Xbox played it safe during E3 2019, when it could have nabbed the highscore.

Xbox had a good showing. Good, but not great.

I’m not going to bash the Xbox’s E3 2019 conference because I believe the company had a good show. We got updates on Halo Infinite and Gears 5, and Keanu Reeves even showed up and called us “fabulous” after a new Cyberpunk 2077 trailer. There were some great moments and the future looks bright, but there were still things missing. What could Microsoft have done to blow Xbox E3 2019’s press conference out of the water? I have a few ideas.

Seven things Xbox should have done to win E3

7 things
  1. Had more surprises.
  2. Fewer trailers would have felt like more.
  3. Where was the gameplay?
  4. Show us the Project Scarlett hardware.
  5. Given us more Xbox Game Pass incentives.
  6. Bring Nintendo on stage.
  7. Something a little Rarer.

Had more surprises

Xbox E3 2019 surprises


Xbox’s E3 2019 showcase delivered on everything it promised, but not much else. We were left anticipating major game reveals that never came. Tragically, what was arguably Xbox’s biggest reveal in Bleeding Edge from Ninja Theory was leaked ahead of the show. This left the conference feeling empty, as games we knew would be there continued to be wheeled out in front of audiences.


Fewer trailers would have felt like more

Xbox E3 2019 trailers


There’s nothing wrong with a good sizzle reel. Showing off non-stop action gets the endorphins flowing, as your mind is taken on an adrenaline-packed journey. There’s a place for that in every E3 press conference, but Xbox’s entire show felt like it was non-stop trailers. There weren’t many moments for us to catch our breath and get ready for the next game. A little pacing would have gone a long way in making each game announcement more exciting.


Where was the gameplay?

Xbox E3 2019 gameplay


During Xbox’s E3 2019 press conference, we finally got updates on the company’s heavy hitters, Gears 5 and Halo Infinite. Each received cinematics showcasing new elements of each entry, but gameplay for each title was sorely lacking. In-game footage of Gears 5‘s Escape mode has been released now, but why didn’t Xbox show any of that during the conference? Halo Infinite was in the same boat after failing to show how it will be any different from its predecessor. We are gamers, Xbox. We want to see the games.


Show us the Project Scarlett hardware

Xbox E3 2019 Project Scarlett


The next Xbox is still operating under the codename Project Scarlett, so this is an ambitious ask from Microsoft. Even then, Xbox had to respond with details on Scarlett after info on PlayStation’s next console was shared via Wired. Despite learning entry-level details about the new Xbox console(s) during E3 2019, it doesn’t feel real yet. Project Scarlett exists only in broad strokes right now, making it impossible to envision it in our living rooms. The sooner we see the box, the sooner we can envision playing Halo Infinite on it.


Given us more Xbox Game Pass incentives

Xbox E3 2019 Game Pass


I will die on the hill that is Xbox Game Pass being the best value in gaming. Microsoft has put together a subscription service that delivers all of its biggest first-party titles and more for an affordable monthly fee. That sort of accessibility is unheard of in gaming, but the unveiling of Game Pass Ultimate during E3 2019 teased more. Those subscribed to this Xbox Live/GamePass hybrid will be granted access to Gears 5 four days early. Offering exclusive content through Game Pass is brilliant, and it’s a shame that more offers like this weren’t touched upon.


Bring Nintendo on stage

Xbox E3 2019 Nintendo


What was once a (warp)pipe dream is now an inevitability. Cuphead and Minecraft: Dungeons coming to Switch are the most recent examples of Xbox’s newfound partnership with Nintendo. It’s believed that this is only the beginning of the relationship, as rumours have it xCloud and Game Pass will appear on Switch at some point. This could have led to an iconic moment, akin to 2018’s The Game Awards, where Nintendo and Microsoft stood together on the same stage. Instead, it was a missed opportunity to highlight the blossoming partnership.


Something a little Rarer

Xbox E3 2019 Rare


Xbox Game Studios is setting on a mountain of untapped IP, thanks to the studio known as Rare. Yes, we got a look at the new Battletoads game, which has been a long time coming, but where are the other Rare franchises hiding? Rumours have it that a Perfect Dark game is in development, but industry mumblings are far from official. Additionally, Banjo-Kazooie and Conker sequels are some of the most requested games by fans like myself. We’re long overdue for those ’90s icons from the Nintendo 64 era to return. I guess there’s always next year.

Riley's Take


Xbox played it safe during its E3 2019 press conference, and no one can blame it. There have been disastrous cancellations, like Scalebound and Fable Legends, during the Xbox One generation alone, so playing things closer to the chest moving forward is smart. Instead, E3 2020 is looking like the year Xbox begins to really build excitement for Project Scarlett. Here’s hoping that Xbox can strike a balance between bold new games and returning franchises like Banjo-Kazooie and Fable.

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Riley has written about video games across several publications for almost a decade now. In his eyes, there’s really no better field to work and grow in. During his time as a reporter, he's interviewed gaming legends like Super Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto and Mortal Kombat's co-creator Ed Boon–just to name a few. When he's not writing about games, he's often playing them. Super Smash Bros., Halo, Gears of War, and Rainbow Six are some of his all-time favourites. Outside of games, he’s also a fan of hockey, wrestling, and many other Canadian things. You can find Riley over on Twitter @TheRileyLittle.