Hardware aside, it's games that makes a console. So how is the Xbox 360 shaping up when it comes to developer support?
One of the reasons the Xbox 360 seems poised for success is that developer support is very strong. Microsoft's Peter Moore noted that about 4000 developer kits for the new console have already been distributed. While many developers, especially Japanese ones, were sceptical of the Xbox when it arrived in 2001, most of the naysayers eventually came on board.
The one key thing about the industry now is that the days of seeing the sorts of exclusive deals that helped Nintendo rule the roost back in the day are probably gone for good. The fact that a company like Rockstar would convert its Grand Theft Auto games over to the Xbox speaks to how Microsoft made believers among the development community.
The nature of the video game business for publishers is to reach as many people as possible. Consoles with user bases in the millions can't be ignored. There's been enough excitement in the development community over the current Xbox hardware and the potential of Xbox Live that making the leap to the 360 right now makes smart business sense. The powerful hardware, which MS has made no secret it's aiming to make as developer-friendly as possible, will have a very powerful draw on developers, who are always hungry for more muscle to realise their visions.
This has ensured a healthy amount of support from Western developers, but, based on all the announcements that have been made in the months leading up to E3, it appears MS has managed to entice the Japanese development community as well. With support from heavy hitters such as ex-Square motherbrain Hironobu Sakaguchi, who is now with Mistwalker, and ex-Sega visionary Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the 360 is poised to have unique content that should have a strong appeal to the Japanese market and, by default, the global one. By signing developers of that calibre and by retaining close ties with Tecmo's amazing Team Ninja, all signs point to the 360 software library having some great content. This is ultimately all coming about because Microsoft has shown it "gets" what's needed to be a success in the console space and that confidence is picked up on by developers who are eager to throw down with someone who's hungry to make a mark in the industry.
Here are some games that have been announced or are known to be in development on the Xbox 360.
2 Days to Vegas
Developer: Steel Monkeys
Not much is known about this action adventure game so far, but the cars in early screenshots, as well as the storyline--which involves a convict who must help get his younger brother out of trouble--is reminiscent of the Nick Cage film Gone in 60 Seconds.
The maker of the Max Payne series will be bringing this game to the Xbox 360. The screenshots and first trailer show a quiet, eerily idyllic setting in a heavily forested area near the coast.
Hironobu Sakaguchi and other ex-Square developers are hard at work on a role-playing game for the Xbox 360. Character design will be done by noted illustrator Akira Toriyama. The two previously collaborated on the classic SNES RPG Chrono Trigger, which bodes well for Blue Dragon.
This survival horror game from Sega and Monolith will follow Ethan Thomas, an FBI agent in the Serial Crimes Unit (SCU), which is a team of G-men dedicated to tracking down serial killers, Clarice Starling-style. While playing as Thomas, gamers must navigate "urban environments filled with deadly sociopaths who lurk on the periphery of humanity," according to Sega. Sign us up.
Developer: Digital Extremes
This first-person sci-fi action game is being developed by the same folks that brought you Unreal Championship and Unreal Tournament 2003. The first trailer shows a stealthy alien skulking his way through the halls of a human base or ship.
Developer: Starbreeze Studios.
Publisher: Majesco Games
The developer of the surprise hit, The Chronicles of Riddick, are hard at work on a new action game, which is adapted from a comic book of the same name. Players will take the role of a Mafia hitman named Jackie Estacado who is possessed by strange, mystical powers.
Developer: Terminal Reality
Publisher: Majesco Games
Noted horror author Clive Barker teams up with the makers of Bloodrayne to produce this game, which will be based on a horror movie. If the storyline is as compelling as Undying, Barker's last foray into games, then Xbox 360 players should be in for a treat.
Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Publisher: 2K Games
The creator of the monstrously epic Daggerfall and Morrowind role-playing games will bring the next iteration in the Elder Scrolls series, Oblivion, to the Xbox 360. The game promises to offer the same open-ended style of gameplay and story advancement as its predecessors.
Gears of War
Developer: Epic Games
Publisher: MS Game Studios
Probably the most impressive-looking of the first batch of titles revealed for the Xbox 360, Epic Games' Gears of War looks like it's going to be a hard-hitting sci-fi-themed tactical shooter. Featuring a behind-the-back, third-person perspective and an impressive level of detail in the characters and environments, Gears of War has blockbuster sci-fi hit written all over it. We wonder how it'll actually play, though.
Ghost Recon 3
If the previous games in the series are any indication, players will lead a team of highly trained and heavily armed special forces units through intense tactical battles in Ubisoft's upcoming shooter.
Kameo: Elements of Power
Developer: Rare, Ltd.
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Originally slated for release on the Xbox, Rare's platformer will instead debut on the Xbox 360. The titular heroine of the game has the ability to magically transform into different monsters, giving her specialized powers to fight off the evil trolls that have invaded her land.
Need for Speed Most Wanted
Developer: Electronic Arts
Publisher: Electronic Arts
EA's hugely successful street racing series is coming to the Xbox 360, complete with some high-speed, dangerous police chases this time around.
Perfect Dark Zero
Developer: Rare, Ltd.
Publisher: MS Game Studios
Perfect Dark Zero is the sequel to the classic Rare shooter from the Nintendo64. Details on the game were spilled by a clan of female professional gamers, whose members revealed that the game would include spy gadgets and jetpack-like devices.
Project Gotham Racing 3
Developer: MS Game Studios
Publisher: Bizarre Creations
The beloved Xbox racing franchise is officially headed to the Xbox 360. Kudos to whoever made that decision. We can't wait to see how it turns out.
Developer: Raven Software
Like Call of Duty 2, Quake 4 hasn't been specifically announced for the Xbox 360 yet. But the Raven-developed sequel to id Software's classic shooter series was spotted in trailer form at the taping of MTV's Xbox 360 premiere show.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06
Developer: EA Sports
Publisher: EA Sports
We're almost frightened to think about how realistic Tiger Woods is going to look in the first Xbox 360 installment in his highly acclaimed golf sim series.
Tomb Raider: Legend
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Lara Croft is back, but you probably already knew that just from hearing the collective swoon of prepubescent boys. In her latest adventure, she'll be platforming through various settings, such as an office building, a mineshaft, and (what else?) a medieval tomb. Also look for her to wield her signature guns akimbo, as well as a rocket launcher.
Tony Hawk's American Wasteland
American Wasteland will set the Tony Hawk series in one gigantic Los Angeles, free from loading times. The game will also feature BMX biking and online play via Xbox Live.
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