Muses: Hopes for E3 2013

So, rather than spending ages trying to predict this year’s E3 – an act I feel will be completely futile this year – I’ll give just some brief expectations and then go into the things that I’m hoping for… the specifics that would make each presentation a hit for me personally and some additional things I’d love to see reported from the show floor. Without further ado, let’s get right into it.

Microsoft

Microsoft has the first presentation, so I’d like to kick things off by talking about them. For starters, they’ve aired all their dirty laundry. Everything they know will make people hate them has been announced ahead of E3, leaving them the unique position of not having to talk about anything but games. So that’s both what I expect and what I want.

Really, I want to see Microsoft redeem themselves. I would love to see them come out and spend the entire conference talking about nothing but new IPs. Everyone KNOWS there will be a Halo, a Gears of War, a Forza… talk about the things that people don’t know about. And make sure we have GAMEPLAY footage. Stock footage, cinematics, engine demos, etc… these won’t fly. We need to see the games being played. If they announce a game, they’d better have some gameplay footage of it. They can’t afford to take a lax approach this year, this is crunch time.

Another good idea would be to have demos showcasing all of the features they talked about during their initial announcement – the social features, etc – that apply to games… being used in those games. Show someone skyping while they play CoD multiplayer, showcase the ability to share footage using X-Box Live. Show off these aspects. These are features that people ARE curious about… but they just don’t see how they work yet. Give people that, and you’ll have them interested.

Another thing I sincerely hope we hear about is their stance on indy development. If their business model is the same now as it has been during the lifespan of the 360, XBLA will not be a thing for much longer so I sincerely hope they discuss that a bit. Not necessarily with a big announcement, but have someone who is prominent in the independent game world come on stage and talk about how easy it’s been to develop for, how supportive Microsoft has been, and show off their new game.

It isn’t likely, but I can hope… but more than anything, I hope that we’ll get firm release information. A launch lineup, a release date, pricing and financing options. I say options, because the Xbox One will almost certainly be available similar to DCTs and Cell Phones – discounted with a contract. I think it would be a really good move on Microsoft’s part to come out and announce specifically when it will be available, how much it will cost, and what games will be available for it. They, more than anyone, need to give us something positive to talk about… and a release date with a solid price and launch lineup would fit the bill nicely.

Oh… and Microsoft. Stop charging for X-Box live. That’s an archaic approach and announcing that it’s been revised can do nothing but help build that goodwill you want so much to have.

Sony

Sony is currently riding high in people’s eyes and honestly, I think it’s a little unwarranted. They didn’t really tell us much more, but because they spoke so early and because they at least tried to make it sound like they cared about gamers, people are giving them a free pass. As far as expectations… we obviously know that Activision and Square will be there. I would not be at all surprised to see Kojima and Capcom there as well – since they have obvious long-standing ties to Sony. What I’m curious about is whether EA will have much of a presence. We seem to be drawing lines in the sand, with Activision putting themselves behind Sony and EA throwing their lot behind Microsoft. Hopefully this isn’t the case, but if EA doesn’t have much of a presence at Sony’s conference this could become representative of the console lines in the coming years. Sony has to show off the PS4’s hardware, I would guess right at the very start although it could be an interesting note to go out on – showing the hardware, the price, the release date, and launch lineup all right at the end as suspense is beginning to build. The only other thing I think we can expect is that a good portion of the conference will focus on the Vita.

As to what I hope… well for starters, I hope I’m wrong about the last point there. I would dearly love to see them come on stage, open up with a brief mention of the Vita and say ‘today we’re focusing entirely on the Playstation 4, but we do have a wide variety of Vita content on the show floor and there will be some smaller demonstrations that we’ll be holding for press and for viewers at home’. Get it out-of-the-way, but don’t waste time on it. I say waste, not because I don’t love the Vita, but because time is so limited and they really need to wow everyone here. Microsoft won’t be pulling any punches, and Sony has to make sure to bring the attention back to them.

As far as games, I want to see the two vaporware PS3 titles – FF VS XIII(probably renamed for the PS4) and The Last Guardian, both as launch titles. In fact, I want to see them open up with those two. Get people paying attention clear from the start. Then once we’re paying attention, detour away from announcing games to confirm some of the things they hinted at during their initial announcement. After a few minutes of confirming some of those features, move straight back into it with the first party exclusives. Show off the new inFamous, show off a new Uncharted, some more of the new Killzone, etc. Sony’s biggest strongpoint has been those exclusives over the past generation… make sure to give them ample time. Afterwards give the stage to the indy crowd again – reaffirm how much Sony is supporting them. And then give some brief time to Activision, EA, Capcom, Konami, Kojima, and any other big publishers who have titles. And then, to close the show, come out and show off the hardware, the release date, the price, etc. as mentioned above.

Outside of the conference, I want to see them showcasing the Vita in strong form. I love the Vita, and I want to see it have a bit of success. Showcase games, and show it working in conjunction with the Playstation 4. Just don’t do it during your conference. Make a big deal of it ELSEWHERE but leave the conference for what matters most right now: The PS4.

Nintendo

Nintendo has decided not to do a full show this year, opting in stead for the more familiar format they’ve been using: Nintendo Direct. Tuesday morning – when their conference would otherwise have been held – they will be doing a special Nintendo Direct in honour of E3. They’re in an unfortunate position and I can’t really blame them for not wanting to try to compete with Sony and Microsoft this year. Don’t ask me what to expect – I don’t really follow Nintendo all that much anymore. But as to what I would love to see….

Quite simply, a reason to change that practice. I still have that childhood love of Nintendo. They provided me with my first decade(or possibly longer) of gaming, and I miss them. I want them to give me a reason to care about them. I want them to show me games that appeal to me as a gamer. Not games that hinge entirely on a gimmick. Lately they’ve been relying too strongly on gimmicks and not enough on design, and since I haven’t liked their recent gimmicks(motion control, touch screens), it’s hard for me to really care about them. I’m not saying I want them to abandon motion control or touch screens… but just make them less integral to the design and more optional elements that add to the games.

I want them to bring back the love I had for their franchises. Virtually all of my favourite games of all time have been on Nintendo systems, and most of them were made by or in conjunction with Nintendo themselves. Super Metroid, Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario RPG, etc… these are all games that hold a special place in my heart and they’re all franchises that Nintendo has done nothing but butcher lately(to me at least). Metroid first went first person, then went creepy hybrid motion controls; Zelda went into crazy motion control gimmicks; instead of doing another charming JRPG like Super Mario RPG, they went into Paper Mario territory, and then they moved from plumbing to cleaning out Bowser’s digestive system and now having them entering Luigi’s dreams… Okay. Ya. Sounds good.

Nintendo, I hope you’ve taken a look at where you started and what made you popular… so that your show on Tuesday can show us a bit of the charm that made gaming what it is.

Oh, and show off the spiritual successor to Link to the Past for the 3DS. Because that might just be a reason for me to care.

EA and Ubisoft

I’m lumping these two together because I don’t have all that much to say.

For EA, I want to see them shift the focus a bit less towards Shooters, Sports, and Racing this year. Last year they had something like three or four games that didn’t fit one of those 3 categories. This year I hope to see at least a couple more than that. Obviously Shooters, Sports and Racing games make them a ton of money, so they have to showcase them a lot, but there’s more to the gaming world and it’s sad to see such an influential publisher unwilling to push the envelope.

I also sincerely hope they show off a lot of gameplay on the new consoles. And I mean consoles. Obviously they can’t show off the PS4 hardware since they show off their stuff before Sony takes the stage… but they can show people playing the hardware since the controllers are wireless. And I hope we see both Xbox One and PS4 gameplay shown.

Of course, that applies to Ubisoft as well. I want to see them show off footage on both new consoles, and lots of it. What I want to see Ubisoft show off… are new IPs. Ubisoft are some of the most innovative and creative developers out there… and they know how to make games fun. Of course I want to see more of Watch Dogs(and the trailer was recently leaked so we know we will), but I want to see them really stretch their imaginations. Show off some more truly unique new IPs… since we know they’re capable of it.

Final Thoughts

Well there you have it, my hopes and – to a lesser extent – predictions for E3. We won’t have to wait long to find out if the world will let me have my hopes or not… as E3 starts tomorrow.

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