E3 is coming, and hopes to nod more toward its glory days from before the past few years -- and it may just do that.
I'm looking forward to several things, and while there are lot of predictions out there, I'm keeping mine fairly small and fairly me-centric.
And while I'm going to comment on some of the rumors out there, I'm not going to chat up anything I may have knowledge about thanks to my day job -- that would be bad form, and this industry has enough problems with loose lips.
First up and close to home, I'm excited about four titles powered by Gamebryo tech from Emergent Game Technologies that will likely be making a big splash next week. Two will definitely be on the show floor, two are likely, and I'm not going to announce any of them until they make their debut. And we have some long-time and new licensees that will be doing some exciting pitch work at the show, but I won't talk about that, either.
See, I'm starting out as a tease.
Here's the big presser line-up:
- Microsoft conference – 6/1, 10:30 a.m. Pacific
- Electronic Arts conference - 6/1, 2 p.m. Pacific
- Nintendo conference – 6/2, 9 a.m. Pacific
- Sony conference – 6/2, 11 a.m. Pacific
On the big announcements front, I hope Microsoft or Sony do an announcement similar to Microsoft's disruptive Netflix announcement from last year. I hope Sony doesn't just announce they have Netflix, too -- because that would feel me-too(ish), and not as fun. It would take away from Microsoft's differentiation, though, so that would be a smart business move.
There are all sorts of rumors for peripherals or some other announcement from the Big M, which as a consumer I've been expecting for a while. Have you been paying attention to what feels like really liquid pricing on the current 360 camera, including dirt-cheap pick-ups for in-game bundles of it? Noticed the wireless headsets selling for nearly half of its MSP? Etc.
Maybe Microsoft will do something with convergence -- what can they do to leverage the PC, Console, Zune, and windows mobile platform across each other? We've gotten a bit of this with the announcement of Zune HD and the Zune Store being made available to 360 owners. That's good convergence, and the Zune is seriously under-rated. Maybe there's a Windows Mobile 6.5 or Windows Mobile Microsoft - says - it - doesn't - exist - but - get - real version 7 crossover opportunity? Microsoft's exciting challenge there is to not cannibalize any of those platforms (for example, intro'ing an iPhone competitor would hurt both Zune and Windows Mobile)
But really, I'd like to know: Where the #### is Live Anywhere?
Sony needs to do something. I can't get my head around Microsoft doing so well on the media catalogue / media convergence thing against Sony -- They have a freaking extra-dimensional monster closet vault of music and video, so why aren't they doing something with it? Is there some mistaken notion that it will undercut the value-add of the PS3 as a Blu-ray player?
I'd like to hear some big announcements on Sony convergence, and maybe that'll be PS3 / PSP (or rumored PSP Go) or PS3 / Sony Ericsson phone or -- dare I dream -- an announcement for a massive, unified Sony device synergy that is real and awesome. I don't think the "PS3 Slim" will be there, and I don't think it would be wise -- I think it would hurt PS3 sales, and unless they've done power and heat dissipation magicks, I don't think it would be a full-featured PS3, which could cause consumer confusion (and raise gamer ire).
Nintendo is going to be Nintendo, which you can take as you will. They will be innovative, their handhelds and Wii own the commercial consumer non-core space, and the company is still printing money, if a little slower than they were. I hope they surprise everyone with yet another new peripheral. And by surprise, I mean something that makes people say, "Wii remotes and nunchucks and Balance Boards and MotionPlus and Wii Speak, and everything else -- those are cool, but this, this I must have!"
I do expect some game coolness for Nintendo, but think it may come uncharacteristically from 3rd parties (I'm hoping the High Voltage Software Wii FPS The Conduit does as well as that developer and SEGA hope it does).
Despite a ridiculous amount of pre-E3 leakage, Microsoft is uncharacteristically under wraps, so I'm hoping for bigness, because they're talking a big game.
And I honestly am hoping for a bit of competitive rodeo, because Microsoft's presser goes first this year, and if you're Sony or Nintendo, how do you head off the under-wraps Microsoft?
Traditionally (besides having big stuff of your own) you take away the differentiators -- take away Netflix, or something. Maybe do more with Miis on the Wii than Xbox Avatars are doing -- but watch out, because I don't expect Microsoft to keep those still). Better, leapfrog the differentiators by announcing Netflix, and something like an XM exclusivity.
And someone needs to add a social networking component. (In a way that matters.)
Yeah, but it's all about the games, right?
Right! (I'm lying, but the games are cool.)
What am I stoked about?
Besides the Gamebryo titles I hint at above (and genuinely, as I'm off the clock and out of shill mode), here are some of the titles or rumors I'm looking forward to.
Modern Warfare 2. Infinity War is top-notch. The previous game was fantastic, and this one continues on. And despite the reveal in Game Informer Magazine, they claim "big surprises" are still in store for this title. I hope we learn those at E3.
Crackdown 2. I don't think this is on anyone's radar for E3, but a sequel to one of the better games on the 360, after a premium theme randomly popped up for purchase? C'Mon, show me some super-cop love.
Dead Rising 2. Sure, the games not going to be shown, but the US arm of Capcom will likely be in attendance, so maybe it will. I so dug the first game, despite hating the save and escort mechanics. I really thought it was an indicator of what next-gen gaming could be, and it sounds like the sequel -- as long as gameplay is pushed as hard as raw polys -- could build on and explode that legacy. Plus we should all be practicing for the inevitable.
BioShock 2. If you don't know why, you haven't played the former. Go do that then come back and apologize.
Assassin's Creed 2. Sure, it was a bit of a super-polished more intricate period-piece Crackdown, but it was a rocking super-polished more intricate period-piece Crackdown.
New Splinter Cell. Ironically, wetworks dude Sam Fisher has gone dark in the real world, too. Ubi says he's back, so show him to us, and make us uncomfortable. Very.
God of War III. We need next-gen sacrilege on the PS3. It will move consoles.
Halo ODST will be there (it's not E3 without Halo), but I hope there's more excitement about it then announcing an attractive female actress as part of the voice cast. Maybe also give us an update on the Peter Jackson Halo effort (or tell us it's dead, so the mourning can begin).
Capcom could surprise and delight me with a new Marvel vs. Capcom (it's my fantasy, dammit), I wish Epic would update us on what People Can Fly are doing, they may announce Cliff's horror game (though the rumored PS3-exclusivity seems like an ungrateful thumbing at Microsoft for the the Gears and Gears 2 successes).
I still hold out hope that the 3D Realms is doing a masterful Duke Nukem feint, thought that's feeling less and less likely.
Shooters Singularity and Brink have me intrigued, given Raven's and Bethesda's / Splash Damage's pedigree (respectively).
I'm losing interest in Borderlands, and I want them to change my mind. Lost Planet 2 doesn't have to do much pwn me, because while I can't articulate it, the first game pwned me too.
Aliens vs Predator will be there. And it will rock. I listen to my gut on this one (just before it's used as a footstool for a chestburster).
And while the cinematics and roster aren't as big as the previous title, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 will be in my library, so I'm excited for more info that shows me this is doing comic books right again.
Mini Ninjas from Eidos looks cute and fun.
From EA, I don't think Brütal Legend can fail, so I hope it doesn't. Dante's Inferno is interesting, and I want my spiritual successor Dead Space Extraction to do well. Because I'm that kind of dad. Dragon Age: Origins needs to show me gameplay, I'm fanboy nervous about G.I.Joe, and I'm curious about Spore Hero. I go back and forth on The Saboteur.
I'm hoping Painkiller: Resurrection fits my previous guilty pleasure, but it'll probably make me upgrade my PC to do it.
I want A Boy and His Blob and Flip's Twisted World to be good for Majesco and for platformers.
Maybe the last 4 years have been good to Huxley?
Marvel Super Hero Squad may make me buy a personal Wii this fall. Wish they'd hire me for voice work.
I want Valve to wow me. I've got an itch in the back of my brain about a team that is using their tech that had some promising stuff, and it escapes me now. The itch tells me I'm mildly iterested if it's them.
On the more dark-horse(ish) front, BlActivision's been teasing an "all-new" game -- what if it was exclusive to one console? Square-Enix has teed up new games -- exclusives?
What about a 360 MMO?
And I want Heavy Rain to cross the uncanny valley. And build a bridge so others can follow.
And now I'm rambly.
It's going to be noisy, and I am concerned publishers will try to take advantage of the eyeballs to push everything -- not just their top-tier offerings. Think movie tie-ins, other licensed fare, and non-AAA sequels. That may take away from the good stuff, and the sleepers (who can ill-afford it).
I think E3 still suffers from an identity crisis (is it a consumer or industry show?) but maybe this year will help it suss out what it wants to be when it grows up.