The lights are on
We're back from the madness of E3. We saw lots of games, talked to some fascinating developers, and wandered the show floor looking for everything new in gaming. If you missed out on any of that coverage, be sure to check out our E3 News Headquarters. Otherwise, let's get started.
Microsoft's reversal on Xbox One policies narrows the gap with the Sony
Earlier this week, Giant Bomb broke the news that Microsoft would reverse two major Xbox One policies that drew the ire of gamers. The used game restrictions and the mandatory 24-hour check-ins are now gone. Discs will now be authenticated in the drive, eliminating the ability to use the console disc-free. Additionally, there is now no limit to the amount of time players can spend offline.
The downside is that game sharing across the board (even for digital purchases) has been at best put on hold, at worst abolished entirely. There are rumors floating that game sharing would only have been brief demos. These are unverified and likely false. Microsofts chief Xbox product officer, Marc Whitten refuted the statements from a supposed engineer stating:
— Marc Whitten (@notwen) June 21, 2013
There are also pundits claiming that customers had nothing to do with Microsoft's decision. Rather, those individuals believe that it was Sony's actions alone that forced the Xbox team's hand. These things can't be separated. Sony's choice to avoid used game restrictions and an online-dependent console met with consumer approval. Microsoft's decision did not. Clearly pre-orders were not where Microsoft expected them to be, despite what Marc Whitten said to me in an our brief interview after the announcement and Xbox president of interactive entertainment Don Mattrick's assertion that the console offers "thousands of dollars of value."
Thursday, I published an opinion piece that details why I think Microsoft will continue to push into the digital space (and likely have more success). I also detailed three steps the company can take to woo gamers in a way that doesn't feel heavy-handed or oppressive.
There is still a lot of time before the consoles launch and, as Game Informer managing editor Matt Bertz pointed out, a lot we have yet to learn, including third-party pricing for games. Here's hoping that Microsoft's decision to revise its plans for the Xbox One allows us to focus more on the games.
The biggest stories of E3
In case you missed it, we gathered the biggest trends from E3 2013 and put them in one place. You can check out our take on the overarching themes of gaming's biggest show, including a reluctance for publishers to show current-gen versions of cross-generational games. If you're just interested in games, be sure to check out our Best of E3 2013 awards.
The NPD report for May 2013 was painful\
The monthly NPD report for May 2013 is out, and the numbers were not pretty. As a reminder, NPD only tracks physical sales (digital is not included) in the United States. It's a slice of the global industry. According to Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, this was the weakest month for software since May 2000.
Total video game sales were down 25 percent over May 2012. The Xbox 360 was knocked off its perch as best selling hardware by the growing juggernaut 3DS (though the 360 is still the top selling "console" as handhelds aren't included in that category). Skylanders sales are still booming, keeping the accessory market afloat.
The new console generation can't get here soon enough, and we expect that the disruption in the industry (which led to more layoffs this week, this time at IO Interactive) will start to even out as more people flock to upgrade. This could be helped by much needed price drops for the PlayStation Vita and the Wii U, both of which had strong software showings at E3 last week.
Previews and Reviews
Announcements and Release Dates