Gamescom is starting soon, so we thought we’d let you know what we’re predicting the two big name console makers – Microsoft and Sony – will bring to the conference. This article will consider the possibilities for Microsoft’s offerings. You can find our thoughts on Sony through here.
Let’s start with what we know first. Call of Duty: Ghosts will make a multiplayer appearance at Gamescom, according to the rather extravagant multiplayer trailer livestream bonanza Activision held last week. Since that event was a Microsoft deal, it’s very safe to assume that CoD: Ghosts will play some part in Microsoft’s main conference, as well as on the showroom floor. Microsoft and Activision would be foolish not to continue their lucrative double act for Gamescom.
We also know that Microsoft Studios’/Rare’s Kinect Sports Rivals will be playable on the show floor. While this isn’t exciting in and of itself, it does mean that a large number of people will finally get to go hands-on with Xbox One’s Kinect 2.0. While gamers have often scoffed at motion controls and the gimmicks used to shoehorn it into games, the Kinect 2.0’s technical capabilities are very promising, and we may get to see some of those in action.
Excitingly, Microsoft is due to clarify its policy for self-publishing. Whatever the final policy turns out to be, self-publishing on Xbox One is good news for indies. I expect Microsoft will announce a very loose policy as a way of regaining some positive PR. If Microsoft can get behind indies, it might undo some of the damage done by, well, everything they said at E3.
Talking with Major Nelson, Microsoft Studios VP Phil Spencer said they would have some news about “Europe’s biggest franchise”. That, to me, means World of Tanks, which was revealed to be coming to Xbox 360 at E3. Perhaps that means World of Tanks will be coming to Xbox One, or maybe other Wargaming products World of Warplanes and World of Warships will be coming to Microsoft consoles. That could be an interesting development for fans of the online free to play franchise.
Finally, Microsoft has promised “exciting news” about a “unique exclusive”, which will be announced at Gamescom. Whether that ambiguous language means there will be a new IP announced, as speculated, or whether it just means one of their exclusives will get a big announcement is not clear. I am inclined to believe the rumour about a new IP, considering the recent rumblings at Insomniac regarding Bad Dinos, and the relative scarcity of Unreal Engine 4 and Epic Games information at E3. Another possibility is a return of Crackdown, as hinted by by some interactions with Phil Spencer.
Something I expect to hear about at Gamescom is Halo. We saw the teaser at E3, and Gamescom is the next major event for publishers. Whether it’s gameplay footage from a vertical slice, or just some more details and a CGI trailer, I don’t see how it’s possible for Microsoft to not mention their juggernaut IP.
Another possibility is a strengthening of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 showing. The new Xbox 360, redesigned after the Xbox One’s aesthetics, will probably get a showing. I think that Microsoft will dedicate some time to proving that they are still committed to developing games for that platform. They did declare that they would continue to support the 360 as a gaming platform at E3, and they’d be leaving themselves open to significant criticism if they didn’t at least mention that at Gamescom.
This may even extend to the announcement of an Xbox One/Xbox 360 bundle. Selling the Xbox One with the redesigned 360 could be the gateway deal for Sony fans. Buy an Xbox One for next-gen exclusives, get an Xbox 360 to catch up on all the current-gen games Playstation owners missed out on. Couple that with a retail price cut for games, and Microsoft could have something interesting there to rival the speculated PS4/Vita bundle. It won’t have the same synergy of the complementary Sony hardware, but, if offered at a competitive price, it could persuade some to buy into the Microsoft brand.
I’d personally love to see some more details about their upcoming exclusive Ryse. It copped a lot of criticism post-E3 for its extensive use of quicktime events, leading many to feel the game was basically playing itself. Subsequent details that have emerged have slightly allayed our fears, but until we see actual open gameplay, many will remain unconvinced by Ryse. Gamescom is the perfect opportunity for Microsoft to set the record straight on Ryse, for better or worse.
We’ll probably see some more specific release dates for their upcoming Xbox One titles. Oh, and an announcement for the console’s release date too, while they’re at it. Couple that with a bunch of new trailers, some pricing details locked down for peripherals, and a general consolidation of their messy, hasty online and downloadable policies, and I think Microsoft will have a decent showing at Gamescom. Nothing groundbreaking, but a second chance to deliver a clear message about their console.