It’s E3 2014 Time.

It’s that time for the week of the year when people who really like video games watch streams of presentations from the major game publishers and inevitably are disappointed by what happens. There’s always tons of prognostication; I figured I would make a series of completely baseless, outside-of-the-industry predictions about E3 and see how right I am on the other side.

The coverage I am most looking forward to this year is Twitch’s first year of covering the event directly, but I’ll of course be paying attention to various other things. Tomorrow’s the real big day, with most of the press conferences happening then. In the order in which we will see them, here’s what I think is going to happen (or not) this year:

tl;dr Condensed Version

  • Indie games take front and center (whatever “indie” actually means now).
  • Much more talk about games instead of other capabilities of the various platforms.
  • Sony will gloat. A lot. Like, an eye-rolling amount.
  • The Last Guardian doesn’t exist.

Microsoft

As usual, Microsoft gets the lead-off presser, which always means that Sony adjusts things to try and twist any available knife when they go later in the day. MS will have a much better showing than last year, mostly because they are in a losing position right now and have just recently started getting really scrappy.

  • Microsoft won’t show anything Kinect-related on stage. At all. The only thing we’ll hear about Kinect is that it’s no longer required to purchase the system. No goofy living room demos with child actors this time around.
  • App talk will be limited to a quick run through of what’s coming and maybe a look at HBO Go. (They’ve already sucked the wind out of this on purpose. And they’ll remind us that you don’t need Gold for apps anymore.) The only possible exception will be a good amount of time on Twitch integration.
  • Maybe we’ll see some of the TV projects they have been hinting at.
  • Lots of talk about the new Games with Gold offerings.
  • There will be at least one horrible technical problem during the demos.
  • What we will see: Sunset Overdrive (a lot), Call of Duty, Gears of War tease, an Xbox One Halo collection (the previous games), Minecraft, Killer Instinct (S2), Forza Horizon 2, something from Rockstar (even if it’s just a teaser or an HD GTA5 rerelease), a slew of ID@Xbox titles. They’ll remind us that Sony isn’t the only console with indie support.
  • What we won’t see: Halo 5, Quantum Break, anything Crackdown, anything from Rare, anything Fable, any new IP we didn’t already know about.

EA

EA generally has it made; they iterate and don’t introduce too much that’s new. They present well most years and let the demos of the games speak for themselves.

  • EA will introduce at least one new IP we didn’t know about before.
  • We’ll spend some pretty decent time talking about the sports franchises that didn’t make the leap to the current gen last year (e.g., NHL).
  • They will spend an awful lot of time trying to convince us that Battlefield: Hardline is a good idea.
  • They will also spend a weird amount of time with Bioware. It will be awkward.
  • If we don’t see something Mass Effect, it’s time to worry about the health of that franchise.
  • What we will see: Mirror’s Edge demo/date (or I will flip all the tables), Titanfall DLC announcement, Battlefield: Hardline, sports stuff (that’s a gimme), Origin Origin ORIGIN, something Mass Effect (either Bioware Montreal’s project or an HD remake of the trilogy), Dragon Age: Inquisition (perhaps an obscene amount of time on this one), Star Wars Battleground.
  • What we won’t see: anything Simcity, anything Need for Speed, anything Dead Space (I think that franchise is sadly done), anything Star Wars that’s not Battleground (honestly, this could go either way—it’s going to be feast or famine), a woman on stage.

Ubisoft

You will hate this briefing and I will be embarrassed that my children are even awake when it’s going on. I guarantee it.

  • Aisha Tyler will host yet again (this is already known) and will insult both her and our intelligence with the writing of the horrible, horrible jokes in the script.
  • No, really, it will be super-embarrassing to watch. I keep thinking they can’t top themselves and then they do it all over again.
  • Everything will be PlayStation-weighted, because Ubisoft.
  • What we will see: two Assassin’s Creed games (including the first one that’s really next-gen in the form of Unity), something Just Dance, The Division, Far Cry 4, gloating over Watch Dogs’ numbers, something Splinter Cell, a woman on stage.
  • What we won’t see: anything Rainbow Six (Patriots, I’m looking at you), anything Rayman, Beyond Good and Evil 2, decorum.

Sony

Sony’s in the lead and they know it. Expect this press conference to be insufferable.

  • PlayStation Now will be talked about a lot. It will be underwhelming.
  • They will push indie games a lot. It will be impressive and they will yield a non-insignificant amount of time to indie devs on stage.
  • There will be a ton of gloating about sales numbers. And the PlayStation plays games. Lots of games.
  • The Last of Us won’t be the only game that’s getting a PS4 remake.
  • Did I mention that the PlayStation 4 plays games? Because they will.
  • What we will see: at least one new first-party IP, another Destiny demo that is way too long and way too boring, some repeated Ubisoft stuff (likely Assassin’s Creed something), crazy amounts of indie stuff, Driveclub, Project Beast.
  • What we won’t see: anything Gran Turismo, anything Killzone, anything Uncharted, anything from Media Molecule, anything VR-related, The Last Guardian (it doesn’t exist), a woman on stage.

Nintendo

I’m totally at a loss with this one. Nintendo’s really up against a wall, which means they are either going to roll over and do nothing interesting or they are going to do some crazy shit the way only Nintendo can.

Or both.

  • They’ll talk about the NFC tie-in stuff to Smash Bros. and it will be inexplicable. It will take everything that’s a good experience with Skylanders and ignore all that in favor of something ridiculously Nintendo (in a bad way).
  • Tons of time on the Pokemon releases for late this year.
  • Tons of time on Smash Bros.
  • DLC announcement of some kind for Mario Kart 8. It will also be inexplicable.
  • Shigsy will indeed be working on something that is a new IP but it will be completely lame and the internet will explode with all of the people wondering what happened to him.
  • They will spend more time on 3DS than on Wii U.
  • They will say something about the YouTube revenue sharing thing that has been whispered about recently. It will confuse everyone because it will actually make sense.
  • What we will see: Bayonetta 2, Smash Bros. everywhere, Pokemon Ruby/Sapphire, Wii U Zelda (but very little of it), a new Mario game that’s a continuation of an existing series (just a tease), X, Bill Trinen trying to be cool, 45 seconds of Reggie, Iwata doing that weird “direct to you” hand motion, that goofy yarn-style Yoshi game that nobody wants.
  • What we won’t see: anything Metroid, anything Animal Crossing, anything Kirby, anything that reassures us that the Wii U is going to succeed, new hardware, anything new from third parties, a woman on camera.

Well, there you go – this is my completely unscientific guess at what’s coming this week. I’ll come back to this post to grade myself and face up to the embarrassment of my mistakes after the conferences are over. I hope you plan on watching everything; E3 is usually a fairly entertaining train wreck of an event.

If you have any predictions, feel free to leave them in the comments or post your own on your site and link back here. Let me know you’ve done it and I’ll be happy to leave you a link as well.

Enjoy E3 week!

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Watch Dogs

This was the game of the day for me yesterday. The premise is sound and the gameplay looks to be amazing (though it remains to be seen how scripted it will be).

And some early gameplay:

I find it interesting that there’s a bunch of games that intend to play on our fears of digital control and data collection.

The Real Trends of E3

John Davison:

The most pervasive trend was the whole franchise reboot thing. It’s something that came up at the very beginning of this year, but now we know for sure that the games industry is excited about giving its back catalog a Star Trek style reskin. Medal of Honor, Mortal Kombat, Twisted Metal, Lara Croft, Driver, XCOM, Kirby, Kid Icarus, Donkey Kong Country, even Need for Speed Hot Pursuit (in some regards) all plunder the past and reimagine things in a contemporary way, and seem to do so effectively. This is a topic for a future editorial, but it’s possible to look at this in two different ways. On one hand it’s exciting to see brands that we love given a chance to shine in front of a new, younger audience, but on the other you do have to wonder why the whole industry has become so creatively barren that it now has to feed on itself so ravenously.

Great points on the highs (and lows) of the aggregate messaging of this year’s E3. I’m looking forward to a follow-up article on this “reboot” thing that I agree was starkly front-and-center from almost every major player.

(via E3 2010: The Real Trends of E3, News from GamePro.)

Out of Sorts on the Boring Side of the Line

Honestly, I dont even remember which game was being demoed — Medal of Honor? Black Ops? All the shooters I saw at this weeks conferences kind of blurred together for me in a stream of non-stop explosions and guns and “ripped from the headlines” power fantasies… and my rigid E3 schedule and general lack of sleep certainly didnt help. I think it was the former, but I suppose that doesnt matter so much as what I do remember… namely, the sensation that the games industry has forgotten how to communicate by any means other than screaming at the top of its lungs about the awesomeness of lovingly rendered gore.

Read the whole thing. This is an all-too-often unspoken-about problem in games today.

At a time when some stand-out games are finding ways to transcend the previous limits of the medium and tell compelling stories, other developers are creating games that glorify violence to the abandonment of storytelling.

(via Jeremy Parish.)

3D Games Could Be More Expensive

“…As we move through 2011, 2012, it’s likely to be an opportunity both for additional growth and perhaps premium pricing for titles that better support 3D,” Riccitiello added.

Good to know that the video game industry cares about 3D for the same reason the movie industry does: it’s a way to make things more expensive for very little benefit.

(via E32010: 3D Games Could Be More Expensive – EA | Edge Online.)

Let’s Get Ready To Rummmmbllllle (via Penny Arcade)

This E3 has been difficult to observe usefully from afar, because merely watching doesn’t convey the data it used to: so much of the offering is directly experiential. People are waving things, or they’re waving their arms in front of things, or they’re looking at magical screens that shit is popping right out of. It would be like if a person came out and started talking about chocolate, and then ate some chocolate, and then walked off stage. That is not data. There’s so much conjecture that whatever you come up with is almost hopelessly attenuated.

This is very true of what I’ve seen of E3 from here. Motion controllers, insanely expensive 3D setups for your living room, and other insanity are ruling the day.

There will be more posts on this—of course—but hardware aside, the games that are being revealed make me very interested in the next 12 months or so.

As a bonus, the comic from yesterday is quite vulgar but also quite funny, and is a very apt description of what the three major press conferences were like at E3.

(via Penny Arcade – Let’s Get Ready To Rummmmbllllle.)

Rock Band 3 Squier Stratocaster plays both real and virtual guitar… at the same time (via Engadget)

As unfair as it is, what initially gave us hesitation about Mad Catz and Squier’s Stratocaster Pro guitar controller was that, well, it’s Fender’s second-tier brand. Despite these prejudices from our youth, Harmonix pretty much sold us on it with one pretty badass trick: the ability to simultaneously play Rock Band 3 on Pro Expert and rock the same tune through an amplifier.

Watch the video to see it in action. This is a crazy step forward for music video games and could be a downright interesting way to teach people how to play guitar.

(via Rock Band 3 Squier Stratocaster plays both real and virtual guitar… at the same time (video) — Engadget.)