Microsoft E3 2006 Press Conference

Unlike the console generation, Microsoft was last at 2006’s E3 to Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii when it came to press conference order. It gave Bill Gates and Co. to have the last word before the trade show actually opens on Wednesday. Not surprisingly, Microsoft’s focus was on games, but a few surprises managed to make their way through anyway, including some hardware announcements and new games.

Peter Moore steadfastly denies that the Xbox 360 shortages of last fall were self-imposed. Now that supply has caught up, he claims that by the end of June 2006, Microsoft will have sold through five million Xbox 360 units. Microsoft predicts that they will have a 10 million unit head start on Nintendo Revolution and Sony PlayStation 3 by the time that they reach market. Whether or not they reach their own target will not be known until November.

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Moore emphasized the use of Xbox Live, which he put at about 3 million users worldwide (comparatively, Sony claimed yesterday 3+ million online users in North America alone). 57% of Xbox 360 gamers have logged onto Xbox Live with an account. There have been 18 million Xbox Live Marketplace downloads to date with over 1,000 downloads available to Xbox 360 owners. Soon to be available on Marketplace is television content.

Games to feature Xbox Live Arcade support include, but are not limited to: Pac-Man, Contra, Super Contra Frogger, Galaga, Sonic the Hedgehog, Defender, Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, and Mortal Kombat 3. 100 independent publishers have signed on with Microsoft to provide content through the Xbox Live Marketplace. Microsoft views this as an opportunity for small publishers to reach millions of gamers without spending millions on marketing.

Some Xbox 360 games that were shown include: Lost Planet, Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway, Mass Effect, NHL 2K7, FEAR, Too Human, MotoGP 06, The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II, Sonic the Hedgehog, Madden NFL 07, Saint’s Row, WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2007, Stranglehold, Enchanted Arms, Test Drive: Unlimited, NCAA Football 07, Dead Rising, Prey, Superman Returns: The Videogame, NBA 2K7, Crackdown, Ninety-Nine Nights, Gears of War, Fable 2, Forza Motorsport 2, and Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Forza Motorsport 2 will come packaged with a wireless racing wheel. Microsoft will also offer a wireless headset and a camera later this fall.

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