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The rites of spring are upon us again with the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the big game trade show in Los Angeles that starts on Saturday and runs through Thursday. I’ve shared my tips for surviving E3, but now I’ve got to think about the really big things that we’ll be expecting to beginning Saturday with EA Play in Hollywood.
People like to predict that E3 is going to die, but I don’t see it going away, even though the Entertainment Software Association has a new leader (Stanley Pierre-Louis) after the departure of longtime chief Mike Gallagher, and even though Sony, Electronic Arts, and Activision are no longer showing games on the floor. It’s still the place to find the next generation of cool gaming experiences, and it will be the place that we’ll get a chance to discover or play dozens of games that will come out in the future.
Two hundred companies will show off thousands of products, with 50,000 professionals and 15,000 fans attending. The social media impact will be huge, with perhaps a billion impressions. Fifty of the companies have never been at E3 before, and Pierre-Louis said that the show floor is sold out. He said it remains a “cultural moment” for gaming.
But we want to know about the games. Last year, Walmart Canada accidentally leaked everything new. But only some of the big games have leaked this year, like Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs: Legion. I want to know what else is coming, but I also want to be surprised. I want to see the look on a developer’s face as they show off an ambitious game that they’ve been working on for years.
I want to find something like The Last of Us, a beautifully moving game that I am playing right now with one of my older kids.
Things to see, people to meet
E3 is also good for catching up. I have an insane 59 meetings, events, parties, and demos to attend. I’m always looking for a good story, and I never know exactly where it’s going to come from. I’ll miss seeing Reggie Fils-Aime, who retired as Nintendo of America’s president, even if I only glimpse him from afar these days.
In an exchange with Phil Harrison this week, I said I was glad to see Google moving into the intentional game company space, and he confirmed in a tweet that the plans for Stadia, the cloud gaming system debuting in November, are very intentional. No longer do the platform owners stand aloof from games, as accidental lords over gaming.
Google won’t be on the show floor, but its presence will be felt. And every big company — Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo — has to think about how to up their game and stay ahead of rivals like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Samsung, and Apple. We will see how much power Epic Games has accumulated because of the success of Fortnite, and what it will do with that power — beyond throwing a giant party.
And we will see how much momentum the battle royale genre started by PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds will have in the year to come, with new games such as Respawn’s Apex Legends leading the charge. Will we have better games to see from others?
I’m a little worried that EA doesn’t have much to surprise us with. But I am looking forward to Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. And I hope to get some surprises on the virtual reality and PC gaming front.
I’m anxious to see Microsoft’s big titles like Halo Infinite and Gears of War 5, but I also realize that Microsoft’s recently acquired studios probably won’t bear fruit for a while still. I am very curious about Project xCloud, Microsoft’s cloud gaming service, and I would love to hear more about its next-generation console. After all, we know that Sony isn’t talking about the PlayStation 5.
Bethesda has had decent games coming out like Rage 2, but Fallout 76 was widely panned. Now the company will show titles like Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Doom Eternal. But will it give us some good news about Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI?
Square Enix is sure to impress us with Marvel’s Avengers, and Ubisoft will likely have some cool things to show like Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint and the Watch Dogs title. I hope we see a lot more of Beyond Good and Evil 2. Without Sony, I fear we won’t hear anything from Hideo Kojima.
On Tuesday, I hope Nintendo can give us some surprises beyond its standard Zelda, Mario, Luigi, and Pokemon titles. But it may be a bit of a slow time in some circles of the industry. And I hope Borderlands 3 provides us with some of that magic that we sorely need in this last year before the consoles renew themselves.
I am usually most interested in Activision’s latest Call of Duty game. But this year, after seeing a preview of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, I am most worried about it. It has realistic violence, and I’m not sure that’s going to be a fun game to play. I’ll reserve further judgment on it until I see more. Gamers may get a glimpse of it at E3 in some way, and I hope that starts a real conversation.
Right now, I don’t see any games like Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 on the horizon, except perhaps CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077. I sure hope we see something like what Rockstar created with 2,000 people working across as many as seven years. I worry we won’t see something like that for a while.
But I have faith. Every year, I worry about this. But game developers always deliver.
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