Microsoft recruited some heavy hitting pop-culture icons for its annual E3 videogame conference press presentation this morning in Los Angeles. Surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and George Harrison’s widow, Olivia Harrison, helped announce the launch of The Beatles Rock Band. Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg showed up to tout a new controller system in which players use just their bodies to manipulate the game on their TV.
McCartney, Starr, Ono, and Harrison all made brief appearances to help plug the newest version of the popular Rock Band franchise, which will hit stores on Sept. 9 (you know, 9/9/09), which just happens to be the same day on which CDs of the entire Beatles digitally remastered catalog will arrive on shelves. (The game will also be available for Sony’s Playstation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii.) “The game is good, the graphics are very good, and we were great,” said Starr. After watching a demo of the game, featuring Sims-like avatars of the Fab Four, McCartney joked, “I’d never thought I’d see myself as an android.” A total of 45 songs – including “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Daytripper,” and “Here Comes the Sun” – will be available on the game itself, and players will be able to download entire albums off of XBox Live, starting with Abbey Road.
Microsoft then unveiled a new controlling system it had internally dubbed Project Natal, bringing out Spielberg to (quickly) sing its praises. Think of it as the Nintendo Wii’s motion-sensitive controller, but without the controller: A special camera in front of your TV will recognize your face and match your body’s movements to your character’s movements within the game. “It’s not about reinventing the wheel, it’s about no wheel at all,” said Spielberg, who noted he’d first seen the technology two months ago and is currently developing games for it. As for when regular Joe gamers would get their chance to use this newest toy and how much that toy would run them, Microsoft wouldn’t say, but the company did promise that its attempt to win some of the Wii’s market share would be fully compatible with current XBox 360 systems.
The company also announced several new games, including a new Halo game for fall 2010, and plans to incorporate Facebook and Twitter into XBox Live. (Reporting by John Young)