Microsoft Roars Into E3 With Xbox Preview

LOS ANGELES, May 10, 2000 — Answering the call of expectant games fans, Microsoft pulled out the stops Wednesday with the arrival of a massive X-shaped theater to preview its Xbox video game console at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).

Microsoft games character Raven is pictured with the Xbox theater, which Microsoft trucked to Los Angeles after fans voted overwhelmingly that the company bring Xbox to E3.

The 16-foot-tall portable theater arrived outside the Los Angeles Convention Center on the back of a 14-wheel flatbed truck along with Raven, Xbox’s kick-boxing mascot, and a motorcade of Nissan Xterra sport utility vehicles.

Microsoft staged the event on the eve of the three-day gaming convention after receiving overwhelming support in an online poll for bringing Xbox to E3. Eighty-six percent of those who responded — more than 13,000 people — wanted convention-goers to preview the next-generation video game console.

Microsoft hadn’t planned to feature Xbox prominently at this year’s convention, since the console won’t arrive in stores until fall 2001.
“But when fans voted emphatically for us to go big with it this year, we decided to honor their wishes by bringing out the theater, a project we had been working on for several weeks and planned to release later this year,”
said Don Coyner, Xbox brand manager.

A crowd of convention-goers, reporters and onlookers gathered as the truck and escort SUVs eased up Figueroa Drive and stopped outside the convention center. The muscular Raven, dressed in form-fitting biking pants, mini-tank top and calf-high work boots, kicked open the wooden crate that encased the theater. She then hopped on top of the crate to display the black X tattoo on her stomach and raise her clenched left fist, which was encased in a black, animatronic glove.

Jason Astuto, a booth installer at the convention, stopped what he was doing to watch. Xbox’s arrival made quite an impression, he said.
“The girl really looked scary, like a video game character,”
Astuto said.

Astuto, an avid gamer who is anxious for the increased interactivity and improved graphics that Xbox promises, predicted the theater will heighten expectations among convention-goers.
“If I hadn’t already heard about Xbox, I’d be looking into it,”
Astuto said.
“I’d be looking on the Web and in magazines to see what information might be out there.”

Microsoft cleared room in its E3 exhibit for the theater. Crafted from polished metal, it seats 12 and will show a two-minute montage of Xbox games and visuals. Among the snippets are action sequences with Raven and another with a life-like dinosaur race.

Although the new game console is still early in development, Microsoft predicts Xbox will offer the most realistic home gaming experience ever. It will include broadband Internet connection, a 3-D audio processor and three times better graphics than any system currently available or planned for the market. Also, since the console is structured similar to a personal computer — complete with an Intel processor, 3-D video graphics chip and DirectX API programming ability — Microsoft predicts game-designers will have an easier time creating titles for Xbox.

“Xbox is a game machine designed by gamers for gamers,”
Coyner said.
“We have every intention of building the type of games that gamers want.”

Microsoft arranged the online poll to reinforce its solidarity with gamers. More than 16,000 gamers voted last week and early this week at and other games sites. Nearly 74 percent urged Microsoft to
“Bring it on”
with a glitzy Xbox display. Another 12 percent suggested more restraint, but didn’t want Xbox to stay home. The rest thought it was too early to give away Xbox secrets to the competition.

Along with Xbox, Microsoft highlighted 16 new PC games and two new pieces of gaming hardware at E3 — the most it has ever unveiled at the annual convention. The company’s exhibit space includes more than 50 individual stations for convention-goers to try the new games and new versions of several of its best-selling titles, including Combat Flight Simulator 2, MechWarrior, and the new Age of Empires II: The Conquerors Expansion.

  • Combat Flight Simulator II: The second in the best-selling CFS series puts players in the fiercest World War II air battles of the Pacific theater. Players fly American Corsairs and Wildcats, and Japanese Zero and George planes, and receive advice from former U.S. and Japanese pilots. Release date: Holiday season 2000.

  • MechWarrior 4: Players can command more than 20 80-ton war machines — including seven new machines with customizable weapons, armor and sensors — in tundra forests and arctic worlds. For the first time in the game’s history, the player isn’t a grunt private, rather a commanding hero in the center of a complex story of betrayal, revenge and honor. Release date: Early 2001.

  • Crimson Skies: Set in a fictional 1937, this new game lets players become Nathan Zachary, a dashing air pirate who always gets the girl. The game, conceived by Jordan Weisman, creator of BattleTech and MechWarrior, includes 24 missions and 12 specially fitted fighting planes. Release date: September 2000.

  • Age of Empires II: The Conquerors: This expansion of the best-selling Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings provides more content and a new historical setting, including new civilizations such as the Aztecs, Huns and Mayans. Release date: September 2000.

  • LinksLS 2001: Players can create and play their favorite course with this upgraded game’s Arnold Palmer Course Architect program. They also can compete online for money in the Virtual Golf Association Tour against other PC golfers. Release date: Fall 2000.

  • Motocross Madness 2000: The sequel to 1998’s Racing Game of the Year offers new stunts, tracks and daily player rankings on Microsoft’s online game site, Among the options: races in the Costa Rican jungle or the Bank One Arena in Phoenix, Ariz. Release date: June 2000.

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