck and hurls it at the bridge, which explodes and crumples. You launch fire at the giant blue squid thing, but it's not helping. The frame-rate's suffering but you can see why - flecks of light illuminate amazing detail.

Rob Fahey

The monster's taking a hammering from our man now, even though he's hiding behind bits and bobs. It doesn't look too happy, creaking on its legs. It glows really brightly and collapses, then explodes in a ball of blue light. "Abandon ship" they yelp.

Rob Fahey

Demo ends. Moore returns. DirectX 10 is the key, says Moore. Another squid of blocks grows out of the screen - erupting with weird alien life. Age of Conan trailer appears from a bubble. Then Flight Sim X.

Rob Fahey

Crysis again. The jungle detail makes Far Cry look like a NES game [Tom's phrase of the week, by the sounds of it!]. I've not seen this close-up before actually - bloody hell it looks nice.

Rob Fahey

"Games for Windows" logo pops up again. Moore claps. "Quite simply, Windows Vista is built to run games." "The single biggest launch in the history of Microsoft - and also a great day for gamers." Easier installs, more options for family settings, and games accessible right from the start menu.

Rob Fahey

Talks about Oblivion. "Which sold 1.7 million copies in three weeks for both ." Two more joint-release (PC/360) titles coming up.

Rob Fahey

First from FASA. Resurrecting "a truly classic series". A guy gets gunned down, then revived on the spot. "Ancient magic" - "some seek to control it". "Others fight to preserve it."

Rob Fahey

Next game. Resistance types leap from rooftops with special wings. Their enemies return. It's all CG so far, but suggests concepts - translocator style dodging, revival on the spot, summoning. It's Shadowrun.

Rob Fahey

Combines multiplay and techniques never seen before, apparently. Next January on X360 and PC.

Rob Fahey

Next is "one of the biggest hits of last year's E3". Remedy's Alan Wake. Zooming over hillsides, piano music twinkling. Lighthouse view over glistening sea. Day night cycle accelerates. Alan's monologue is typed over the bottom. The facial detailer is very impressive. Blair With style standing in a clearing with a torch looking panicked. "Exclusively on Windows and Xbox 360".

Rob Fahey

"This game is a true genre-buster". Psychological action thriller with innovative gameplay, says Moore, who has put his jacket back on. "When we come to E3, we always try to show you something new." Someone's here "who's not been to E3 before" he says. Aha, Bill Gates.

Rob Fahey

He looks healthy, smiling. "Thank you Peter." "I'm a heavy Xbox 360 user - kind of a PGR3 addict." His family likes Live Arcade, he says.

Rob Fahey

Says 360 is "an incredible foundation". Where from here, he asks. Well, he'll tell too, obviously. "The future of gaming really involves software - better tools, better environments, being user-centric so you can find your friends, and use these games on any of the devices you have."

Rob Fahey

"Building platforms is what we're about," says Gates. Talks about MSN, Hotmail. Assets that will be connected to Live. Seamless for communications and gaming. "It's also about making gaming attractive to people of every age, driving the industry to a whole new size." "We're adding 8 new countries" including South Africa, Chile, India, Brazil, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia.

Rob Fahey

"Our biggest challenge was keeping it in stock," he says. "Fortunately now we've got them largely in stock." End of June, somewhere between 5 and 5.5m, he reiterates. "Before our competition even enters the market, we will have a 10 million unit headstart with Xbox 360," he claims.

Rob Fahey

Live's a huge part he says. 3 million now, 6 by the next E3. Talks about digital distribution and high-def content. I think that may have come up earlier!

Rob Fahey

"What's the most dramatic thing we could do to take Live to the next level?" "This connection to the PC and the Windows Mobile world." 230 million MSN Messenger users, 150 million Windows gamers, he stat-flashes. Keeps his jacket on, mind. "1 billion game ready cellphones" too.

Rob Fahey

"This is a vision of taking Live to the next level - Live Anywhere." "It will actually be part of Windows Vista." A key milestone, he says.

Rob Fahey

One user interface, one identity, one friends list, one message centre, one marketplace. One ring to rule them all.

Rob Fahey

Gates says he thinks critical mass is only inevitable if everything converges across the two platforms.

Rob Fahey

"Windows Mobile is a very interesting element of this." Some phones "equivalent to what a PC would have had 3-4 years ago."

Rob Fahey

Some games will let you continue playing on the phone, he says. Not specific. "We're going from Live to Live Anywhere, and we really think this is a unique contribution; that Microsoft is probably the only company that can pull this off."

Rob Fahey

Scott Henson comes out to demo Live Anywhere.

Rob Fahey

Talks about how 360 users are used to logging in as soon as games load. Shows this happening when he pops into Shadowrun. Brings up friends list. Whether you're playing Windows Vista, 360 or Mobile, it keeps you up to date on what your friends are doing. Sends Major Nelson a cross-platform game invite. He's working on his PC now apparently. We see his desktop with integrated friends list.

Rob Fahey

Below it is his Gamercard. "One gamertag no matter what the platform is." Gamerscore through Vista too.

Rob Fahey

You can click View Profile on his Vista invite. The Guide comes up - you can even do achievement comparisons across platforms, whether they're achieved on PC or 360. PC will play against 360. He can play keyboard-mouse on Windows or third-person on 360. Real-time voice chat cross-platform too.

Rob Fahey

Mobile phone now. Shows Motorola Q phone with Windows Mobile. You can see tailor-made Marketplace on Windows Mobile. You can play Zuma - unlocked for your gamertag on 360, PC and Mobile.

Rob Fahey

Forza Motorsport team challenged to "paint on this new canvas". You can send a message to Windows Mobile. Major Nelson's sent him a car to his phone, which he can tweak and save off to Live.

Rob Fahey

Paint shop on Vista, too, changing skins. Bring up editor and do decals. A quick mock-up - racing on 360, editing on Vista, tweaking on mobile phone.

Rob Fahey

"Live Anywhere is a big new thrust for us," says Gates. "To close things out," Moore is invited back. Wrapping up. 10m unit headstart, more than 160 games by holiday, 6m Live members by E307, Live Anywhere "unites all gamers".

Rob Fahey

Surely we're about to get a Halo 3 trailer. Come on Peter, show us your latest ink. Gates jokes about it. "Probably something we'll recognise." A windswept plain, arches broken and tattered over the landscape. The Master Chief appears. He turns. A huge ship - a fleet really - breaks over the horizon, with a giant hole ahead of him in what looks like a ten mile wide crater. Nope, it's some sort of building, arching up. To say it's vast would be... A giant white light. "This is the way the world ends." Halo 3. "Finish the fight. 2007." And we're out. Can I have lunch now?

Rob Fahey

[Right that's it! Check back later for complete footage and video highlights from the conference. Now scram!]

Mark Kennedy

"Live Anywhere is a big new thrust for us," says Gates. "To close things out," Moore is invited back.

Rob Fahey

"Live Anywhere is a big new thrust for us," says Gates. "To close things out," Moore is invited back. Wrapping up. 10m unit headstart, more than 160 games by holiday, 6m Live members by E307, Live Anywhere "unites all gamers".

Rob Fahey

Paint shop on Vista, too, changing skins. Bring up editor and do decals.

Rob Fahey

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