// 30 June, 2013

E3 2013 wrap-up

What came out of the show this year?

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AJ By AJ

Some E3 2013 letters.

Dear Sony,

Don’t cock it up.

You won E3 not by introducing anything overly radical or groundbreaking. You won it by maintaining the status quo, one that is firmly entrenched in your customer’s best interests. In turn, it’s in your best interests as well, as a satisfied customer will stick with a brand they trust, not a brand they’re forced to kowtow to.

You’re in a winning position here. So don’t cock it up.

Dear Microsoft,

I have such a massive bone to pick with you.

You ruined Rare. My favourite game development studio of all time, and you reduced them to a smouldering heap of creative starvation. Re-purposing Killer Instinct as a free game, only to reveal that only one character is freely accessible isn’t ‘shaking things up’: it’s panhandling. Though I suppose giving away a full, free game with a console at launch is unheard of-oh wait: the NES and SNES both did it and last time I checked, they turned out fine.

Rare’s not even fully handling the development of this game, as you’ve got them fluffing around on the collective farce that is Kinect. Killer Instinct doesn’t even appear on their website, so I can only assume that Rare’s involvement amounts to "these are the character’s names, and here’s some pictures of them".

Oh, your new console is also borderline draconian in its relationship to consumers, and your outward attempts to quell backlash is some of the most inelegant drivel I’ve seen in a long time. (Update: now, not so draconian!)

But you know, good luck and all.

Dear Nintendo,

In one fell swoop, I went from general disinterest in the Wii U to wanting to buy one during your presentation. That’s generally what Smash Bros. will do to a console. Then again, maybe I’ll see you in 2014, when you actually have some games for the system. I fail to understand how a console that will soon be a year old is entirely lacking in compelling experiences from your vast library of licenses and characters. The long-time Nintendo fan in me is crying bitterly.

You have a long way to go, Nintendo. It’s time to step up your game.

Dear Ubisoft,

You’re in the enviable position of being a large publisher without a legion of pitchfork wielding gamers vying for your blood. Sure, you’ve slipped up, but you tend to make amends for your mistakes, all with a nice coating of French whimsy and quirkiness. Furthermore, you take chances on new IP and experiences, and you’ve somehow managed to bring a genuine surprise to E3 two years in a row.

Do you know what almost completely counteracts that, though? Your inane attempts at pandering to so called ‘gaming culture’, with a presentation that is entirely lacking in grace, humility or professionalism. Do you know what sells games? Games sell games, not a moronic, ‘bro-centric’ image.

The day your E3 presentation doesn’t make me cringe in complete shame will be a joyous one indeed.

Dear EA,

Stop trotting out ‘celebrities’ to sell your products. Just stop. As well as that, if you’re going to show off ‘gameplay footage’ of something like FIFA, how about you show off some actual gameplay footage? In-engine cutscene footage has as much bearing on the final game as the cover art does.

You get a free pass though, because you finally announced Mirror’s Edge 2.

Dear everyone,

Well done on playing E3 totally safe. Who needs bold initiative when the status quo (or worse) will do?

Also, are there any women in this industry who aren’t there to make entirely inappropriate rape jokes towards?

Sincerely,
AJ

Now that E3 is over for 2013, we have a decent idea of what to look out for in the next 6 months.

Logic & Trick By Logic & Trick

E3 came and went again this year, and what did we get out of it? Well, Sony showed off their PS4 hardware, as well as a launch price of $399. Microsoft also revealed a price point of $499 for the Xbox One as well as a redesigned Xbox 360 console. Considering how equal the two machines are otherwise, Sony is currently winning the pricing battle.

But what about games? Microsoft had a couple of interesting games to show off: Metal Gear Solid 5, Battlefield 4, and Titanfall all had some meaty gameplay videos. The problem with these games is that they’re all cross-platform titles. The big exclusive, Halo 5, didn’t get any gameplay, just the one pre-rendered trailer.

Sony didn’t fare much better. Aside from some already announced games like Killzone and Infamous, Sony mostly had cross-platform demos as well. Assassin’s Creed 4, Watch Dogs, Destiny, and Final Fantasy XV were all featured. However, they also featured quite a number of indie games, which puts Sony into the winning spot in my book. It doesn’t help that Microsoft have almost completely shunned indie games on the Xbox One.

As for the others, Ubisoft showed off a new Tom Clancy game, The Division, which looked quite impressive. EA revealed Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, which was really strange. They also revealed Mirror’s Edge 2 with a short teaser. Nintendo showed gameplay videos for new 3D Mario, Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros, just as everybody expected they would.

Out of all of the games with substantial gameplay demos, I would say that Destiny looked like the most interesting game. Battlefield 4 gets a mention for the impressive building collapse during the 64-player demo, and The Division looks to be an impressive massively-multiplayer game for people who are into that sort of thing.

As for the presentations themselves, Microsoft avoided talking about all the sports and TV that we expected, instead focusing on their games. They discussed Xbox live long enough to announce that Microsoft Points are no more, and that the service will be compatible on either console generation. They revealed Halo 5, but didn’t have any other surprise reveals from their in-house studios.

Sony showed off plenty of indie games and I was impressed at how much they seem to be genuinely supporting the indie scene. They didn’t have any surprise announcements from their own studios, but Square Enix did show up and reveal that Final Fantasy Versus XIII is now known as Final Fantasy XV. Sony briefly discussed their cloud/streaming solution, however the details were very light.

Nintendo’s Direct video was very straight forward in comparison. 3D Mario, Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros all got videos, as well as the Wii U port of Zelda: Wind Waker. No mention of a new Zelda or Metroid game, however Donkey Kong did. Monolith’s "X" game had a short gameplay video. Unfortunately, there was no mention of Advance Wars which makes me very sad.

EA and Ubisoft kept it pretty straight forward. EA’s big announcement was Mirror’s Edge 2, and Ubisoft’s was Tom Clancy’s The Division. As expected, Valve didn’t make an appearance and nobody knows what they’re up to.

So who "won" E3 this year? From the corporate perspective, probably Sony due to the lower price point of the PlayStation 4. From the individual game perspective, I would say that Destiny probably impressed the most.

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