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Revisiting The Past Three E3 Report Cards

Forget pro StarCraft or League of Legends; E3 press conferences are one of gaming’s most satisfying spectator sports. The three-way matchups between Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, have provided some of the industry’s most thrilling highs and lowest lows. Sifting through their aftermath is a dependable form of entertainment, too. As we head into E3 2014, we’re taking a look at the past three conferences and recapping how each company has done over the years.

Each recap is accompanied with the letter grade that it received in the post-E3 issue of the magazine of that year.

2011: C-
Now that Kinect was out, Microsoft spent its first post-launch E3 trying to convince players that the device had useful applications beyond Dance Central and pausing Netflix. It wasn’t completely successful, showing voice commands in Mass Effect 3 and a virtual shooting range in Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Crytek’s Ryse was revealed, though the game would leapfrog over the Xbox 360 and become a launch game for the Xbox One. Cliff Bleszinski and Ice T presented a Gears of War 3 demo, and Microsoft teased the upcoming Xbox 360 dashboard redesign. The new dash was heavily inspired by the company’s Metro UI, which has continued to inform Xbox’s interfaces through the Xbox One.

2012:  C+
E3 2012 marked a year of transition for both Microsoft and Sony, since neither company was prepared to announce their next-gen offerings. Microsoft decided to continue its push for Kinect, since the technology would be a key component of the Xbox One – at least for a while. Third parties had to do the heavy lifting, however, since Microsoft’s first-party developers were busy working on titles for the then-unannounced console. That meant viewers got to see how voice commands could be used in demos of FIFA 13, Madden 13, and Splinter Cell: Blacklist. Microsoft also touted indie games like LocoCyle, Ascend: New Gods, and Gore Verbinski’s Matter (the latter of which was later canceled). SmartGlass made its debut, too, with a demo that showed how Game of Thrones viewers could explore maps and character profiles using a companion app while watching the program. The press conference ended with a trailer for Gears of War: Judgment.

2013: C
Microsoft had a lot of ground to recover following its recent Xbox One reveal event. The company spent much of that presentation focusing the device’s all-in-one media capabilities, which left some gamers cold. Plus, there was the reaction to the console’s always-online requirements and DRM that could prevent used games from working on the system. Titanfall remained an exciting exclusive, and a series of reveals including Dead Rising 3, Forza 5, a new Killer Instinct, Sunset Overdrive, Quantum Break, Ryse: Son of Rome, and a new Halo looked promising as well. The console’s price was announced, too, at $499. Unfortunately for Microsoft, Sony’s press conference later that day would bring consumers’ simmering discontent to a boil. A week after E3, Microsoft reversed course on the console’s controversial online and used-games policies, but the damage was done.

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