Given that Kinect has proven to be such a popular technology for Microsoft, it’s no surprise that it featured strongly in the Microsoft presentation – and it’s certainly good to see that the next year of Kinect games will involve more than minigame compilations. Shooters, serious sports games… should they play well 2011 and 2012 will be good years for ‘core’ Kinect owners.
The non-gaming applications coming to Xbox 360 look good too – YouTube, live TV and Virtual Disneyland for the kids are all nice-to-haves that further cement the 360 as an entertainment hub, rather than a ‘mere’ games console.
|Is Kinect and a bunch of FPSers really enough for Microsoft?|
But otherwise? Well, the presentation didn’t inspire me to go out and grab an Xbox 360. The focus of the games is still far too narrow – it’s shooters, shooters and more shooters with a dash of casual in between, and when the next Halo game is a mere rework of the original Halo game, it doesn’t inspire me with confidence that Microsoft knows how to handle that franchise sans Bungie.
I get the impression that Microsoft tapped out its R & D budget for the next few years with Kinect. It’s great technology, but it’s not the kind that wows ‘core’ gamers. Throw in the fact that Nintendo and Sony both have seriously impressive new tech on show, and Microsoft appears to have ‘lost’ E3.
The most interesting thing out of the whole presentation is Minecraft with Kinect. That’s the only way you’ll be able to play that very good game in that very different way. It’d probably get tiring, and is probably more of a novelty than a killer Kinect application, but it’s the best selling point that Microsoft and Kinect could walk away with this year.
For casual gamers (who are probably not interested in E3, therefore rendering the presentations redundant), Microsoft looks like it’s going to have that market as its in the next year given Nintendo and Sony have turned their attentions elsewhere. And there are some good looking games for the casual gamers coming to the console, admittedly.
Sony, meanwhile, rocked it’s presentation. The sensation coming away was that Sony has bounced back from its hacking problems stronger than ever.
There’s the PlayStation TV, which, thanks to being able to literally split the screen, means local multiplayer is back, even for FPSers. There’s the Vita – an amazing piece of hardware that redefines how home consoles and portables should ‘talk.’ Being able to seamlessly pick up the Vita for an almost seamless PSN experience, 3G enabled and all, is a massive leg up that is going to see Nintendo struggle to convince people of the continued value of the 3DS.
|The Vita blew my wildest expectations out of the water|
Then there’s the games. Sony continues to invest in having exclusives. Not just FPS exclusives (sorry, Microsoft, but not everyone cares for those), but a broad range of exclusives – RPGs, action games and yes, shooters. While Nintendo still holds the crown for the highest quality exclusives (after all, that is Nintendo’s heritage), the PlayStation consoles have an attractive enough set of exclusives to recommend people buy into.
For me, in terms of games, the biggest product on show was Dust 514, a game from the same team behind the very lucrative EVE Online role playing game.
EVE Online is, of course, the most hardcore of hardcore MMOs. It’s a time sink, it’s a money sink, and having that game on PS3 and Vita is going to be a very long-term investment for a large niche of people.
Throw in the other MMO exclusives, Magic the Gathering Tactics and Free Realms, and suddenly Sony’s managed a first for console gaming – bringing MMOs in a substantial way to the console environment. There’s been attempts in the past with the likes of Phantasy Star Online and Final Fantasy XI, but those were shots in the dark. These are real, and they look like they’re working.
After Sony’s presentation, tomorrow’s show with Project Café is going to have to be unbelievable for Nintendo to be able to upstage Sony.
– Matt S