The biggest news of the night is that Square Enix will release Final Fantasy XI on Xbox 360 and will also develop many more games in the future for Xbox 360.
Were honored that Square Enix will make games like FINAL FANTASY XI for the millions of Xbox® fans who have anticipated this historical moment for quite some time, said Robbie Bach, senior vice president and chief Xbox officer in the Home and Entertainment Division at Microsoft. Together, we will chart a new course for the future of video game entertainment.
Xbox has become a major force in video-game innovation, and we couldnt be more captivated by the Xbox 360 canvas, said Yoichi Wada, president of Square Enix. As the worlds first cross-platform online game with more than 500,000 users, FINAL FANTASY XI will take advantage of the incredible power of the Xbox 360 platform, immersing gamers in spellbinding stories that come to life in high definition and through collaborative online gameplay.
Electronic Arts announced its largest commitment ever to a new console launch. Titles include Madden NFL 06, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, FIFA 06, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06, The Godfather The Game, and NBA Live 06.
Microsoft also announced that the Xbox 360 will be backwards compatible with top-selling Xbox games. This statement has caused some debate as to whether all games will be supported or not, but I expect that by the November launch it will be confirmed that most, if not all, Xbox games will be playable on the Xbox 360.
Featured Xbox 360 Games
It was also proudly announced that more than 160 Xbox 360 games are currently in development with between 25 and 40 being ready in time for launch later this year. Microsoft featured a handful of games during their conference and we have some info on them here and here.
Support for Current Xbox Will Continue Through 2006
Xbox owners who dont plan on getting an Xbox 360 this year dont need to worry because Microsoft has promised that it will support the first Xbox through 2006 and beyond. There are more than 200 games expected to hit the Xbox this year including Half-Life 2 (Valve Corp.), Need for Speed Most Wanted (Electronic Arts), Ultimate Spider-Man (Activision), Far Cry Instincts (Ubisoft), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (Buena Vista Games), Star Wars Battlefront II (LucasArts), Shadow The Hedgehog (SEGA), Tony Hawks American Wasteland (Activision), Tom Clancys Rainbow Six: Lockdown (Ubisoft) and Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (Electronic Arts).
All in all, it was a pretty good press conference from Microsoft. They didnt tell us anything about how much the Xbox 360 is going to cost or when exactly it will launch, but they did confirm backwards compatibility with the first Xbox and showed off a number of new properties that will hit the Xbox 360 instead of just a ton of sequels. The fact that so many companies are working on new stuff instead of franchise titles is a very good sign.
It was great to see Square Enix pledging such strong support of the Xbox 360. They are power players and a big reason why Sony has been dominant for so long, so it is nice to see them playing the field a bit instead of being exclusive to one of the big three. Xbox has been seriously lacking in the Japanese-style RPG genre and this should definitely fix that problem.
The controversy over the 360 being backwards compatable with top selling Xbox games is going to be an issue over the next few months, but considering that the Playstation 3 and Nintendo Revolution will both be backwards compatable with their previous generations of software, Microsoft pretty much has to pledge full support to backwards compatibility to keep up.
Even with some things still up in the air, it is pretty clear at this point that the Xbox 360 is going to be great.