X05 descends on Toronto

X05 descends on TorontoCanadian counterpart to European showcase outing gives press a glance at near-finished launch lineup, hardware features of Xbox 360.

TORONTO--Less than a month before the launch of its next-generation console, Microsoft held its X05 event in downtown Toronto, Ontario, to give more than 300 members of the Canadian media a chance to test-drive upcoming first- and third-party games.

Unlike its predecessors (the annual event dates back to X02), X05 was solely dedicated to the Xbox 360, due out November 22. Attendees who poured into the Lot 332 bar in the heart of Toronto's nightclub district throughout the daylong showcase got to see more than just the 360 launch games. They also spent some hands-on time with the Xbox 360 hardware, accessories, Xbox Live features, and media connectivity options, such as the ability to connect a PSP, iPod, or digital camera to the console.

"Next to E3, this is the biggest North American press event for us," said Aaron Greenberg, Microsoft's group product marketing manager for Xbox Live Global, who made the trek to the Great White North from Redmond, Washington.

"While we had most of these games at E3 and at X05 in Amsterdam, they're almost final now, so this is very exciting to see players in front of them," Greenberg added. "And all of our major third-party publishers are here, too, which is great."

Aside from Microsoft Game Studios, 12 video game publishers attended X05 Canada to demo their wares: Activision, Electronic Arts, Namco, Take-Two, Tecmo, Square Enix, Ubisoft, Sega, Vivendi Universal Games, Atari, Buena Vista Games, and THQ.

Toronto-based ATI Technologies, the company providing the custom graphics processor for the Xbox 360, and Samsung Canada were also partners for X05, each with demo stations and company personnel on hand to answer questions.

Activision's Gun, which garnered a lot of buzz at the event, was a newer build than what was shown at X05 in Amsterdam. Ditto for Microsoft Game Studios' Project Gotham Racing 3, Sega's Full Auto (with more car-damage physics implemented) and Activision's Call of Duty 2, which also had a new level not shown in Europe.

Other games that drew large crowds included Ubisoft's King Kong, EA Sports' NBA Live 06 and FIFA 06, Microsoft Game Studios' Perfect Dark Zero, and 2K Games' Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Canadian-made games, naturally, dominated the on-camera television interviews, including many of the EA Sports games, Ubisoft's Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, Sega's Full Auto, Ubisoft's King Kong, and Silicon Knights' Too Human.

"For media who haven't yet seen the Xbox 360 games, we're finding they're blown away at two things: how these games look in high-definition and all the things you can do with the free Silver Xbox Live membership, including chatting, Xbox Live Arcade, and downloading demos and trailers from the Marketplace," Greenberg said.

Jason Anderson, head of marketing for Xbox Canada, said X05 is "incredibly important" for the Canadian gaming industry. "We can talk about games until we're blue in the face, but events like this allow gamers to get their hands on them," said Anderson. "And this year we have more than 50 games instead of 30, as with last year, not to mention there's more of a platform story with X05."

With the Xbox 360, Anderson predicts Microsoft will become the number one console manufacturer in the world. "Our first-generation console exceeded our expectations, but it's time to move to market leadership."

"Sony doesn't control the market anymore" said Anderson. "Gamers will soon cast their votes, and we believe we can and will be number one."

By Marc Saltzman -- GameSpot
Posted Oct 27, 2005 11:03 am PT

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