The lights are on
In the lull between the Microsoft Xbox One Showcase and EA's press conference, we had a chance to sit back and take stock of what we learned about the Xbox One this morning. There were some strong announcements and some disappointments, but overall, Microsoft had a strong showing.New game announcementsMicrosoft didn't surprise anyone with Ubisoft's Fighter Within, as the publisher accidentally published the title's website a few days ago. Fable Legends and Mojang's Cobalt both were pleasant surprises. As is typical for the studio, Lionhead is promising big things for the next entry in its lighthearted action RPG series. We liked what we saw, and the title is definitely on our radar.Mojang has been working on Cobalt for a number of years. The project is led by Minecraft lead programmer Jens Bergensten and has a very small team (three people). The title takes its inspiration from Mega Man, with RPG elements swirled in. The competitive multiplayer takes those shooter concepts and blends them with a Smash Bros. style arena.As for Fighter Within, Ubisoft doesn't have a lot of time to make a good case for the title. Kinect-enabled fighting games have been tried on the current generation of hardware, and they have failed miserably. Combine the motion control with the possibility of online lag, and you've got a recipe for disaster. We hope we're proven wrong, but we're also skeptical.A free game in every Xbox One package... for EuropeLet's be honest. Microsoft doesn't need to win over the North American audience. That's why when Microsoft announced that FIFA 14 will be included with every Xbox One pre-order in Europe, we weren't surprised. We spoke with corporate vice president Phil Harrison about whether Microsoft was considering a similar deal for North America. He told us that there isn't anything to announce at this time.Between exchange rate and VAT (a tax of about 20 percent), the buy-in for Europeans is significantly higher than for Americans and Canadians. Microsoft also recently announced that it was cutting its launch markets from 21 to 13 in Europe. They have some relationships to mend, and the continent's most popular sport packaged in helps immensely.We might still see Madden 25 included here in the US, but we don't think it's likely.
No release dateWe were hopeful that Microsoft was going to announce the Xbox One release date, but the company has wised up. After Sony one-upped them at E3, Microsoft isn't about to hand the timing victory to the publisher (especially after Sony has all but committed to sharing its plans tonight). Microsoft wants to get the jump on Sony, and it can't do that if the Xbox One release date is announced first. We do have the list of 20 launch titles though, and we can safely say that the November window has been narrowed a bit. Expect the Xbox One between November 5 and November 19.We'll have more from Gamescom 2013 in Cologne, Germany, throughout the week.