Here in the land down under, we don’t get much attention from corporate big wigs. We’re not that important. We represent a small slice of the global market so why spend resources coming half way around the world to visit us? We’re a tech savvy bunch. We have the internet. We are quite capable of keeping tabs on things that happen with regards to our gaming obsessions. So why bother? Well, Phil Spencer thought we were important enough! Just in case you are wondering, he is the head of Microsoft’s Xbox division. He’s as big a wig as wigs get. So, if he takes the time out of his busy schedule to visit our neck of the woods it’s a big deal! When it was announced that he was coming, we here at Pixel Pop hoped for some information pertinent to the Australian market, we hoped against hope for the slim chance of a world exclusive bombshell, possibly even some amazing giveaway to celebrate the trip. So what did he have to say?
EB Games Expo 2016 – Where Phil gave his speech.
Well, the keynote speech started out with a replay of the intro video for the newly released Xbox One S. Something we had all seen before. I was nervous that this old news might set the tone for what was to come but I remained optimistic. On rolled Phil Spencer to enthusiastic applause. As a gaming nation, we want more of this to happen. We want Sony and Nintendo to follow suit and send a bit of love our way. To take us seriously as a significant player in the global community. He introduced himself and spoke about how excited he was to visit Australia. He warmly complimented the Aussie gaming community by calling Australia “a great place to be a gamer”, and referring to us gamers as “friendly, inviting and all here for one thing; which is the art form of playing games, building games and celebrating a pastime that we all love”. Why thank you Phil! We are a passionate and fun bunch! He also mentioned that he took the time to touch base with the indie developers down here to talk shop and to discuss how Xbox can help make their projects even more successful. Much of that was met with great enthusiasm.
Phil then moved on to all of the new features that are either coming to Xbox One or have already been released on the console. Features such as Backwards Compatibility, Cross Platform Play, Xbox Play Anywhere, Xbox Clubs and Xbox Looking for Groups all got a plug. This unfortunately wasn’t new information. I’m willing to bet there was not a single person in the audience who hadn’t already seen all of these reveals come out of E3 this year. Phil spoke about Xbox Clubs as if it were a feature that had already been out for a while, which was strange. It’s a feature that I have been waiting for with much anticipation and I hadn’t noticed it pop up on my console, so I checked. At the time of writing this article the Clubs and Looking for Groups tabs were still absent from my game’s hubs. Not sure what’s going on there… but anyhoo, moving on…
Features discussed during the Keynote were already revealed at E3 this year.
He then gave the Xbox One S a plug, promoting it’s advantages over the Xbox One. This seemed strange. Why promote tech that has already been released? What we’re looking for is an exciting view into the future. Tell us something we don’t know. Up until this point it still hadn’t happened. One thing that is worth a mention however is that the Xbox One S is at an incredible price for something that runs native 4K resolution and is essentially one of the cheapest HD Blu Ray players on the market. He then apologised for how at E3 he made the “foolish” move to reveal both the Xbox one S and Project Scorpio in the same event. He explained that he wanted everyone to know that these consoles form a “family” and that all games and devices currently in use on Xbox Ones will be forward compatible with Scorpio. He mentioned that to reveal the Xbox One S this year in full knowledge that Scorpio was coming next year felt wrong and that he would feel like he was cheating his community. Fair call, he did the right thing there, we don’t blame him. Plus this means that Xbox plans to be transparent with their future endeavors which is refreshing and highly welcome.
Lastly we got to Project Scorpio. This is the closest the audience got to receiving new information. Phil spoke openly about what inspired the design specifications for Project Scorpio. Two big things he mentioned was; what hardware was required to run games at 4K UHD and what was required to bring a Virtual Reality experience to consoles. While this is a lovely, candid insight into the inner workings of Xbox, the information wasn’t exactly groundbreaking or new to a lot of ears. He closed by thanking us Aussies again for our warm hospitality and threw the Project Scorpio Reveal Video up on the screen for a slightly anti-climatic finale. This was met with polite applause from the audience.
The Project Scorpio Reveal Trailer was a slightly anticlimactic way to end the Keynote.
Was there any new info? No. Any mention of some exciting local content? Not really. Did we get an exclusive bombshell to show to the world? Nope. But hey, we are still extremely grateful that Phil took the time to come out and visit us. The gesture is one of kudos and respect and has not gone overlooked. It shows the Australian Xbox community that we are appreciated and important enough to spend time with! Next time (hopefully sometime soon!) we might be imparted with the gift of something new we didn’t already know, like an exciting new game from an Australian Indie developer or a world-exclusive reveal! That would be incredible! So with that keynote out of the way, we warmly invite the heads of Sony and Nintendo to come out our way and experience our warm hospitality too! You bring the cool new toys, we’ll bring the excitement!