Since KSR was announced around this time last year, we’ve had Rare reps out promoting the game across the world from its Gamescom debut in Cologne to the Tokyo Game Show, Eurogamer Expo in London, Paris Games Week and of course Comic-Con in San Diego only a few weeks back.
One place we hadn’t really covered was Asia, but now with the market opening up and the Xbox One about to launch there with KSR and a clutch of other games among the advance guard, ChinaJoy 2014 presented itself as the perfect time and place. This time around we sent Pete and Nick from Rare to do the on-stage honours. Here’s Pete with a rundown of how it went!
Arrival! Nick and I got to the hotel on Monday morning, freshened up from around 18 hours of travelling and decided to go for a walk around Pudong district to get the lay of the land. Our hotel was close to Century Park so we began our journey there and ended up at the Shanghai Tower and World Financial Center.
We popped into a shopping mall to take a look around and were surprised to find a lot of influential Western shops and brands. On the way back we took the scenic route, walking along the Huangpu River while the sun began to set.
On Tuesday we ventured out to the Microsoft offices in Shanghai where we met up with several other Microsoft representatives participating in ChinaJoy. We had lunch at the Shanghai Min, where our host ordered several local dishes including jellyfish and others probably best not to mention!
During the afternoon we toured the local tech shops and grey markets where you could purchase imported electronic goods. Later we went over to the convention centre to help with setup, finding the team hard at work putting the finishing touches to the Xbox booth. The Shanghai New Expo Centre is absolutely massive.
The Xbox booth was finalised during Wednesday afternoon and the Kinect Stage was completed in the early evening, ready for each of the teams to conduct rehearsals.
Nick and I split up in the evening so that Nick could present KSR at the media presentation evening where the release of the console was announced. News also broke that a premium day one Xbox One console pack will be available in China on September 23rd, containing the console, Kinect sensor, Day 1 Achievement and several games including Kinect Sports Rivals.
I met up with our emcees, Peko and Viola, to discuss the format of the Kinect Sports Rivals demonstration and go through a few warm-up sessions. We had two shows for KSR, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Nick joined us once the media presentation had wrapped up and went through a few finer points of our presentation until 11pm.
Each day we entered the show at 8am, and even at that time the crowds waiting to get in were phenomenal. Saturday was the busiest day – it’s estimated that 90,000 visited on that day alone, and you could hardly move around the show floor.
It’s no exaggeration to say that Kinect Sports Rivals stood out with huge numbers of people wanting to see more of the game, the audience increasing in size each day. In both of our daily presentations we demonstrated the Champion scanning tech followed by Wake Racing, and the crowd were blown away by both demos. As we prepared the stage and showed our title screen, people would start gathering in anticipation. They were fascinated by the Champion tech, cheering every time Nick went through the scan and his Champion was revealed, and again as he sped around Harbor Trail showing some of the more intricate Wake Racing techniques.
We also had quite a few unexpected things happen while we were out there, but being hit by a typhoon has to top the list! Torrential rain and gale force winds came tearing through Shanghai for a couple of days, but even that didn’t dissuade consumers from coming to the show.
Overall, ChinaJoy was huge. We have never seen any game event quite so big. More than 3000 titles were on display and around 250,000 people came to visit the expo over the four days. The atmosphere was frenetic with immeasurable amounts of energy on display from both the guests and the companies showing their products.
Looking at the popularity of the Xbox One console and the games on display during ChinaJoy I see a bright future: the market is vast and consumers were incredibly excited about Xbox One. The booth was packed with people every day truly hyped about what was on show, and the pre-order numbers during the show were amazingly positive. When we launch it’ll be great to see Chinese developers working on the platform and creating spectacular new experiences.
After months of intense competition, the Kinect Sports Rivals World Championship concluded with all the drama and spectacle you’d expect from a live public finale at Comic-Con. Organised by Microsoft and supported by Rare, the Championship offered some exceptional prizes for digital athletes who could prove themselves the best in the world, both in the qualification stages and on a physical stage in front of a buzzing Saturday night Comic-Con audience.
Adam and Darren were Rare’s men on the ground, helping out the Xbox team, spending time with the 11 finalists (from eight different countries) and live tweeting from the Championship showdown. Now that it’s all over, here’s Adam with a first-hand perspective on the whole thing!
Comic-Con is massive. And by massive we mean a heaving great spectacle of popular culture plastered across San Diego for four sweltering days. Regardless of your interests, there will be something here to sate your appetite. Ranging from the most niche comic books through to Hollywood’s billion-dollar franchises, Comic-Con serves to remove any fandom battle lines and unite the attendees in a celebration of their beloved IPs.
As ever, Xbox had a huge presence at the show – painting the town green with a stand in the main convention centre and the dedicated Xbox Lounge at the adjacent Hyatt Manchester hotel. Given the scale of Comic-Con, it seemed only fitting that Kinect Sports Rivals should go big and match the event’s epic scale by hosting our World Championship final in front of the cosplay hordes.
Having arrived in San Diego late on Tuesday night, we headed down to the Xbox Lounge early on Wednesday morning to ensure the Kinect Sports Rivals booth was up and running for the event’s opening on Thursday. Having made a textbook British error of walking from the hotel to the Lounge, we arrived with a crispy pink hue and found ourselves sporting a gorgeous shade of sunburn for the remainder of the event. It did however complement our Xbox branded T-shirts perfectly. Swings and roundabouts.
Stationed next to Dance Central, we had everything up and running by late afternoon and following a quick pit stop at the hotel we were back in the evening for final preparations ahead of the public opening. Thanks to our Marketing team, we were given passes to attend the Comic-Con preview evening in the main convention centre and rapidly found ourselves submerged in a sea of cosplay, jumbotrons, giveaways galore and more film props than you could wave a sonic screwdriver at.
Last week saw Kinect Sports Rivals get a little continental with a trip to Paris Games Week. Attendees had the chance to trial Kinect Sports Rivals Preseason, which goes live alongside the Xbox One launch later in November. Producers and EG Expo veterans Mike and Adam were once again our men on the scene, and once again Mike brought us back some lovely words…
At the very end of October, the Kinect Sports Rivals promotional bandwagon rolled into Paris with Rare’s very own Ant and Dec (supposedly I’m Ant) sent over to entertain the crowds and give away five more opportunities to become a Champion at launch.
We arrived on Tuesday. With VIPs and press getting early access to the pre-Paris Games Week party, we set up two kits with the just-announced Preseason build ready for an evening of games and responsible drinking. The constant queue kept us busy until midnight.
Wednesday at 9am, the doors to Paris Games Week literally swung open. With a total of four kits to keep the masses entertained, we needed help. In stepped the boundless enthusiasm of our Xbox demo crew who handled all the non-English speaking gamers, which turned out to be the vast majority of attendees.