Press Conference: Microsoft Versus Nintendo

Having gone to both the Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube press-conference, and being a supporter of both respective consoles, I think it would be quite interesting to pit the overall presentation of each pre-show against the other. This wont be easy, considering both Microsoft and Nintendo have recently announced their dedication to software over hardware, yet both have an incredibly different target audience and game library. I think the easiest way to tackle this presentation is to look at the different areas of scope: style, games, and press reaction. This article merely scratches the surface of this much debated topic and leaves the ultimate decision up to you.

Arriving at the Microsoft Xbox press conference, you could help but be immediately impressed with the impressive organization. There was zero confusion on where to go, where to check in, and where to wait for the show to start. Exhibitor and press tables were conveniently stationed by continent and reason of attendance. From there, I made my way to the lobby waiting area where complimentary cocktails and ordure platters were served by beautiful women. How can you not take advantage of free drinks? Jenny McCarthy and a few other familiar faces were also there entertaining eager attendee’s and taking pictures with men that would otherwise only dream of such an opportunity.

Once the doors to the actual conference had opened and viewers were asked to take their seats, people were entered into the eye candy that Microsoft can deliver oh-so-well. The press conference took place in the Shrine Auditorium with two levels of stadium seating. Green lighting, of course, filled the room and really added to the overall feel as well as the two massive towers positioned on each side of the stage with the Xbox logo engraved onto it. The keynote speakers were enthusiastic as they should be, and delivered their presentations with confidence. Taking advantage of their money, they also flew in a full line of professional athletes to stress that fact that EA is actively bringing their EA Sports titles to Xbox Live. Overall, Microsoft knows how to take advantage of a good thing and make usually bland concept seem interesting and innovative.

Arriving at Nintendo’s press conference, I was greeted with the same level of organization that I experienced at Microsoft’s press-conference. Service desks were set up to offer help for everybody attending but making your way to the actual conference location was a little more difficult as it was located on the 5th floor of the Kodak theater. After signing in, we were offered complimentary, non-alcoholic drinks and snacks. Possibly Nintendo wanted everybody sober and thinking straight before they dropped several mega hit bombs? Nintendo did not bother with Hollywood celebrities; rather they relied on their own famous faces such as Shigeru Miyamoto to keep the audience smiling. Their presentation was very successful and they made great use of lighting and the space that was available to them. Key note speakers were very active in boasting how their return to the top is all going according to plan. Speakers also made a direct attempt to explain how and why Nintendo is better than the competition and future Nintendo consoles will dominate the market. Certainly something different than what we are used to from Nintendo.

Overall Style Breakdown

  • Food and beverage: Microsoft
    *Free alcohol and meat and fish samplers takes over Nintendo’s non alcoholic bar and chocolate coverage pretzels, peanuts and popcorn.

  • Seating: Microsoft
    *The Shrine Auditorium offered stadium seating and more spacious seating. Though Nintendo offered comfortable bean-bags for individuals sitting in the first few front rows which was definitely cool.

  • Speech’s and deliverance: Nintendo
    *Both offered the usual video trailers that are subject to personal opinion, but Nintendo came across as more aggressive in their speeches and confident of where they are in the industry and where they are going. Both were equally organized and helpful to attendee’s in need of help.

    OVERALL: Microsoft

    Games, Hardware and Services
    What can I say besides the fact that Microsoft has a very strong upcoming game lineup for Xbox. A plethora of upcoming hit titles were presented, but unfortunately not many new games were announced. Perhaps the biggest new title that Microsoft announced was their breathtaking simulation racing title, Forza Motorsport. I had the opportunity to play the game one on one with Microsoft big wig and friend, Ken Lobb. He also showed me the rest of the titles he is personally in charge of, all of which are highly anticipated games. Back to the press conference, one thing I noticed was something that is subject to personal opinion. It seems that while Microsoft had a very strong list of titles, none of which were instant triple-A titles that will go down in history, except for possibly Halo 2. Microsoft’s biggest upcoming title is with out a doubt Halo 2, especially with the new multiplayer feature. Unfortunately, the multiplayer footage they showed of Halo 2 was rather weak overall. They showed footage of one versus one, but no intense 4 on 4 or even any mouth watering details of Xbox Live gameplay. Again, while Microsoft had a very strong listing of future big name titles, they were all the same games shown at last years E3, for the most part. Aside from games, Microsoft really pushed Xbox Live as their key future attraction for Xbox. They added new features to the Xbox Live service, and most every game shown at the conference offered online gaming.

    I understand all these opinions presented are indeed just opinions, but one thing that is certain is the concept that both Microsoft and GameCube develop and offer, for the most part, different types of games. Knowing that concept, one can still compare the overall quality and presentation of a title regardless of its genre. Nintendo also had a very strong lineup of games, but at the same time they presented a couple super mega hit titles too. What is a super mega hit title? To me, it’s when both supporters and non-supporters can mutually agree that particular game absolutely kicks ass and is worth buying that system over. Also, the fact that people will still play the game years to come, much like people still do with Halo, which was an Xbox launch title. On top of Nintendo’s impressive list of upcoming games, they also announced their new handheld, the Nintendo DS. From viewing all the trailers and game demonstrations and even getting hands on impressions, I can honestly say that the DS is very, very impressive and is more than capable of carrying Nintendo’s handheld dominance well through generations to come.

    Overall Games, Hardware and Services Breakdown

  • Quantity of hit titles: Tie
    *Both Microsoft and Nintendo have a very solid list of high profile titles.

  • Quantity of AAA mega hit titles: Nintendo
    *Nintendo not only has a solid list of potentially great games, they have a few sure hit million sellers on the way as well.

  • Services: Microsoft
    *Xbox Live is one of a kind for online console gaming.

  • Hardware: Nintendo
    *The Nintendo DS went above and beyond the expectations of most. World-wide wireless multiplayer, voice activation, touch screen, dual screens, impressive 3d games, etc.

    OVERALL: Nintendo

    Press Reaction
    The overall reaction from the press in the Microsoft pre-show was less than compelling. Perhaps it was the fact that everybody knew what would be presented ahead of time, maybe it was the fact that the majority of hardcore Xbox gamers had one too many drinks and was having a hard enough time keeping up with what was going on (*cough*me*cough*). Maybe it was something else or a mixture of a bunch of things, but overall, there was nothing more than a measurable round of applause here and there. The most compelling ovation that was given through out the entire press conference was when Mohamed Ali was introduced; he received a standing and roaring ovation.

    Everybody knows that Nintendo fans are passionate. But what is to be said when everybody from investors to Sony and Microsoft fans, and even haters are on their feet clapping and howling. On multiple occasions, key note speakers often had to pause their presentation to let the audience calm themselves, especially when both the Nintendo DS specs and capabilities were revealed as well as the ending announcement of a mature new Zelda title and Metroid Prime 2 multiplayer footage. I could definitely feel the excitement in the air.

    OVERALL: Nintendo

    So what can be summarized with the information contained in this article? Quiet simply, nothing. For this generation, the competition between Nintendo and Microsoft will not sway and little will change from the position they are at today. Chances are they will be neck and neck until the next generation of hardware is released, and a new war will start. Everything is far too deep to change and the path has been set for both companies with little room for wondering. Microsoft fans will say the Xbox press conference was better and visa versa for Nintendo fans. As far as the press conference, both were good in their own way. Advid supporters of each console will definitely be pleased with what their respective console has to offer in 2004 and beyond.