I Am Multitalented. No Doubt.
Okay, this weekend, I’m going for some E3 Predictions!
I know, I know… E3 is still over two weeks away. But at the same time, it’s just over two weeks away! O.o Being the geek that I am, I can’t help it! Besides, if I’m to get my predictions in, now is the best time for it, when rumors are already flying and some leaks are bound to show up.
I don’t want some 11th hour revelation spoil my fun, so here we go!
Sony is in an interesting place this year. Last year was a massive momentum building effort that saw a deluge of amazing games like Uncharted 2. This year I see a few promising titles on the horizon (FFXIII Versus, Killzone 3, Little Big Planet 2) but so far I don’t see anything that really catches my eye like last year. It’s strong, but is it going to be strong enough to match Microsoft’s Halo and Gears Bonanza? The Last Guardian might do wonders for the Hardcore crowd if they have a playable demo, but even then, Team ICO has never been a studio to produce money-making blockbuster hits. The Playstation 3 has just started catching up on the Xbox in sales, and they need to stay strong to keep things moving.
Last Guardian Will Be A Tearjerker
I’m mostly hoping that they pull something completely unexpected out of nowhere. In this industry there are always leaks, and secrets don’t usually stay so secret for very long. But total surprises are not unprecedented. I just hope that we don’t get a Logo for a new game and a pep talk. If they have something extra special hidden away, I hope it’s at least a teaser trailer.
The Move. It's totally not a sex toy.
Of course, while games are what the Hardcore want most, there’s also the Move to consider. The GDC showing was mediocre. At least that is the way it appeared from this side of my computer monitor. The tech looks promising, and I think the controller has great promise for FPSs and Third Person Shooters (Not to mention Strategy games, etc.) But Sony has to prove to me that it will be worth it. GDC’s showing has not yet done that for me. Motion controls can’t just be new anymore. They have to be GOOD.
At least they have the hilarious marketing campaign.
Major roadblocks for the Move include pricing structures, the fact that it is not the De Facto control standard for the system (you mean I have to go to a store and BUY one? … eh, never mind *sits lazy butt back on couch*,) and, oh yeah, the Wii and NATAL. NATAL is a completely unique experience, and the Wii already has the casual audience in a vice grip. Will pretty graphics and more accurate controls be enough to woo Casual gamers to a much more expensive set-up?
uh... impressive? ...?
And then there’s 3d. Sony seems to really want 3d to be a massive success, but they’ve got a niumber of factors working against them. First of all, the Hardcore crowd seems to be split between the three parties of Hating 3d, Loving 3d and indifference, and as far as I can tell the Hating crowd have the upper hand. Secondly, you need a 3d capable television and those are expensive. So expensive that it would likely only be in the realm of possibility for the techno-obsessive and the Hardest of the Hardcore, and like I said earlier they aren’t even sold on the effect. The casual audience, who are more likely to be wowed (until they tire of wearing glasses) do not have that kind of money to put into gaming. Not in this economy. Really I don’t know where Sony thinks this is going. Nintendo has a much better position with their 3DS because casual players love hand held devices, 3d, and not having to wear silly glasses. Nintendo is providing a trifecta that can turn into a full blown invasion if they price the 3DS right.
Sony doesn’t have that, and so it will be an uphill battle.
Will the PSP2 look anything like this? The sticks are placed awkwardly...
Sony seems to want to focus their 3d push on their console, and abandon it for the PSP. At least that’s what they say. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pull something out last minute at E3, like, oh, say: The PSP 2. This is what I’m predicting to come out of Sony. I’m thinking it’ll be much more powerful, with two analogue sticks and either a touch screen or 3d. My money is on 3d. I would also expect he system to be able to connect to a 3G network and download apps of some kind. Everyone is the handheld business is going to try to chip away at Apple’s market. If Microsoft had a handheld, it would soon be squeezed out of this war, which makes their decision to stay out of the fray, in retrospect, look like a wise choice.
Microsoft has the least to prove when it comes to their gaming lineup this year. With two headliners (Gears of War 3, Halo: Reach) and a number of interesting secondary games (Fable III) to cement its position as the Hardcore gamer’s go-to system (especially for multiplayer) they only need to bring out a few hidden surprises to make this a strong year for the Xbox 360.
Little Milo, The Silly Imaginary British Boy. Will he show up?
Where Microsoft does have to prove itself is with Project NATAL (I’ve heard rumors it’s being rechristened the Microsoft Wave.) They plan on having a big Cirque du Soleil extravaganza to promote it at E3, no doubt including some sort of Cirque du Soleil game. This event is planned to hit the mass media and all the casual players. It will no doubt be a success. Where they need to prove themselves is with the Hardcore gamer. It’s easier to believe that Hardcore experiences can be made for Sony’s Move and even the Wii. At least they have controllers. It is much harder to wrap your head around a controller-less interface.
ooooo! Halo: Reach!
Which is why, if they’re smart, they’re going to show off games you still play with a regular controller, but use NATAL to enhance the experience. Playing a squad based shooter in which you use hand signals to direct your squad would be amazing, and I think would go a long way to convincing some people.
Microsoft would look, at first, to be in the most stable position. It would seem that playing it safe and putting out a selection of expected but great games, and proving NATAL’s worth would be enough.
But it is not.
oooo! Gears of War 3!
Nintendo is still ahead of everybody in sales and mind-share, so Microsoft has to prove that NATAL not only works, but that it is far superior to the Wii’s interface. That is a much harder sell. The Playstation is closing in on the Xbox’s lead, and while Microsoft’s game lineup is strong, if Sony pulls out all the stops this year, Microsoft might loose more ground.
Microsoft can’t just play it expected and safe. Both Nintendo and Sony are going to pull out some surprises this year (they have to) and this could push Microsoft to the background. If they are to stop this from happening, they need some aces of their own.
When it comes to the Big N, I was, at first, thinking this would be a big year for their console games. They have to do something serious for the Wii to stave off the encroaching Project NATAL and Sony Move. Granted, those two new products have a mountain to climb, but it might just be scalable. The Move is cruising in Nintendo’s waters, essentially marked as a more capable Wii HD, and NATAL does something that may not be as good as the Move in game play capabilities, but does offer a completely novel experience, which is the same attractive factor that drew the casual audience to the Wii in the first place.
What will the 3DS look like?
Nintendo needs to do something big for the Wii, and so when I read some people in the industry saying that it would be a big show for Nintendo in the handheld market, I scoffed. Of course, then I remembered the 3DS. The 3DS is Nintendo’s next big handheld which promises 3D effect without the need for glasses. This alone provides a wave of hype for Nintendo to ride with the casual audience, but I think there’s more to it than that.
Like This? (other images show how the screen can adjust and such)
Nintendo is pegging the system as the next big step for their handheld business, and as important as 3D will be for the system, it isn’t the kind of innovation that Nintendo would be likely to say is moving their whole line forward. Nintendo has lately not been a business bent on providing higher quality visual effects. So the biggest reveal may yet be coming.
Being as this is a predictions post, I’m going to go out on a limb to say what I think the hidden innovation is: Persistent Online ID, accessible anywhere through a 3G (4G?) network. This will probably mean a partnership with somebody, maybe Sprint (4G??.) This will mean more processing power, which will also be accompanied by Gamecube (or near-so) graphics, and a new dashboard type setup.
Either Way, It's going to look a lot like this...
I say this because Nintendo sees Apple’s star rising into the gaming sphere, and dominating wherever it goes. On top of that, they’re trying to come up with an online network solution and buisness model, both for the Wii and for their handhelds. I think the 3DS will be an experiment for the company in the online space. If the Persistent Online ID is successful, it may find its way to the next version of the Wii (which I personally see being announced NEXT E3 – I don’t see them announcing two systems at the same time.)
The Only Evidence So Far
Outside of the 3DS there will be many games, obviously, but the one I’m looking forward to the most is Zelda for the Wii. Merely teased last year, I want some solid info. Nintendo needs Zelda for the end of the year so they can have a big Christmas. Super Mario Galaxy 2 is already out (and awesome! I love that game,) and Metroid: Other M is coming out far too early to be considered a holiday release, in my opinion. That leaves a gaping hole during the holidays. I expect that Nintendo plans to fill that time frame with Zelda and perhaps one or two other major last minute announcements (Pikmin seems likely, but I don’t see that being a suitable secondary to Zelda.)
Zelda with Wii Motion Plus has me salivating, but it could also turn out to be the biggest disappointment of the year, so… yeah, I’m worried.
Is It As Dumb As It Looks?
Of course there’s an unquantified element to add in here, the Wii Vitality Sensor. What the heck to they plan on using it for, anyway? On the surface it seems spectacularly dumb, but Nintendo has pulled off some amazing things when everyone called them foolish before, so we’ll see.
That’s it for my E3 predictions (Except for the obvious, that the Music genre is going to see further decline, and unique ideas to combat it.) So on one final, unrelated note –
I’ve never seen any of the Sex in the City media, neither TV nor film. I never want to. But I do know some things about it, and so I can say with all sincerity that This Is The Best Movie Review I’ve Read In Some Time. It absolutely nails the ridiculous frivolousness and soullessness of that particular franchise, and comes from a Feminist point of view that I can appreciate.
It’s a good read. I highly recommend.
If you haven’t read my last blog, please do so. I’ve gotten few views on it, sadly, especially when compared to my old standby which still gets more hits than all my other posts combined every week. Eh. *shrugs*.
Have a great weekend, ya’ll! I’ll try to find some time to talk about Katie moving down here for next Wednesday.
– Edward L. Cheever II