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EVENT REPORT

Microsoft's East Coast Xbox Showcase Goes for Comfy Setting

To bring its assortment of games and merchandise to the New York media, Microsoft created a two-day invitation-only showcase that allowed attendees one-on-one time with reps and Xbox products.

Zed Ink also used various screens, dividers, and props—including an igloo-like dome for karaoke game Lips—to separate sections as well as add additional visual elements to the venue.

Photo: Keith Sirchio for BizBash

Last Monday's annual E3 Business and Media Summit in Los Angeles brought out all the big names in computer and video games. And while there was no official New York counterpart to the entertainment software trade show, Microsoft Corporation brought its new Xbox products to Manhattan for a two-day showcase at Splashlight Studios. On Tuesday and Wednesday, invited members of the media played with new games and spoke with Xbox reps during scheduled appointments. Microsoft Xbox's event team—John Ellard, April McKee, and Jen Puzio—hired Zed Ink to produce the event (as well as another incarnation in Los Angeles) with an eye to creating an intimate setting for orientation and interviews and comfortable lounges for game testing.

To ease traffic and give editors enough time with the right game genre, the two-floor studio was divided into three distinct environments. A room on the first floor held three partitioned sections for orientation and interviews. Specifically, this was for attendees to have one-on-one time with company representatives as well as familiarize those not well versed with the video game console. Adjacent to this was a studio just for the hard-core games—including Gears of War 2 and Halo Wars. Upstairs held the more family-oriented titles as well as sports and interactive games.

Dominating the visuals at the event was Xbox's signature green color, with green light flooding the white studios and projections of the circular  Xbox 360 logo on walls throughout. Accenting this, white lounge furniture, mirrored tables, and various props formed separate areas for each game station, with white partitions and dividers creating more formal divisions. Candy, too, was green—from Jelly Belly beans to packs of lime-flavored Now and Later—sitting in dishes all around the venue.

In fact, the only non white-and-green section of the event was the one for Netflix, an area decorated with red props and a large bowl of popcorn. Earlier in the week, Microsoft and the online DVD rental company announced a partnership that will allow Xbox 360 users to stream movies from Netflix to their TVs through the video game console.

Rounding out the two-day showcase was a party on Wednesday evening, which took place at Splashlight. Moving a minimum of the furniture set up for the showcase, Zed Ink opened up some of the studios and added a bar and furniture to the second floor's outdoor terrace. In total, approximately 100 attended the daytime showcase and 150 showed for the evening party.


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