There is not an event in existence with the
meaning of Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. Even if the Electronic
Software Association has been unwinding some of the previous life that was
associated with the gaming extravaganza by pulling away some of the
extravagance that once populated the event, it is still the source of plenty of
Also the source of the biggest press conferences
of the year by the big three companies, Sony Americas CEO Jack Tretten said
during Sonys press conference that it takes years off of his life to prepare
the presentation. I can believe it. Most companies take months of ardent
preparation and late nights to get that hour to two-hour press conference
With that said, this years E3 may have been a bit
of a letdown. In years past there were more surprises, more elegance and more
speculation. This year may have seemed like an end of an era.
Is this the fault of the hardware developers, the
ESA or the software companies? Perhaps all three may share the blame, but even
so, there is still plenty to talk about.
Hardware Press Conferences
The hardware companies presentations may have had
less lackluster presentations in previous years. Perhaps this was signaled by
the shift in power positions, with Microsofts Peter Moore moving to EA Sports
and Sonys Phil Harrison moving to Infrogrames. With that said, I still have to
give the winner of the hardware press conferences to the not-so-jolly green
Here is the breakdown:
Focus: Software/online interaction
Surprise: Final Fantasy XIII
The truth of the matter
is although this may have been the best of the conference, its not saying
much. Its highlight happened to be the bombshell that SquareEnix once Sony-exclusive
title Final Fantasy XIII was going to
be appearing on the Xbox 360. However, this move isnt a total surprise, as
Square had announced that they were going to start publishing for the platform
earlier this year.
Another focus was the
new online service redesign. The main highlight of this move will be the
addition of avatars, allowing people to chat and interact between each other.
It mostly seems like a mix of Home
and Nintendos Miis. Nothing truly ground shaking, but Gears of War 2 looked great, Rock
Band 2 is a timed exclusive, and RE 5
got a release date. In past years this may be
construed as middle of the pack, which may say more of their competitors than
Focus: Software/online interaction
Surprise: Ratchet And Clank:
Quest for booty
Being the last major press conference of the
Summit, one could see the air of confidence in Jack Trettons eyes. It is a shame
that the information behind it just couldnt capitalize upon the opportunity
that Sony had. Their focus on the Playstation Network was apparent, as the
unveiling of the new Video Service, which is now available, and the titles
being made available network wide over the next year, highlighted by the Ratchet and Clank Quest for Booty should
make cheap gamers happy. However, with no real news on home leaves the services
ability to overtake Xbox Live questionable at best.
Starting off the conference with playable Resistance 2 and LittleBigPlanet was exciting to say the least. Both games looked
like they could provide hours of entertainment. However, the rest of the
presentation was as meager, as the aforementioned gamers were exciting. The PSP
lineup looked paltry at best, even with the great Ratchet: Size Matters Pack being set up for a holiday release. God of War 3 looks great, but not much
information was given. MAG although
on paper seems like a great idea, seems like a game that most likely will see
the delay block to a holiday release in 09, so judgment will be reserved until
more information drops.
Focus: Casual gaming
Surprise: Wii Music
Nintendo is the longest running company and the
market leader at this point. So what do they decide to do? The same thing they
have been doing lately, which led to their ability to hold the market share.
They cater to the casual.
Hardcore fans will probably be mad at this, but in
the eyes of most mainstream media outlets, Nintendo won again. Wii Music, the upgrade to Wiimote with
extra motion capabilities, Shaun White
Snowboarding giving the Balance Board more burn, and an actual Lightsaber
game should only boost sales for the console.
Not to mention the DS now getting an exclusive Grand Theft Auto game, along with a Guitar Hero title should also help the
handheld leader hold position. For the hardcore, this conference may make them
want to sell their Wii, but also, because of this conference they should find
plenty of buyers around holiday time.
Software Press Conferences
This generation may be the generation that will be
remembered for more third party titles than first. With software companies like
Ubisoft, Electronic Arts and Activision – softwares big three – having great
titles to display. With such quality on display, I have to give the nod to
Company: Electronic Arts
Focus: New intellectual properties
Peter Moores impact at EA Sports
EA, a company I have hated in the past for their
love affair with the fast buck of licensed games, have seemed to separate
themselves from that and are bringing many new IPs to the forefront. The best
seem to be the First Person Shooter title Mirrors
Edge. As reported in previous Peep Games, I have a strong affinity with
this titles avant-garde approach to the first person action game. Spore, Will Wrights apparent
masterpiece of genetic development was on display. Left 4 Dead and John Carmacks new IP Rage also got time, giving PC gamers something to smile about.
A huge surprise to me is Peter Moores impact
after only one year at EA sports. He has seemed to breathe new life into the NBA Live franchise with the Basketball
DNA system. This allows your team to grow together, and develop over a season
more organically. If Live can fix
some of the mechanics and add this effectively to the scheme of things, Live just may find itself in the
PGA Tour Play 09 All-Play was shaping up nicely as well, looking extremely
solid for a Wii title. Quite simply, EA aint playin.
Focus: Covering all platforms/genres
Surprise: I Am Alive
Ubisoft is definitely a major player in the game.
The France-based company has had success over all platforms, and the next year
seems to be a continuation of this. Citing domination in all markets, this is a
company that has the upcoming Tom
Clancys Endwar, Rayman Raving Rabbits TV Party, Shaun White
Snowboarding, and the continuation of the Petz series for the DS. Talk about all encompassing.
The highlight of their presentation happened to be
the all new FarCry 2, another PC
breaking experience in the making. However, if youre able to afford the
supercomputer it looks like it needs to be run on, you may have a great
experience on your hands. Prince of Persia
looks like an excellent cel-shaded adventure. I Am Alive, a new IP, looks to be a survival game to the extreme.
Not a shabby show by any means from the French publisher.
Focus: License Games/ Sequels
Surprise: Call of Duty 5
License games and sequels dont have to suck, just
normally the ones made by EA (some of my hate still remains). However,
Activision, fresh off the merging with PC titan Blizzard, came to provide a
great show for gamers. Guitar Hero World
Tour looks insane, with the ability to create your own songs and do album
covers; its a wonder to see just how much the creative can accomplish. Rock Band instruments are compatible for
that extra great feeling of not buying that whole set over again.
James Bonds latest Quantum of Solace game will cover both the latest Bond flick with
Casino Royale. Looks exciting, as the title uses Call of Duty 4: Modern Combats engine, which should satisfy those
who need their Call of Duty 4 fix. Call of Duty looks like it may be a good
game, against all of my previous assumptions. Keifer Sutherland aka Jack Bauer
will be a voice in the game, it features online and offline co-op (one of my
only problems with Call of Duty 4: Modern
Combat) and will keep score.
Superhero games are in, as Wolverine, Spiderman: Web of
Shadows, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance
2:Fusion all look pretty solid. They didnt even feature Blizzards two
megatons of Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3. Second only to EAs show,
Activision looks like a company with plenty of upside.
All in all, this year will mostly be known as the
year of the software. AN oddity of third party multiplatform software being the
major buys of the season. Mario, Link, Samus, Snake, Master Chief and some more
of your favorite first party characters didnt make an appearance, and to be
real, the hardware companies shows were dwarfed by their software
counterparts. Even so, it was still a show that gave a lot of information and
excitement for gamers.
To see some of the new trailers that were unveiled at E3, go to www.e3expo.comCatch up on more gaming news and discussion with Adam Thomas and the crew at www.forum.thegamerstudio.com