Before the Electronic Entertainment Expo officially starts Wednesday, the three big console makers will hold their own highly produced press conferences to launch new titles, features, and services.
Microsoft got things rolling at 9:30 a.m. PT this morning with a briefing it's dubbing "The Future of Gaming and Entertainment." CNET is on the scene in Los Angeles to bring you the news live, as it happens.
Of course, there's plenty of gaming news as well, including a big emphasis on voice control and the ability, in battle games, to shoot with gestures alone. Kids can take a virtual tour of Disneyland via Kinect, and Kinect Sports is getting six new activities, including skiing and tennis. And look for Halo 4 around the 2012 holidays.
Transcript of the live blog starts here:
9:31 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): And it begins...
9:32 a.m. PT (Dan Ackerman): First up, a demo--I'm assuming the next Call of Duty game. Ha, great moment when the controller for the demo disconnected for a second. I guess MS already blew my "slick, flub-free" prediction.
9:33 a.m. PT (Jeff Bakalar): E3 prediction already hit: MS is showing off a game that is NOT console-exclusive.
9:33 a.m. PT (John Falcone): Yes, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will also be on PS3 (and PC, I'm assuming).
9:39 a.m. PT (Jeff Bakalar): The action certainly is fantastic, it's certainly more of a compliment to the game's developer, Infinity Ward.
9:40 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): Robert Bowling and Glenn Schoefiled of Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games talking now. Glenn: We can't wait for November 8. That's when it launches.
9:41 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): Don Mattrick is onstage. He's the Xbox boss. Don: Thank you for making last year the best in Xbox history. Don promises to "unveil a better way to enjoy television." But that's coming later.
9:44 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): Tomb Raider devs: Lara on a "journey of intense and visceral survival." (Me: Kinda like live-blogging an Xbox presser.) A wounded Lara walking through some caves it looks like. Some attacks. But she manages to prevail. Who woulda thought?
9:46 a.m. PT (John Falcone): You can see how the programmers learn to squeeze every pixel of detail out of these games, now that they've gotten used to programming on the Xbox. These games look much better/detailed than most of the titles from a few years back.
9:49 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): EA Sports President Peter Moore. Used to run Xbox. Ran Xbox games I should say, not the entire division.
9:50 a.m. PT (Scott Stein): Madden gets Kinect support, plus FIFA and Tiger. Other unnamed game...curling?
9:51 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): Now comes Bioware. We're moving quickly from one game to the next, one publisher to the next. Mass Effect 3 is "all about kick-ass action."
9:52 a.m. PT (Jeff Bakalar): Mass Effect 3 getting voice control via Kinect. Kinect allows players to speak out dialog wheel commands. Team commands via Kinect too.
9:54 a.m.-10 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): They're speaking commands to move troops forward. It's unclear to me when, during the game, you can use voice commands. But it could be cool to move armies around with voice rather than buttons. Ghost Recon showing now. Just saw a knifing. Blood splatters the screen. Ubisoft is up now. Ubisoft showing customizable weapons in Ghost Recon, right down to specific parts, including scopes and muzzles. And you can change them with voice or gestures, not just buttons. Now they're shooting guns with gestures, opening his palm to fire the gun.
10 a.m. PT (Jeff Bakalar): Controller-less shooting in a game, first time we've seen that. All future Ghost Recon games will support Kinect.
10 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): Mark Whitten from Xbox Live is up now. Mark: Talking about the non-game entertainment piece--"We must get the technology out of the way."
10:02 a.m. PT (Jeff Bakalar): Brand new Xbox dashboard.
10:03 a.m.-10:07 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): All about voice control of the Xbox experience. Moving to video, games, and music, just by saying the words. Mark: "This is only the beginning." Microsoft plans to increase its partnerships by a factor of 10. Including YouTube. Bing coming to Xbox. Voice search on the Web from your living room. Mark: "Bing on Xbox gives you effortless discovery." Mark: This is the year live TV comes to Xbox 360. Mark: This is our vision for the future of television. Mark: Your new TV experience launches this fall.
10:08 a.m.-10:10 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): Now Dana White, prez of UFC. They're showing the ability to click through content about the fighters while watching the fights.
10:10 a.m.-10:19 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): Phil Spencer from Microsoft Studios up now. From this point on, everything will be Xbox 360 exclusives. Gears of War 3 now. Epic Games designer now, talking Gears. Ice T onstage. The characters think they're safe. "No they ain't," says Ice T. And Ice T is playing too, not just talking. Rome being played in video with Kinect--swing virtual axes. And now for Halo.
10:20 a.m. PT (Jeff Bakalar): Remastered Halo Combat Evolved!?
10:21 a.m.-10:27 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary on November 15. Forza Motorsport 4 onstage now. Ooh, the Ferrari looks pretty slick. Video says Kinect voice and headtracking in Forza 4. Here comes Fable: The Journey. Fable video: A damsel running through the forest, rescued by our hero. A gamer, doing a demo, now plays the game with Kinect, handling the reins of the horse carriage. The gamer is throwing firebolts with hand gestures. And the Fable demo ends.
10:28 a.m.-10:32 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): Microsoft's Phil Spencer back onstage. Minecraft demo coming. Minecraft coming exclusively to console gaming on the Xbox this winter. Here comes the Disneyland demo, using Kinect. You can tour Disneyland using Kinect. We're going on Peter Pan's flight, via video. Two kids are flying on Kinect--waving their arms to move about. Two other kids jumping through the Looking Glass, waving their arms madly as they ride in virtual hamster balls. Coming this holiday.
10:33 a.m.-10:36 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): And now Star Wars on Kinect. The lightsaber has the potential to be really cool, or really lame. Let's see. OK, so you use the word "lightsaber" to call up your weapon, then slash away. The graphics aren't that great, though. Not the quality of the other games, in my humble estimation.
10:37 a.m.-10:41 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): Tim Schafer of Double Fine onstage now. Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster game demo. A "simulated family" takes the stage--well just a father and son--playing as Elmo and Cookie. They're playing games with the "scary" monster, dancing with him. Now the father and son are catching flies, just grabbing them with hand gestures. Tim: I hope you are at least as excited as my daughter is.
10:42 a.m.-10:47 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): Kudo Tsunoda of Kinect onstage. Wearing sunglasses. Talking Kinect Fun Labs. Fun Labs will appear on the Xbox dashboard. Showing people scanning, where you can create an avatar that looks just like you. The scanner captures face, hair, even clothing. Showing Kinect finger tracking. Drawing in 3D around pictures of individuals on the screen. Interesting technology. Don't quite get why I'd do it, though. Now using Kinect to scan a stuffed animal. Now the user can dance as the stuffed animal.
10:48 a.m.-10:53 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): Here comes Kinect Sports: Season Two. Six new sports, including skiing and tennis. The demo, though, is football and golf. Virtual golf swings sends ball down the fairway. Voice to change club. Onto football. Say "hike " to get the ball. The quarterback gets sacked. He held the ball too long. And now Dance Central 2. Voice control in Dance Central 2. And all songs from Dance Central 1 can be imported into DC2.
10:55 a.m.-11 a.m. PT (Jay Greene): Back to Don Mattrick. The end is probably near. Don: Voice search: "You say it, Xbox finds it." Don: Xbox is poised to register another record year. Don intros demo of new trilogy for Xbox 360. And it is...Halo 4. Holiday 2012. And that's a wrap. The graphics in the new games were, for the most part, impressive. There were plenty of sequels, and then some. I have to say that I was expecting a bit more of the non-gaming entertainment, to be honest.
Editors' note: The original, bare-bones version of this story was posted June 3 at 3:20 p.m. PT.