With no hints of new hardware on the horizon, what exactly will Microsoft be hanging its considerable hat on? Will we see new applications for Kinect? Will there be new Xbox Live features? Will J. Allard make a Jordan-esque return from retirement? Bookmark this spot and find out at the company's E3 keynote, straight from the Galen Center!
It all begins Monday at 12:30 p.m. EDT, 9:30 a.m. PDT! See you there, with your bingo cards in hand, we hope!
9:06 a.m. PDT: We're lining up now, we'll see you inside!
11:01AM Despite being STUNNED by such a shocking revelation, the crowd has managed to regain their senses and march towards the exit.We're out of here. Thanks for reading!
10:58AM Chief escapes his casket and his destroyed vessel, as he heads to some sort of glowing portal. Halo 4, Holiday 2012!
10:58AM A heart starts beating -- "Wake up, John. Chief!"
10:57AM A new trilogy is capping the show. Is this a new Halo series?
10:57AM "Dawn of a new trilogy for Xbox 360..."
10:57AM Big promises too -- Mattrick says Xbox will become the best-selling console globally.
10:57AM "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 downloadable content will be available first on Xbox 360"
10:56AM Don Mattrick's back on stage to deliver a convenient summary of the briefing. Maybe he'll recap that bit where we zoned out ... was it around Star Wars?
10:55AM Two dancers show us how it's done. You know, we'd be this good if we had a dazzling lightshow to accompany our moves. We can nail those snap taps with EASE.
10:53AM Harmonix is here to show us Dance Central 2 -- now sporting a campaign mode, voice controls and a redone Break it Down mode. Oh, and simultaneous multiplayer dancing.
10:53AM "All songs from Dance Central one can be imported into Dance Central 2."
10:52AM "BLUE, 42. HIT ME, HIT ME! YOU'RE KILLING ME! RUNNING LIKE A KICKER" - Men being ... well, men on stage. Please don't ever do this in your living room. Promise us!
10:52AM We're seeing Football next, which supports two players in front of Kinect. Alright, we're going to suggest that yelling at the top of your lungs and engaging in macho smack talk is not essential for the game to work.
10:51AM We're seeing a demo of the golf gametype. You can change clubs via voice, and knock the ball to the green with a spirited swing. Don't mess up the putt!
10:50AM "Six new sports you've been asking for like Skiing and Tennis," Nicole Makila, producer, Kinect Sports: Season 2. "Today we'll be showing you football and golf."
10:49AM Baseball, Skiing, Golf, Darts, Tennis, Football -- that's Kinect Sports Season 2. BigPark is developing this. Is Rare tied up making Perfect Dark Zero Two for the next Xbox?
10:48AM "Kinect Fun Labs goes live today and is available to all Xbox Live members." - Kudo Tsunoda.
10:47AM Kinect Googly Eyes lets you scan in the things you love, and then become them on screen. Finally, America, you all get to be dancing hamburgers!
10:46AM Kinect Sparkler asks you to create a "fun pose" (aren't they all fun?!), then another. The two are juxtaposed in the same frame. You can then draw a sparkling trail in 3D and see the lighting reflect on both of your doppelgangers. It's neat, although not immediately relatable to gameplay.
10:44AM Good Science producer Abigail Lee is showing off one component of Labs, "Kinect Me." She stands in front of the Kinect, stands in the right frame to capture face and clothing. The result: A creepy blend between her normal face and a cartoonish avatar body.
10:43AM "Kinect Fun Labs is a permanent addition to the Xbox Live dash and available to all Xbox Live members." - Tsunoda
10:43AM We've got Kudo Tsunoda next. He's announcing Kinect Fun Labs, a home for innovations dreamt up by the game industry and Kinect fans. It'll be an addition to the Xbox dashboard, he says.
10:42AM Schaffer anecdote about leaving in the morning and turning to his daughter,"I gotta go makes games, honey." "Are you making a game for me?" For the first time he could say that he was. Daughter's reaction? "Oh, okay, bye."
10:42AM Now, they're grabbing at glowing bugs in the forest. Schafer says his three-year-old daughter asked him why he couldn't stay at home longer, and he told her he had to go make a game. "For me?" she asked. In this case, Schafer could say, "Yes."
10:40AM Cookie Monster and Elmo encounter a monster in the forest, and decide to join him in being "scary." A (possibly fake) father-son team on stage wiggle their arms and roar along with their on-screen puppet protagonists. It's simple, but cute!
10:38AM "Unleash the simulated family," Tim Schaffer asks for fake family to test Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster.
10:38AM Tim Schafer's here to extract us from the well of dispair. We're seeing Once Upon a Monster, Double Fine's Sesame street. We think he just said "puffelopes."
10:37AM Oh no, droidekas! Deflecting their lasers comes down to waving your hand back and forth in the most unexciting display of lightsaber mastery ever. The jedi cuts through droids, kicks one (initiated by kicking at the screen) and can thrust forward to get in close. Looks like we're about to duel a pair of sith warriors -- both touting two lightsabers. That's what, seven lightsabers in total?
10:35AM "LIGHTSABER, ON!" Wait, lightsabers have voice controls now?
10:35AM We're seeing a scene that takes place in what appears to be Bespin under siege. The guy just yelled "Lightsaber, on!" That's ... that's not canon. We can't handle this.
10:33AM Now we're seeing footage of Kinect Star Wars. We hope you're not Fett up with minigames at this point, 'cos that's what you're getting.
10:32AM It'll be available in YOUR home, Spencer says, in the holiday. YOUR home, because you're definitely getting it.
10:32AM "This is so-ooo-oo-oo cool." "Fist bump!" Kids showing of Disneyland Adventures.
10:31AM The next mini-game is a free-fall down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. Flail, my children. FLAIL.
10:30AM Okay, this is what's happening right now, in real life. Two players are waving their arms in the air, aping Peter Pan as he flies through Never Never Gonna Be Taken Seriously Land.
10:30AM Disney's also got something lined up: Kinect Disneyland Adventures.
10:29AM (Shouldn't it be Mimecraft, considering the motions you'll be doing in front of the TV?)
10:29AM "Today I am excited to announce a collaboration with Disney."
10:28AM He's talking about Minecraft -- and it's coming to Xbox 360 and Kinect this Winter!
10:28AM It's out in 2012. Phil Spencer from Microsoft Game Studios is back.
10:27AM This is a Kinect demo -- Lionhead's Dmitri sits on a chair, whipping the horses drawing his carriage. He gets out and disposes of some enemies by swiping across the screen, and doing a hadouken-esque motion to shoot a fireball. Seems to be a first-person mage game!
10:26AM "Albian a land long desired by those who should not possess it," Zoe Wannamaker's Fable voiceover. "When Heroes are no longer born, they must be made."
10:25AM We're seeing Albion again, and hear Theresa's narration. The age of heroes is over, she says -- when they're no longer born, they must be made. We see a girl running from a black smoke monster. Try going into the hatch, dear.
10:24AM It's Peter Molyneux! For the next iteration of Fable, he wonders how we can feel a hundred times more involved. Fable: The Journey is it.
10:23AM We're seeing Top Gear content and a release date: October 11. Man, MS is motoring through these game slices!
10:23AM "OH OH AYYYYYY YEAAAYYYY" - Forza Motorsport music.
10:23AM We're getting a glimpse at Forza Motorsport 4, next. Everyone is asked to don sunglasses in preparation for the incredible shine exuded by the game's excessively polished vehicles.
10:21AM Xbox Live co-op is in this version (no tunneling necessary!), due on Nov. 15, 2011. Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary will also sport seven multiplayer maps -- the "best ever," Master Chief says. He'll crush us if we don't believe him.
10:21AM "The campaign of the decade, remade and remastered." Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - Halo Combined with classic multiplayer maps for Xbox Live. Co-op over Xbox Live.
10:20AM Uh oh, there's Master Chief's voice. We're seeing footage of old, low-res Halo. This is the Halo remake.
10:19AM "There are two sides to power. Order and Justice."
10:19AM We don't get to hear it now, of course. Next up is Crytek's new game. "There are two sides to power," the trailer declares. A dog walks through a dilapidated market, bodies littering the streets. "This is Rome," an apparently violent place that invites you to do brutal motions in front of Kinect. This is "Ryse."
10:17AM "I got a gift for you," Ice-T. Body Count, that's the Ice-T band, is going to do a song for the game.
10:16AM "Keep firing." Marcus Fenix, master strategist.
10:15AM Fenix and his team are heading for the "silverbacks," which are armored suits. You've gotta dress up if you want to impress a monster this size.
10:14AM "Watch the tentacles!" It's hard not to notice them, as they bang on the walls and taunt Fenix and his co-op partner. The building looks like it's had some chunks bitten out of it -- and the gigantic creature outside seems unfazed by bullets.
10:12AM "Gears is better with a friend." Cliff Bleszinski brings out Ice-T
10:12AM Alright, we're starting with a Gears of War 3 trailer. Gears shooting chunky monsters to bits, growling monstrosities and ... Cliff Bleszinski!
10:11AM "BRING IT!" - Gears of War 3
10:11AM Phil Spencer, surprisingly UNPUMPED by the previous display of violence, is talking up games that you "can't find anywhere else." From now on, we're only talking Xbox 360 exclusives. So, all Halo games, then.
10:11AM "But at our core, Xbox will always be about games." Phil Spencer, Microsoft Studios.
10:10AM You can call the fight through the Xbox interface, and then see which of your friends bet on the right fighter.
10:09AM "You'll get all the best fights and compete with your friends only on Xbox."
10:08AM Oh, it's the UFC president, Dana White. Why WOULDN'T he be at an Xbox conference?
10:08AM It'll launch this fall, which is around the same time you'll be having a yelling contest with your family about what to watch. "Xbox, Castle." "NO XBOX, Jersey Shore!"
10:07AM "Xbox, Live TV." Live television is coming to Xbox 360 in the US and "around the world." Watching live TV on Xbox can be initiated with voice search too.
10:07AM "I am excited to announce that this is the year that live television come to Xbox 360." Not only in the US, but around the world.
10:06AM "Xbox Bing, X-men" loads up all the X-Men games, animated shows and movies. Yes even X-Men: Origins: Worlverine.
10:05AM "Xbox, Bing, Lego." Brings up all the Lego games available for the console on the marketplace.
10:05AM Bing is also coming to Xbox. "You say it, Xbox finds it." Xbox -- my keys!
10:05AM "Today we're excited to announce that Bing is coming to Xbox. You say it. Xbox finds it."
10:04AM "Xbox, music." slides to a music tab. There are also sections for games and videos. Controllers, gestures or voice are welcome, Whitten says. This year, expect a ten-fold increase in entertainment partnerships. First: Youtube is coming to Xbox Live.
10:04AM "YouTube is coming to Xbox Live."
10:03AM "It begins by giving TV a new voice. Yours." Tina sits down in front of the Kinect. "Xbox. Home." This takes her to a new "home" screen.
10:02AM "It begins by giving TV a new voice: yours," Marc Whitten.
10:02AM Here's Marc Whitten. He's promising more games, movies, music and ways to connect with friends in the living room.
10:01AM "Gunsmith will pave the way on Kinect." Guillemot. "All future titles in the Tom Clancy franchise will leverage Kinect."
10:00AM It also works with voice commands -- and you can jump straight into a test area to try out the weapon configuration. "Optimize for long range" generates a completely different loadout.
9:59AM "Chris" comes out, and starts customizing weapons, "even down to the inner parts." He swipes through the menus with his hand, and draws his arms apart to explode the entire weapon into its components. This allows for quick weapon optimizations, he says.
9:59AM "We allow players to customize any weapon in the game, even down to its inner parts," Chris demoing Ghost Recon weapons. "You can make 29 unique weapons through gesture or through voice."
9:58AM Yves Guillemot of Ubisoft is out on stage, showing us how this game will utilize Kinect.
9:57AM "We have been big believers in Kinect since day one." Ubisoft's Guillemot
9:57AM A bomb detonates beneath a truck, and the action slows to a crawl mid-explosion. The camera flies through the environment, showing various stages of combat. Reminds us of the opening to Swordfish. (We're sorry we had to remind you of it too.)
9:56AM Now we're see a trailer for what appears to be Ghost Recon: Future Soldier.
9:56AM "Epic, awesome, fun!" Dr. Muzyka. "Mass Effect 3 will be the best game in the series."
9:55AM A gigantic mech drops from the sky -- the music lets us know we're going to fight it, but the demo cuts away before we see any more. How about ... "Mech! Activate self-destruct mode!"
9:55AM The audience just clapped for a contextual melee attack. Yay!
9:55AM "Liara, singularity!" Action given as Kinect voice command.
9:54AM It's not just about yapping, though. Kinect combat gives you more options -- "Liara, move up! Garrus, move up!" Those voice commands translate to in-game squad commands.
9:54AM "You let them die?" "I don't need her trust." "Of course not!" "You're the Krogan's last hope." All given as voice commands through Kinect on Mass Effect dialogue wheel.
9:54AM You'll feel more connected to the game this way, he says. We see Shepard, Liara and Garrus enter some kind of facility. The dialogue works with voice recognition, so you can read the option you want and Shepard will initiate. This seems ... goofy.
9:52AM Dr. Muzyka's out for Mass Effect 3. "Today, I'm pleased to announce that Mass Effect 3 will also support Kinect." That means: Voice recognition.
9:50AM He's announcing that 4 sports titles will support Kinect this year -- PGA, Madden, FIFA and "one we'll announce later."
9:50AM "This feels familiar. Great to be back on the stage," says Moore, a solid veteran of the stage.
9:49AM Next up: EA Sports president, Peter Moore. "This feels vaguely familiar," he says.
9:49AM It's due in Fall 2012.
9:49AM The cave is collapsing, and she leaps between tumbling platforms while the music swells. One last big jump -- and she scurries through the cave exit, and onto the island that's still littered with here wrecked ship.
9:48AM She heads up a ramp, and into a cage suspended from the ceiling. She leaps into it, and onto a different walkway. Her escape gains some speed, as she runs towards a lit entrance, but she slips and slides down a long tunnel. Almost there!
9:47AM The water is getting unbearably high in the cave, she can barely keep her head above water. She emerges in a larger cave. Her "survival instincts" highlight potential objects that might aid her escape. A couple of contraptions surround her.
9:46AM "That was close, that was close ... just keep moving," Lara says in panic. She's not the girl with the one-liner here.
9:46AM She's badly injured, and slowly walks through a cave, torch in hand. She's grabbed from behind! Wiggle the left stick! "That was close. That was close," she whispers.
9:45AM Tomb Raider is about "how an ambitious 21-year-old Lara Croft becomes a hardened survivor."
9:44AM Lara wakes up, shivering and hanging upside-down in a cave. She swings back and forth to escape from her confines, knocking another hanging bag into a fire. It catches fire and allows her evil sleeping bag to burn and drop through to the ground.
9:43AM From Crystal Dynamics: Darrell Gallagher and Daniel Neuberger, who are going to show off the new Tomb Raider.
9:42AM People are "flocking" to interactive entertainment, he says. More entertainment services are coming up -- but first, some games.
9:42AM "Thank you for making last year the biggest year in Xbox history."- Mattrick
9:42AM Next up: Don Mattrick, who's going to walk us through the briefing's upcoming announcements.
9:41AM "The biggest, most exciting and epic Call of Duty ever," said Schofield
9:40AM Please welcome, "Infinity Ward Creative Strategist" Robert Bowling, and Sledgehammer Co-founder, Glen Schofield.
9:40AM A boat chase ends in an aircraft, which takes us away from the water and gives us one more glimpse at the ruined city.
9:39AM They activate a launch, escape the sub and land on a boat. The next scene is of utter mayhem -- jets, rockets, explosions, waves, all summoned effortlessly in the engine. Michael Bay gives this a thumbs up.
9:37AM "In the interest of time..." we jump ahead in the demo. The ship's in rough shape, with water pouring in from all sides. A well-placed explosive charge takes care of a sealed door. The soldier's storm in and eliminate their enemies.
9:36AM We slide down the ladder, into the ship, and blast some enemies emerging from the claustrophobic corridors.
9:35AM Press and hold X to plant mine. Easy! The divers get away just as the sub explodes. We break through the surface and see a ravaged New York City. The soldiers board the submarine and dispatch its exiting occupants.
9:34AM "Keep it steady." The sub goes by overhead -- very Star Wars: A New Hope! -- in a tense, rumbling scene. "Okay, go!"
9:33AM Some serious, military scuba divers approach a submarine, looking to plant a mine on it. The seamen are going down a tunnel, beneath a pipeline and towards their target.
9:31AM The briefing is starting! First up: A Modern Warfare 3 trailer. We're seeing a snippet of the "Hunter Killer" mission
9:29AM Avatars and gamertags float by on the screen, some of which belong to the press. We're jotting these down and checking whether they finished Brink.
9:25AM "Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. The briefing will begin in 5 minutes." Last year, people got Xboxes -- this year, they're getting reasonably comfortable seats.
9:22AM "Xbox 360 is about YOU," proclaims the screen. By extension, this press conference is about US. This could get self-indulgent, folks.
9:17AM We're inside, seated, and trying our hardest to divine all of Microsoft's scoops using nothing but the power of our minds.