As E3 quickly approaches it’s the perfect time to discuss what the three console manufacturers must bring to this celebration of all things electronically entertaining so as to take a solid first step into the next-generation.
Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony have each experienced successes and failures in this generation, meaning they all enter the E3 arena with something to prove. As such I’m going to cover what the big three should bring to Los Angeles next week, as well as taking some wild stabs at what could happen, albeit unlikely.
Despite the Xbox 360 performing consistently well through its lifespan the announcement of the Xbox One has left many gamers feeling abandoned and confused. Now is the chance Microsoft needs to reassure fans that they’re the right choice for gaming.
What Microsoft should do
On Monday, June 10th at 9:30AM P.T. Microsoft has to hit the ground running. The Xbox One reveal left many severely underwhelmed, and while the technology shown looked impressive, few gamers will buy a new and expensive console because it makes watching TV easier. What Microsoft must show at E3 is how and why the next Xbox is going to improve gaming for those lucky enough to own one.
The brief glimpses and whispers we’ve heard linked to the potential of Cloud gaming suggest an immensely powerful and impressive tool and now is the time to flaunt how this technology can enhance gaming for Xbox One owners. Given recent leaks, a great example for the benefits of Cloud gaming could be Respawn Entertainments upcoming title, Titanfall. This title will supposedly be exclusive to Xbox and PC and will make use of the Cloud. How exactly? I don’t know, but I want to, because it could sell the console to me and many others.
However, although it may sound counter-intuitive Microsoft should not spend the entire hour discussing games alone. They must discuss the reasons for their choices behind the functionality of the Xbox One. Specifically how Microsoft’s next console will treat used games and handle internet requirements. Miss-matching information from interviews and the recent press release detailing the abrasive rules for trading and selling pre-owned content has only hurting the reputation of Xbox One.
Now is the time, when every gamer is watching, to lay their cards on the table.
If the reality of used games and DRM is as bad as we fear Microsoft should at least be honest and explain their reasoning behind it. Although many fans may not like it can’t get worse and anything is better than sweeping the issue under the rug again.
What Microsoft may do…
In a bizarre attempt to appear more family friendly, Microsoft will hire children to run the entire press conference. Each child will be dressed to look like adolescent versions of Don Mattrick, Marc Whitten and Phil Spencer.
Kinect 2.0 will be revealed as the dark overlord of all your “entertainment experiences”. It’s explained that any time a new person enters your living room the Kinect 2.0 will demand that they complete a lengthy oral exam so as to ascertain how to provide them with optimal entertainment.
Questions will include, what is your favorite sport? (Note: None, is not accepted) As well as, do you want to use voice commands only while using the Xbox One? (Note: Turning off voice commands will block all games, not just used games) Failure to comply with this exam will cause the Xbox One to self-destruct.
In recent years Nintendo has experienced an unfortunate fall from grace. They now step on to the battlefield following the incredibly meager launch of the Wii U and must prove they can still harness that classic magic which has attracted so many gamers to their consoles in the past.
What Nintendo should do
The originality and simplicity of the Wii introduced consumers to gaming in a way never witnessed before or since. Unfortunately, this boom in popularity descended into a whimper and while Nintendo clearly thought they could strike gold again through the Wii U, a lack of killer apps and poor marketing meant it has has tripped and stumbled through the months since its inception. During the Nintendo Direct broadcast on Tuesday, June 11th at 7:00 P.T. Nintendo must pick the Wii U up, dust it off and say, “Hey, you know all those great games you begged us for? Well here they are!”
Despite the exclusives their rivals are touting, Nintendo stands in a very unique position. Many big titles will be revealed during the E3 Nintendo Direct, and depending on the information that comes with it Nintendo has the potential to strike hard this fall with an incredible release schedule packed with exclusives.
We know Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101 and Wind Waker HD will arrive this year, but if Nintendo can combine this ‘triforce’ of highly desirable content with other major titles – i.e. a new 3D Mario, Mario Kart and Smash Bros. – it will attract massive attention from the gaming public. Add to this more information on upcoming cult titles such as Bayonetta 2 and Game & Wario, as well as eagerly anticipated 3DS titles, such as Pokemon X/Y, and Nintendo have an awesome recipe for success.
Beyond the games though, Nintendo must explain how they will continue to support and expand uses for the Wii U and its unique gamepad. As an example, TVii is a very cool and original feature which highlights the multimedia potential of the console. Developing and accurately marketing similar features will expand its appeal to wider audiences, a crucial element to the success of the Wii. Highlighting the convenience of video-calls between Wii U gamepads and expanding the library of games on the Virtual Console could pique the interest of both casual and core audiences, giving additional incentive for apprehensive buyers or consumers who still believe the Wii U is an add-on for the original Wii.
What Nintendo may do…
Satoru Iwata will emerge wearing an amusing hat or holding a piece of fruit. He will gesture toward the screen stating he is once again pleased to speak to us, “directly.”
Shigeru Miyamoto will appear shortly after in a Varia suit while wearing a blonde wig. He will hint the announcement of a new game; this will turn out to be a sequel to Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg.
Although Reggie-fils Aime will not appear during the Nintendo Direct broadcast he will be revealed as a playable character in the new Smash Bros. It’s confirmed that a consecutive play time of 600 hours is required to unlock him.
Finally, Sony jump into fray, arguably doing so from the third position of this generation. Current reports suggest they’re learning from the mistakes made with the Playstation3, but will E3 convince us that they really are the console for gaming?
What Sony should do
During the Playstation4 reveal event in February – as well as in subsequent interviews – Sony has repeatedly assured fans that the PS4 is first and foremost a games console, and at 6:00PM P.T. just hours after Microsoft’s conference, it’s time for them to put their money where their mouth is.
While the reveal event in New York wasn’t terrible, it did leave a lot to be desired in terms of solid content, Deep Down, Killzone Shadow Fall and Knack all looked great (ok, maybe not Knack just yet) but beyond those titles we didn’t see much but teaser footage and developers marching on stage just to say, “Hey we’re making a game for PS4 …. So check it out at some point.” An E3 press conference is not the place to waste time, as such Sony should not bring anyone on stage unless they have something exciting to reveal, including recognizable gameplay footage.
It goes without saying that Sony should provide more information on exclusive games coming to the PS4 and this should include their continued desire to support Indie Developers as well as any new partnerships for exclusive downloadable titles. The cheap and cheerful games developed by these groups can only bolster the PS4’s position as a console for gamers, improving its desirability as the industry continues to step toward micro-transactions and shorter but sweeter experiences.
However, there is still crucial information Sony should provide to secure any form of victory this E3, including the cost and release date of the PS4, as well as y’know, revealing what the console actually looks like.
Sony would also be wise to re-iterate and solidify their stance on DRM and used games. While it may seem silly to mention it, confusion still remains over how Sony will treat the used game market as well as any other requirements the system may have. With the all eyes on them, Sony should use their press-conference to put the rumors to bed while hopefully putting a smile on the face of those “#PS4NoDRM” tweeters.
What Sony may do…
Kaz Hirai will drive onto the stage in what appears to be a tank, it will initially appear to be a “console war” joke but after a brief explanation it is revealed that this tank is actually the Playstation4.
As journalists, shareholders and fans-alike all look at each other bemused Kaz stands confident a-top his sleek new console and shouts, “Ridge Racer!”
A glimpse of sanity will break through as Square Enix’s Shinji Hashimoto steps onto the stage. Through a crooked smile he will explain that when he asked fans to, “be excited for E3,” it was so he could reveal that, “We will be showing the new Final Fantasy at Tokyo Gameshow, please check it out then.” The audience will proceed to pelt the stage with hundreds of plush Moogle toys.
So there you have it, my thoughts on what should / may happen during E3. I hope Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all have a great show, but what do you think? Could I be right about any of it? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading. For this and other rambles, please check out my blog or follow me on Twitter.
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase one of the first 50 tickets and save $400!