UPDATE: Watching the Twitch E3 preview with @DJwheat and gang. In just a few minutes, Microsoft is doing their Day 0 press conference. There’s a lot of wishing and hoping for Fallout 4 (and a new Gears Of War). That sounds AWESOME to me but I won’t hold my breath, simply because Bethesda has already shot down that notion and they’ll want to let Elder Scrolls Online marinate a while first. The next Fallout won’t be for at least another year or two. What do you guys, think?
In the past week, everyone has been asking me if I am excited about E3. I don’t know how to answer without sounding like a bitter old man or being a wet towel.. Truth is: I’ve barely given E3 much thought. Everything I want from gaming is here and now so it was not a big deal to me.. Then, during HorsePLAY! LIVE EP25, TCollins89 asked why E3 is on weekdays. It got me thinking:
E3 is not for the everyday or common gamer. So what is it really about and does it really matter?
DISCLAIMER: What you are about to read is an editorial. This, like anything else on Geeky Antics, is the opinion of me, the author. I may ruffle some feathers but I am being honest and open here. Keep an open mind. I am not trying to belittle anyone. We can disagree peacefully!
As far as I’m concerned, E3 is a glorified trade show meant to hype up gamers who, somehow, can’t get enough content or want more fuel for the console wars. It is geared towards marketers, suits, developers, and journalists. Think about this:
How many of the presenters actually PLAY games? Are they gamers first or marketing/business people first? I reckon the latter is often the case.
For most, E3 is just an excuse for a change of scenery or time off from work. I would venture to say the only way you are looking forward to E3 is if you want the social experience or are super hardcore about gaming (i.e. you have to play every single major game that is released). This is wishful thinking but I think I’d care more about console gaming again if the entry points were more appealing, at least for the software itself.
That may sound harsh but I think I have finally converted back to PC for good. There are countless reasons but, for me, it’s simply because all my friends are sharded amongst different games and the PC offers too much bang for your buck to even consider dedicated console gaming. I can’t justify the cost or budget the time for a console right now. As a family man, it does not help that my kids are growing up and playing games with daddy is no longer cool. Without the bonding experience, console gaming is ho-hum. I just don’t have the time or interest to do single-player games.
I love my XBox 360 but, for the first time in around ten years, I have let my XBox LIVE subscription lapse for more than two months. My video game wall of shame beckons yet I do not feel compelled to fire her up. I am satisfied by my options on the PC and I don’t have to worry about the hidden costs or suddenly finding that online support has been shut down.
Granted, I have been mostly playing Hearthstone, League of Legends, and SolForge lately but I have a library of games on the PC that excites me every time I look at it. With my consoles, I have mostly felt depression and regret for the past generation or so. I will eventually get an XBox One to play with friends but I do not feel left out of the water cooler conversations.
Now, I can already hear people saying that E3 is about electronic entertainment (hence the name E3 – Electronic Entertainment Expo) as a whole. That is true but it can’t be denied that the expo focuses on the gaming consoles more than anything. With that in mind, consider this fact:
During the transitionary period between console generations, we can’t expect fresh, innovative games. The developers will stick to the console with the greater install base until they figure out how to take advantage of the new framework.
I have nothing against Watch Dogs or Titanfall. I just don’t think they are system sellers for me. They are the games that are good now because there is nothing else. Besides, after how Microsoft botched up the original XBox to 360 transition, I think they will play it smart and keep the 360 going for another two to three years.
I am no elitist but the future of gaming has been on mobile devices and the PC.. For a while now. $300-500 gets you solid upgrades for your PC and you’re good for a while. With consoles, you have the hidden costs of accessories, DLCs, micro transactions, macro transactions, forced annual releases, preferred server access, season passes, etc. Yeah, I am a smidge jaded and cynical.. But I am also hopeful, especially with so many brilliant small studios and indie developers paving the way (THANK YOU)!
Chip Cella a.k.a. CaptinChaos from The B-Team Podcast has said that this is going to be the last console generation. That may be so but, regardless, I can’t help but feel that the last console that really excited me was the XBox 360. I miss my friends but I am satisfied and excited by the PC. Chip and I both feel this “next gen” came too soon as the PS3 and XBox 360 are only now just peaking in terms of what has been executed on the consoles.
…but I digress…
I do have some predictions about E3 2014. First, Nintendo will likely not have much to show and it wouldn’t shock me if they were a no-show like they were during PAX East. Nintendo doesn’t really have to fire up the hype machine because they do not compete directly with Sony and Microsoft. Furthermore, they don’t really rely on third party support. Nintendo fans are loyal so, even with their silly business moves, they will keep thriving. They also have handheld systems to fall back on. I have a feeling Nintendo is going to announce multi-platform releases, too.
Perhaps Nintendo will create the new Portstation (watch out, Sony) and whore out their properties?
Next, there will be more pointless virtual reality demonstrations (hello, Oculus and Project Morpheus). This excites me about as much as the Virtual Boy did well over a decade ago (HINT: very little). There are so many ways to innovate beyond technology but we are still seeing more gimmicks. What about enhancing the gameplay experiences and the scope of them?
BEWARE: There will be more talk about frame rates and resolutions.. How “exciting”!
The battles of the pees further reinforces my point that tech wars are pointless. They are the equivalent of penis size comparisons. These are topics people engage in to pander or satiate their own insecurities, egos, and obsessions. Gaming consoles will always be behind computers so why are they focusing on this? It isn’t 1993 anymore, guys. I know I am alone in this sentiment but I could care less about 4K, additional chest hairs, and realistic beads of sweat.
Last but not least, Microsoft has some big news coming – and you’re invite! What could it be? Phil Spencer has already said that the XBox One price drop and XBox LIVE adjustments (don’t forget to get your refunds before July 2014) had to be gotten out of the way. They did not want those things overshadowing the real news.
So what *DOES* Microsoft have up their sleeves?
Following the trends out there, I reckon it is some new IP or franchise. Perhaps an exclusive MMO? That would not do it for me but I am sure that would get tons of people excited. Defiance was a fun game and a nice preview of what MMOs could be on the consoles so there is certainly something there. Besides, where did Champions Online go??
I am sure the XBox Originals will be showed off more. That’s fine and dandy but what about the games? If they’re going to play up the all-in-one entertainment stuff, they need to work on the Twitch integration, instant highlights, PC interoperability, and social media functionality. I am probably in the minority but, if gaming consoles became more social and perhaps cross-platform, that would excite me. I would also say Microsoft should make their platform more open. Sony has limited the formats of content they support so the opportunity is ripe. An open XBox One would destroy a propreitary PS4. Just a little “pro tip” there, Microsoft.
The anti-XBox fanboys are hoping Microsoft will apologize for the Kinect. I still think Kinect has potential. The tech is fantastic and is even used in robotics engineering applications. They just hyped it up too much and shot their loads too soon.
I have a feeling Sony fanboys will be eating their hats very soon. The potshots have been bountiful but Microsoft has deeper pockets and a better online infrastructure. That said, maybe we’ll see some truly-enticing glimpses into Destiny and Sunset Overdrive. I’m sure a new Gears Of War or Fable will be in the pipelines. Who knows! I’d love to see some fresh new XBox properties.
Of course, everyone is “worried” that Microsoft will humiliate themselves again at E3. They go first once again so Sony could take some potshots at them. Should Microsoft play it safe? Nah. They don’t have to. They can make multi-billion-dollar mistakes and still turn around. Sony, however, is barely staying afloat. Will the Playstation brand be enough to keep them relevant? Think about THAT a bit, Sony fanboys.
The biggest news that would blow me away for any console would be the announcement that they are now modular. Imagine upgradable gaming consoles. That would be brilliant. The money is in the software anyway so this would be a win-win-win proposition. I also think Microsoft needs to do a more aggressive overhaul of their marketplace. Perhaps something like Steam or Humble Bundle does. This would re-unite an otherwise sharded community. Games With Gold on XBox One and 360 is a good start, though.
I would love to see smarter AI, deep co-op play, bigger servers/worlds, etc. There are so many opportunities beyond slightly-improved graphics and performance. I think we are well beyond the battles of marginally better and tech wars. What about games that are fun, highly replayable, memorable, and unique?
Rare seems to making some moves again. Will there be a new Battletoads?? Now THAT excites me! Let’s just pause to think about all the properties and franchises that have been left to rot. Such a shame. Battletoads would be awesome. The co-op fun, Nintendo-hard challenge, killer humor, crazy combos.. OMG – imagine a TMNT crossover? Hey, I actually liked the Battletoads Double Dragon game – hush your lips!
…And now for a song that puts me in a good mood. ^_^
What do you think about E3 and the state of the gaming industry? Are you excited or is it just business as usual?