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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

E3 2014: Nick's expectations for the show

Opinion by Nick H.

It's that time of year again; the industry gets together to show off the big games and technologies that we'll be playing in the year ahead. E3 2014 will no doubt be a big show, but what are the DDNet staff looking forward to?

This week we're running a series of articles looking at what we're anticipating and worried about from E3 this year. Today we've got the thoughts and expectations of Nick, US Editor, to share with you;

Our fearless leader Matt shared his thoughts with everyone earlier as E3 draws ever near, and while I do share a lot of his sentiments, I have several things of particular interest to me this year as well. I will reinforce what Matt's concerns are with a couple of my own - especially the fear that E3 is losing a lot of its steam because publishers feel the need to leak and tease everything as early as possible. Last year we saw some great trailers and gameplay footage but almost no genuine surprises due to constant video game coverage and media 'leaks'. In fact last year there were plenty of pre-E3 announcements and events, just so a couple of publishers could get a foot in the door with consumers and make sure that gamers would tune in when their games were presented.

The other thing I feel similar to Matt about is what, if anything, Nintendo has in store. Last year Nintendo set up demo booths at Best Buy to serve as a digital event to showcase its games in a more intimate setting that is more accessible to a larger number of people than simply showcasing at E3 would allow. It is again using this strategy. This, coupled with a handful of genuine surprises could really help Nintendo garner a bit more favour with their fans. Given the momentum that the popularly received Mario Kart 8 has finally created for the Wii U, I do feel like there is an opportunity for Nintendo to make an impact, despite not getting on the biggest of stages and putting together a grand presentation.

Personally I would love to see more on Fatal Frame for the Wii U than anything else. I know it is not first party, but that would be a key game. I do believe Nintendo has to show off a handful of third party titles for the Wii U now, or it may never happen.

My biggest fear for Nintendo meanwhile is that it will underwhelm this year. A couple of years ago the company abandoned the Wii almost completely on stage, and it left gamers who owned the system feeling like they were left out in the cold. Should Nintendo fail to impress with some quality titles now, that feeling may arise yet again after only a couple of years on the current hardware and could shake the faith of even the most loyal of Nintendo fans.

Speaking of passionate players, I think whatever message Microsoft delivers this year may have to be taken with a grain of salt. On the one hand, I love that is a company that is clearly listening to its fans. Microsoft made some announcements last year and based on feedback, it turned around and corrected them. The same could be said of the recent announcement to sell the Xbox One sans Kinect. There is an obvious strategy at play here, because if the Xbox One is to succeed it needs to be installed in the living room, and sales were not as good as Microsoft had hoped. Still, with so many changes to its vision in such a short period of time, fans have been divided between praising Microsoft's willingness to adapt but also concerned that it doesn't have a firm vision for its hardware.

One of the most interesting PlayStation announcements for me will be about the PlayStation Now. Sony has been running the beta for this and have been keeping the conversations taking place around it fairly close to the vest. This would be an ideal time to reveal some of the lessons learned and hopefully share some of the positive feedback and future direction for this service.

In the end though, I think it will come down to the games. Last year relied so heavily on the hardware to carry the conversation, but that will not be the case this summer. We have had a limited number of titles specifically built for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and even the Wii U. Early on developers have to make titles for both the newest generation of consoles and the last, due to the heavier install base found in the latter's case. However, games designed with both sets of platforms in mind often suffer, and fail to feel like they are really taking full advantage of the new hardware. Will we see more titles with split development like Call of Duty, Battlefield 4 and Assassin's Creed 4, or will we finally see a parade of titles specifically designed for these new consoles - like Infamous: Second Son?

If publishers and developers want to see higher adoption for the new consoles, like Ubisoft has been asking for for years now, they need to commit to them if they expect gamers to commit to them as well.

- Nick H
US Editor
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Reach me by email at: nickh@digitallydownloaded.net

E3 2014: Nick's expectations for the show
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