Five things I want, five things I don’t for each!
So, we’re a weekend away from E3 2013.
And what an E3 it’s shaping up to be! Sony and Microsoft have their new consoles and next-generational experiences to promote for their release at the end of the year, whilst Nintendo have their own special little Nintendo Direct on Tuesday. Next week is going to really set the cat amongst the pigeons, as it were, and hopefully we’ll get to see some seriously good gaming content along the way as well as get more of an idea where Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are heading from here-on out.
But what am I expecting from The Big Three… well… let’s get down to some wild speculation, shall we?
SONY : FIVE THINGS I WANT TO SEE AT E3 2013
5. PlayStation Resurrection.
For everything Sony have done right recently – it has been often at the expense of content that many of us bought into in the past. We’re talking games such as Alundra, MediEvil, PaRappa the Rapper and Wipeout amongst others, and considering the fond memories and success of selling many of these games via its PlayStation Store, it’s time Sony cut to the chase and brought one or two back from the dead. My personal want in this is a brand new Primal game. I didn’t like it much on release, but it has grown over the years into one of the PS2 era’s most coveted titles and it is with the benefit of hindsight that we can all say, “You know what? I wish we’d said this was awesome when it was new, because it so is and we were wrong to knock it!” A new Primal would be awesome. Although I could very much live with a simple HD remake.
4. Reasons to own a Vita…
The PS Vita is a lovely piece of kit but Sony are pathologically averse to getting their hands on the handheld market in any serious way, which has ensured that its rival in the space Nintendo could break free from its competition and run a million miles ahead. No, the Vita isn’t going to catch up to the Nintendo 3DS anymore. That ship has sailed. However, that doesn’t mean that they cannot at least pull themselves together and actually focus on some seriously awesome material for it. A new Arc the Lad would be an absolute no-brainer on the Vita, without question. Old ports of PS1 and PS2 games are not a reason to own a Vita. Nor are shoddy versions of console games. It’s a handheld machine. Make games designed to utilise the portable nature of it. This is not rocket science!
3. Back-pedalling on Backwards Compatibility…
Sony kicked off the Backwards Compatibility idea because, ironically, it made the shift into a new generation much easier and it ensured people wouldn’t get too stung during the lean first year or so of a new machines release. Whilst it may be a little late to see this implemented for PS3 discs, the most important thing Sony can do is ensure it’s Gaikai and PSN fronts honour the purchases made from the PS3 stores over the years. This means people will be able to play some of the games coming for the PS3 well into the lean first year of the PS4, and if the option isn’t provided, then Sony shouldn’t expect to see sky-high sales of its new console in the first year as a result. People will stick with what they have until given a reason to upgrade, and Sony needs to give more of a reason than ‘Shiny New Console’.
2. The PlayStation 4 – No DRM. Seriously.
Sony have been deliberately coy about its future DRM and used game policies, but as it transpires that even some publishers won’t see a dime from the used game charges that the XBox One will implement, the most clever marketing tactic Sony can employ at E3 is a “No DRM!” Policy. The cheers from the press and the people at home would easily drown out any potential bad news, and cement the PlayStation 4 as the next-gen console de jour. It’s one of the simplest and most effective things Sony could grasp onto to give itself far more market leverage. EA may not like it, but it would likely end up with Sony dominating the sales scene, and that is a situation no publisher would dare turn away from. None with any common sense, at least…
1. The Last Guardian. For the love of all that is sacred and holy…
It’s been a very long time coming, The Last Guardian, so much so that it almost feels like it may never arrive at all. But this will be the final game from the studio who gave us the wonderful Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, and that’s enough reason for people to cling on so desperately for this more than anything else at Sony’s E3 conference. We’ve heard promises, news of layoffs and internal disagreements. We’ve seen trailers and screenshots and promised release dates and timetables have come and gone. More than anything Sony has in its back pocket, for many gamers this is the one game that seems to be the magical Holy Grail, and if Sony do still have plans to release it on the PS3, I suspect this is the very last E3 it will get away with showing it…
SONY : FIVE THINGS I DON’T WANT TO SEE AT E3 2013
Wonderbook was clearly a massive mistake right from the very concept. It didn’t even work properly at last years E3, a point when you need your new gimmicks to shine, and it was limited to one game. Not to mention that at a conference that is watched by tens of thousands of very hardened gamers, it was a device not expressly or explicitly aimed at them. There will be a future for this broken piece of kit, no doubt about the fact that Sony will try and do its best to polish this particular turd, but if it has any actual business sense this is something that needs to sink without trace and never reappear at E3. No-one who watches E3 gives a toss about it. Not even the press could get excited about it last year. Let it go.
4. The PS Move/Vita Connect.
Tied at the hip for the same reasons really, the PS Move and the whole idea of the Vita as a PS4 controller would take Sony right back in the firing line of Nintendo, and if there is one company Sony should have learned you don’t want to be compared to, it is Nintendo. Sure, the PS Move was a sound idea but it was never done with any heart or passion, and always felt cynical and overlooked even in games where the control scheme would have worked a treat. The Vita Connect concept sounds more like a good plan too, until you factor in some would end up having to buy both a Vita and a PlayStation 4 to make use of these games. That will be almost four times the price of a Wii U when it happens, and like the PS Move, “Like Nintendo, only much more expensive!” isn’t a sound marketing slogan…
3. David Cage
This feels almost too easy. Never mind shooting fish in a barrel, this is tossing a frag grenade in a bucket of Koi Carp. David Cage may indeed be a visionary designer and engineer, he may have the passion to do things and the drive to interject more emotion into games, but when he gets on stage to talk about emotion – he lacks any emotion of his own. He is one of those people who gets on stage and starts talking and you immediately feel like you want to go to sleep, or decide this may be as good a time as any to go to the loo or make a cup of tea or make love to your significant other. He is a personality black hole, an individual who has the stage presence of a block of concrete and Sony need to keep him behind closed doors, and simply show off his work – not the man himself.
2. Fiscal Studies. It wasn’t interesting at A-Level…
Sony love to talk business. It’s a convenient and easy way to pad out the conference a little, and allows some egotistical Sony executives in a variety of dull suits and with a variety of half-dead expressions to come on stage and talk about the road ahead and the Sony Family. And this is fine, but Nintendo are doing that this year separate from their main Direct presentation. I personally would sit through an hour of Sony talking business because hey, that stuff interests me as a writer. But it doesn’t interest me as a gamer, and it won’t make any difference to anyone who is watching their E3 presentation. Sony Executives may as well take their clothes off on stage and do a short rendition of The Macarena for all we care. At least it would be more memorable…
1. $599.99 – even if it’s unavoidable.
This is kind of the big one for most of us. The large question hanging over the next generation is one of cost, and if Sony were to repeat the mistake of pricing it at $599.99 – even if it’s completely unavoidable – then the guy delivering the news on stage may as well walk out in a strait-jacket. At a time when the Wii U is now in the UK at least sub-£200, the idea of this repeating the PS3’s mistake of launching at nearly £500 would be simply bonkers and seriously cast long-term doubts over the sales potential of the machine. Admittedly, the Wii U is now cheaper than a 500GB PS3 in the UK, but this only serves to highlight the vast disparity of Sony’s pricing issues. Sony need to get the costings done properly, because if it has blown a fortune on the PS4’s innards, recouping it at that price may be an insurmountable challenge…
MICROSOFT: FIVE THINGS I WANT TO SEE AT E3 2013
5. Apologise for that AWFUL XBox One Reveal Show!
The first thing Microsoft can do right off the bat is stand there, in front of the audience, take a deep breath and say the following words. “Greetings. We realise some of you watched the XBox One reveal a few weeks ago. We heard you loud and clear, and you were right. Revealing a games console and then spending an hour talking about Interactive TV and voice commands for the new Kinect was a waste of your time. We should have made more effort to appeal to the market for whom the conference held the most interest – our current customers and the learned media who thought they had come to report on a new games console. We are deeply sorry, which is why our E3 show is entirely dedicated to games, gaming and our plans for games in the future.”
4. XBox Live – CHEAPER!
The thing here is, XBox Live used to feel like a necessary evil keeping the 360 afloat in leaner times, but then Microsoft had the massive brainwave of advertising on the dashboard! And then Sony had an even brighter idea of making a cheaper subscription model that actively gave away games to its customers because hey, why not give people free games every month eh? The end result is that no-one believes that XBox Live, in its current form, it worth the cost. Make it cheaper, or give customers a better reason to want to subscribe to the service. XBox Live is going to be a hugely important part of the new cloud-based networking thing for the machine and people want to feel it’s worth the cost, especially when they’ve blown money on the machine at launch in the first place!
3. Killer Instinct.
I suspect this is a complete no-brainer. We are told Rare will be on stage. Microsoft and Rare have just won the fight to get the Killer Instinct trademark back from Nintendo by way of a challenge from the FOX Network (over a one-season show no-one remembers called Killer Instinct!). We know this because it was a big deal for Rare, who had been expressing their desire to get this trademark back for years. Therefore, I suspect and expect to see Killer Instinct on show. No Banjo Kazooie, no Perfect Dark Minus One, just Killer Instinct. Which is good, because out of any of the games in Rare’s stables, this is the one most people have been crying out for the past fifteen years or so, so yeah, let’s see it. And make it awesome!
It’s easy to forget that the XBox 360 has had some stonkingly good JRPG’s, and to fans of the genre there is no better demonstration of the early days when Microsoft wanted gamers to like it than the sublime Lost Odyssey. A sequel, or a JRPG in a similar vein, would from the off send out a strong signal to an audience that has had to console itself in recent years with Wii releases (nothing wrong with the Wii, mind you) that Microsoft absolutely, positively wants you to come and join in the fun. Microsoft themselves chipped in with helping on games like Infinite Undiscovery and Blue Dragon, so it has form, and a push for JRPG’s may not win over the Japanese audience, but it certainly won’t hurt their chances of getting sales there either.
This is kind of the summation one really. A games console without a selection of games is one of those pointless object comparisons, and at the XBox One reveal, the machine really only got to show off the newest Call of Duty – awesome, except that it is multi-platform and no amount of exclusive content will really drive sales that much. Microsoft obviously have a few issues with not having a wealth of internal studios, but the best thing it can do with that billion dollars or so it wants to throw out on the games market is to found some new internal studios to work on new, exclusive content for the machine. Microsoft will want to very much follow Sony and Nintendo on this, or find itself very quickly sidelined once more on the gaming scene compared to its rivals…
MICROSOFT: FIVE THINGS I DON’T WANT TO SEE AT E3 2013
Seriously, I get the desperation to differentiate at a point where all companies are trying to make out their machine is special (when technically they’ll all largely run the same games in different ways), but the focus on Television at the XBox One reveal was way off base. Microsoft has clearly not paid attention to the progress made in that space by LG, Samsung and others in terms of Smart TV, voice commands and gesture controls. When you can get these functions already built into your television, it is frankly pointless to have the box underneath it trying to do the same damned thing. It’s a red herring, a dead herring and that stinky dead fish smell has been lingering around Microsoft for weeks. Time to throw it away, bust out the air freshener and open a window…
4. Music! Won’t make the people! Come together! YEAH!
Another key note of differentiation is Microsoft’s eagerness on getting into the music world. Truth is, I don’t know anyone who listens to radio or music on the 360. I have a PC, an android phone, a 3DS and access to millions of cheap MP3’s via iTunes and Amazon. I totally think it’s a good idea to encourage people to want to upload their music into racing games and such, but I don’t think it’s an important or necessary part of the future of the XBox One. And the other reason for this is last year, Microsoft thought bringing out Usher unannounced on stage to do a set for the media and the viewing public was culturally relevant and desirable. Most of us woke up the next day wondering it was simply a boredom-induced hallucination…
3. Kinect Demos, especially ones that obviously do not work!
The last few years, Microsoft has desperately tried to push the Kinect and the way it has done this is through demonstrations of how it works. Or rather, for those of us who are paying attention, how it doesn’t work. Many Kinect demos are laggy, unresponsive affairs. Fable: The Journey went one step further and choreographed a whole routine for it, and we STILL knew it was fake because the performance wasn’t at all in sync anyway! If we must be lumbered with this intrusive, ugly black camera of satanic peeping-tom evilness, then at the very least be honest about its functionality. We’ve had years of lies about how the Kinect will change how we core gamers play games. Is it really that hard to just acknowledge the Kinect isn’t inherently a gaming device at all?
2. Defending it’s Used Game policy.
Microsoft can do this at a much later point, we know that Microsoft is making most of this rubbish up as it goes along and does not have a coherent, sensible plan except that it wants to monetise the used games market. We all thought the whole idea was to give back to publishers and developers, until Take Two, UbiSoft and Activision made it clear they may not even see much of if any of the monetary gains at all. There is nothing redeemable, likeable or sensible about any of the XBox One’s used games policy and taking any time to stand on stage and try and defend it in the face of thousands of professional journalists and many many more thousands of actual customers will make Microsoft the most hated pariah on the gaming market, no matter what else it says or does.
Yup, it would appear this might even be the starting point for the XBox One as well, which is great if you’re a mad rich person. If you’re a sane rich person, you’ll buy something else and if you’re a poorer person, there’s obviously no sensible reason to jump into the XBox One on its release. After the shocking press and the awful attempt recently to try and get as much bad news out of the way as possible, the real question and the biggest point on which the whole issue sits is very much how much the machine will cost. At $400, it might get away with it. At $500, yeah, it’s expensive but it’ll be exclusive for a while. At $600, Microsoft may as well do a Benny Hill routine on stage for all anyone else will care. Ironically for a company who promoted The Price Is Right at the reveal show, the price indeed needs to be right…
NINTENDO: FIVE THINGS I WANT TO SEE
AT E3 DURING ITS DIRECT SHOW.
5. Wii U Ambassador Program!
With the heavy price cuts on the Wii U by retailers lately, early adopters of the Wii U feel somewhat burned in the same way early adopters of the Nintendo 3DS felt burned when the price was dropped. Nintendo is likely to make the price cut official, and in the same way, I think its best shot at appeasement will be an Ambassador Programme for those who bought the console before E3 2013. Nintendo can offer a free game or two, digital content and a snazzy icon next to peoples Miiverse posts to show they got there first, and then can build upon that with other deals – like say 10% off all eShop Purchases from thereon out. The early adopters have paid Nintendo and retailers a lot for these machines. It’s a PR coup to give back to them.
4. Linked Content, Unified Account.
Considering how much Sony likes to adopt Nintendo policies and ideas, Nintendo should at least be brave enough to borrow the one thing Sony definitely got right in the last few years the Unified Account system. One account shared over the Wii U and the 3DS, where digital content can be freely downloaded on both when bought, where people can continue to discuss on Miiverse where they left off and even send themselves notifications and alerts at certain times. Nintendo may be ironing out some of the kinks of its new online service, but this would pair up very nicely to its smart sales restructuring on the Wii U eShop. Heck, if Sony want to pair the Vita up to the PS4 in a Wii U way, then Nintendo can at the very least help itself to this one idea.
3. Metroid: Unification.
Seriously, if I have that title correct then by damn I don’t care that my legs don’t function, I will get a neighbour to help me do cartwheels on my lawn. But the general gist of the title is simply that everyone knows Retro Studios is working on a new game and considering everyone is absolutely in love with what it did over the years with bringing Metroid into the 21st Century, that we all really want their new game to be a brand new, epic instalment into the Metroid universe. Perhaps metroids are melding with life forms now in a parasitic unification? Perhaps the metroids are being drawn to something, something that wants to unify them and control them? Either way, we want more metroids, we want Samus Aran and we want a game as good as Metroid Prime!
2. Faster Content Additions.
Look Nintendo, we all know you are sitting on a wealth of content for the eShop. From NES games to Gamecube and Wii games, you are sitting on a potential goldmine of things people might want to actually buy from you and the best you can do for us this week was one NES game? SERIOUSLY?! Nintendo, you have to speed this up. You have to be seen speeding this up, getting the ball rolling and getting the Wii eShop content moved over to the new Wii U eShop as quickly as is humanly possible. The moment you get N64 titles like Wave Race and Starfox 64/Lylat Wars onto it and Gamecube classics such as the Resident Evil remake (still gorgeous to behold!) and Eternal Darkness, people will flock to it in their droves. The content is there for you Nintendo. USE IT!
1. The Legend of Zelda. The new one. Not the Wind Waker update.
Of any game Nintendo has in its arsenal, nothing – and I mean, NOTHING – has the potential to make the gaming world go weak at the knees and rush haphazardly to the nearest bathroom than the reveal of a brand new Zelda game. The Wind Waker HD is gorgeous to behold, but it’s not actually a new Zelda and it won’t have the same impact. Now, all Nintendo has to do is show off some segments from its new upcoming HD Zelda game, even if it’s due for release in 2015, and we’ll all just swoon like Regency-era ladies when Mr. Darcy walks into the room. Dropping an HD Zelda during its Direct Show will be like dropping a tactical missile on anything Sony and Microsoft are doing. It will hog all of the attention. If anything, Microsoft should be praying to its dark lords that Nintendo do this…
NINTENDO: FIVE THINGS I DON’T WANT TO SEE
AT E3 DURING ITS DIRECT SHOW.
5. Nintendo Land…
Let me level with you here Nintendo. Time has softened my view on Nintendo Land, but it will never take away the sensation that really, it was a wasted opportunity to show what the Wii U was really capable of doing. You left that to UbiSoft with Zombi-U. Not a bad idea, but still, not a smart one either. There have been talks to expand on, or do a new, Nintendo Land. And really, just no to this one. Nintendo franchises are loved because they are full products made with love and passion and care. We have Mario Party and Warioware for the mini-game compilations, and that’s where they should really stay. Make a Wii U Sports instead, show everyone how it is done, and leave Nintendo Land and Monita to rust in peace…
4. A Redesign. Schtop!
Some have been saying with new U Pad batteries and the withdrawal of the basic models from the market that Nintendo may be about to show off a redesigned Wii U. As much as I know this is inevitable and going to happen, I still have to say I hope they don’t. Not because I don’t want people to buy the Wii U – I like my Wii U – but because it’s a superficial victory at best. Nintendo have plenty of other issues to be worrying about, and heck, we can replace the U Pad batteries ourselves because unlike other companies, we can unscrew the back from our U-Pad ourselves! And replace the batteries ourselves! The Wii U may not be super-attractive, but it’s not offensive either, and it doesn’t need to go all uber-hip for at least one more year.
I love the Miiverse idea. Which is why I don’t want to see it on Tuesday’s Direct show. Miiverse needs a huge expansion, and for that to have any real impact, it needs to be one huge update. One massive push, one complete overhaul. In much the same way we’re tired of seeing one NES game justify an eShop update a week, we don’t want a drip-feed of updates either. It’s more sensible and more practical to get a whole bunch of upgrades done and do it in one big go, all at once. Please note however I will fully and completely renege on this one if said update is linked or comparable to Mario Paint, at which point I will demand a date, a time and where I need to send the money. Because that’s what we really want (we won’t get it, but it’s what we want…).
2. Third Parties.
Again, people will find this strange but hear me out. This is the Nintendo Direct ‘E3’ Presentation. It will be showing off a Mario Kart due for the end of the year. A new 3D Mario game due again for the end of the year. A new Super Smash Bros., rumoured for the end of this fiscal year (before April 2014). The possibility of a new Metroid, and the very real prospect of the first showings of the brand spanking new HD Zelda game. Now, answer me this; as a third party, would you want to go up against any single one of these games, let alone all of them in one show? Of course not. Nintendo can let third parties have their own reveals in their own shows, or their own Nintendo Direct show a few weeks down the line, and instead concentrate on its own software to generate the sales this time.
1. Anything 3DS – make this a Wii U Spectacular!
I love my 3DS and it gets a lot of love from me, but Nintendo has to pay some attention to the Wii U. The 3DS is already selling like hot cakes, Nintendo has won that fight and the games are coming for the machine thick and fast. Nintendo has to make sure that this year, in the face of two new consoles, that it pushes the Wii U front and centre in its publicity plans. The 3DS is a machine that by and large can now take care of itself; it has gotten over those first turbulent months and is now running and skipping around the market gaily. Right now, the Wii U – whilst not a total sales disaster overall – needs their full and undivided focus and attention. Again, Nintendo’s direct shows can come later for the 3DS. Right now, I think they need to focus on the Wii U, sell it and then reap the rewards.
Aaaaaand… those are the things I want to (and don’t want to) see next week at E3 from the big three.
Note that I will be doing some live-blogs during the shows themselves, which means multiple updates next week. Woohoo. And of course, I will round it all up with a summation (hopefully this year, I can say something nicer than “All Sparklers, No Fireworks…”). I will also post links to stable feeds as and when I know they exist.
For now, I need to go and brutally break my sleep pattern for the upcoming timezone difference. Funny most times I try to get my sleep pattern back to normal, and now I’m trying to break it on my own accord. Sometimes, you just can’t win in this world.
See you all during the E3 Video Season!