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Microsoft Details Year End Game Plan

Company holds low key press conference to announce price drop and a few new releases.

Borderlands was one of Microsoft's few software announcements for this press conference.

Microsoft usually makes a big fuss over its big Fall Tokyo press event, inviting all the overseas media who happen to be in town anyway for the Tokyo Game Show. From what I can tell, only the local media was invited this year.

A snub? It doesn't seem that way. Given that even Xbox business head Takashi Sensui sat out the event, Microsoft was probably going for something a bit more low key this year.

Here's a summary of what happened at the Xbox 360 Media Briefing 2009 event, based off 4Gamer's coverage.

Microsoft Home & Entertainment Business Xbox Marketing Head Jouji Sakaguchi lead the event this year. He kicked things off in typical fashion for a Microsoft press conference, with numbers. The 360 has sold 31.4 million systems worldwide, said Sakaguchi. Xbox Live membership has topped the 20 million mark. Domestically, the Xbox 360 saw a total of 61 releases between January and August of this year. You can see the 4Gamer story for some charts.

Sakaguchi then went on to introduce Microsoft's upcoming first party lineup. He highlighted two Halo projects: Halo 3: ODST, which was previously announced for a September 24 release, and the anime movie Halo Legends. The latter, which was first shown at America's Comic-Con 2009, will have a preview posted to Halo Waypoint, a new Xbox Live channel that will begin service this Fall.

Other first party titles introduced by Sakaguchi include Forza Motorsport 3, Riot Act 2, Alan Wake, Fable III, and Borderlands. Fable III and Borderlands were previously unannounced for Japan.

Sakaguchi moved on to third party titles, providing quick previews of Metal Gear Rising, Castlevania, Ninety-Nine Nights II, Tekken 6, Dragon Ball Raging Blast, FIFA 10, Bayonetta, End of Eternity, Splinter Cell Conviction, Assassin's Creed II, and Dead Rising 2. As reported here earlier in the day, Ninety-Nine Nights II is now set to be published by Konami.

One third party game got special attention. Lost Planet 2 director Kenji Oguro took the stage for a live four player demo of a battle against a giant AK. Porducer Jun Takeuchi, in attendance at the Yokohama CEDEC event, was unable to appear at the Shibuya press conference, but he did deliver a video message stating that he hopes to be able to ship the game while the weather is cold (Tokyo is cold through February and sometimes March, so this doesn't really say much).

Attendees of the upcoming Tokyo Game Show will be able to get an even better feel for Lost Planet 2 multiplayer, as the game will appear in playable form both for four player co-op and eight player versus play. The final build of the game will allow for 16 player versus.

This is where Sakaguchi turned to that always fascinating Xbox Live Arcade part of the press conference. He first provided some statistics. The service currently has 177 titles available for download. The most downloaded title is Bomberman Live. Sega's Virtual On Oratorio Tangram is number 2 (perhaps explaining why the game's director is making another Xbox Live Arcade game). Castle Crashers comes in at third.

Sakaguchi introduced only one Xbox live Arcade title at the press conference: Joy Ride, which makes use of an item transaction billing system. It was previously shown at E3, so consult your favorite overseas site for more details.

The big news for the day, the Xbox 360's new pricing structure came at the end of the press conference. Of course, the news had already been leaked out through the usual Famitsu leaks as well as a retail report. See this story from yesterday for all the details.

In addition to 4Gamer's pictures from the event, those looking for game media should check out Impress Watch.

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