2013...the BIG Year in Video-Gaming!

On Monday, July 1, 2013 0 comments

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was held a couple of weeks ago and I am finally getting down to capturing my thoughts. This is the annual epicenter of what's new and exciting within the world of console and PC video games. E3 tees up introductions of the latest products coming out for the retails channels in time for the holiday season.

This year's show was particularly special and it was clearly the most dynamic show of the past five years and arguably the most profound showing in the 18 years of the event. Why?

Because this year we have the two hard core gaming platform providers, Microsoft and Sony both placing $1 billion bets on their brand new gaming systems in time for this holiday season in the midst of new competitive pressures from mobile and online. With that much on the line, this show proved to be full of energy, passion and talent all vying for the gaming consumers attention.

The challenge is that over the past two or three generations of console gaming platforms, the focus was on pleasing the core gaming consumer and making efforts to extend the audience further into the mainstream. Instead, the concept of buying a device to hook up to your television and playing a game is under direct pressure by those nifty smart-phones and tablets you carry around.

Those new handheld devices are not cheap...at least the good ones are not. But those new devices have access to an incredible amount of entertainment options ranging from web-surfing, streaming video, social networks, free(pay)-to-play and/or low-cost casual games. All of this consumes the players time and attention and now competes with the purchase of a home entertainment console and it's library of gaming options.

So it is up to the big console manufacturers to deliver a new, must-have gaming experience. Did they deliver? To some degrees I would say yes and to other degrees I would say kinda.

Let's look at the what Microsoft brought to the gunfight...

Microsoft introduced their new Xbox One. This is the next generation of the Xbox series which was first introduced in 2001 and followed up rather quickly with the Xbox 360 in 2005.

Now there has been quite a bit of confusion and reversals in go-to-market strategies for the Xbox One's introduction. Microsoft had planned to have their gaming console constantly connected to the internet. This would have afforded them the opportunity to introduce new content management systems that would be new value-propositions to the consumer as well as afford them and their publishing partners (companies that make and distribute the games) the opportunity to limit reselling the disk multiple times.

While the new features of not needing the disk in the device once a game is installed allowing you to hop from one game or application to another quickly was exciting as well as the ability for others in your family to share the same games was great. But the restrictions on sharing met with incredible negative backlash from the core gaming community.

Another strike for Microsoft was that the Xbox One would include the Kinect gesture camera technology, something that was optional with the Xbox 360. The issue is that this piece of technology as well as some extra capabilities built into the box such as support for cable card tuner support has lead to a premium price of $499 at launch. In this economy, it caught a few consumers off-guard.

And unlike the Xbox 360 which was backward compatible with its predecessor, the One will not support older games including the digital download library of games on Xbox Arcade.

Okay, that all lead to a very bumpy start for Microsoft even for traditionally Xbox fans and is reflected in a good bit of consumer confusion and resistance to purchasing this console out the gate. But Microsoft still has a ton of stuff up their sleeve to help win people back...it will just take time. And these console wars are just that, WARS...made up of many battles.

So what's next for Microsoft? It will focus on several fronts including exclusive game content, Xbox Live services and advanced media capabilities including seamless integration with all your entertainment needs.

First, its all about the games...at least for now. Microsoft is reportedly spending $1 billion in the creation of exclusive internally developed games as well as exclusive 3rd party games developed by others. This war chest of games was quite prominent at the Xbox E3 Media event held the day before the show opened.

Games of note only on Microsoft's platforms included: Titanfall (developed by creators of successful Call of Duty franchise), Ryse: Son of Rome (made by leading 3D technology developer Crytek), Forza 5 (photo-realistic auto racing), Killer Instinct (Rare...previously a Nintendo studio), Sunset Overdrive (creators of Sony's popular Ratchet & Clank), Dead Rising 3 and Microsoft's own Halo.

For a well curated list of forthcoming Xbox One titles, check out IGN's complete list.

One note, is that a Microsoft exclusive can include desktop PC support such as Respawn's Titanfall which will be available for Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC.

Whereas Forza Motorsport 5 is an Xbox One exclusive...

Dead Rising 3 - Another 3rd Party exclusive

What did Sony have up their sleeve?

$399! That is what they had up their sleeve. Originally Sony had planned to include a camera...not unlike the Kinect on Xbox One but instead chose to strike at a much lower price point. This and the fact that Sony had similar computing power (actually a bit more) as well as a non-restrictive digital rights management scheme (DRM)...meant this device behaved similar to current software disk practices of buy, loan to friend and/or resell to retailer all lead to the "gamers choice" coming out of the early days of the show.

Sony's new Playstation is an all-new architecture which is more consistent with other contemporary platforms. As a result, it is quite easy for a game developer to produce games that run on Xbox One, PS4 as well as PC. Even Nintendo's Wii U is not too dissimilar but substantially less horse-powered. But as a result, PS4's are not backward compatible with older Playstation games.

Consistent with the PS3, the Playstation 4 will be able to play Blu-ray discs.

While it is still left up to how the game developers choose to leverage it, but Sony is really pushing the Playstation Vita as a second-screen platform for the new PS4. We'll have to wait and see how the games can benefit from this type of setup.

To that end, the Day One allotment sold out on Amazon in a few days VS Xbox One Day One being still available two weeks after the show. Now they could have had different quantities and the like but still seems a bit telling...obviously this is not great journalism...but when did I claim this site was :-)

I would still give props to Microsoft for their online services offerings (streaming, content & cloud is best in class) which are definitely a leg up over Sony's but if you are looking for a straight-forward gaming console with a solid online offering including their Cloud streaming solution acquired from Gaikai, this looks like your guy.

Exclusives for PS4 include: Infamous: Second Son, Knack (Mark Cerny), The Order: 1886 (ex-Naughty Dog and Blizzard team), Driveclub (Evolution Studios), Deep Down (Capcom) and Kill Zone.

A complete list of Playstation 4 titles is being expertly compiled by the great crew over at IGN.

An E3 show report without mentioning Nintendo?

With so much going on in the Microsoft and Sony camps and the nearly imperceptible movement in the Wii U universe it was very easy to "forget Nintendo". I am sorry to say, it was even detectable within the booth itself which was filled with Disneyland-type character sets. My kids would have had fun in the booth but anyone looking for new treasure troves of great Nintendo gaming would have had a hard time finding much.

If you are one of the gamers that have a Wii U or are considering one, check out these upcoming Wii U titles. Of note, the usual Nintendo in-house (1st party) games look strong but they seem to be few and far between since the launch of the Wii U last year. This includes Super Mario 3D World, Mariocart 8, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze and Super Smash Brothers. Tons of familiar brands...new Wii U packaging.

Other Standout Titles

Tom Clancy's The Division
Arguably one of the most ambitious titles from this year's show.

The Witcher 3
Visually stunning, open-world RPG which is suppose to be 20% larger than Skyrim

Bungie the makers of Halo

Battlefield 4
Strong point really looks to be the 64-player gameplay

Metal Gear Solid V
Taking MGS into an open-world environment


If you have reviewed the attached videos you are probably beginning to see the benefits of what a dedicated, next-generation console can deliver from a pure visual standpoint. The demonstrations here are all first-gen and if you have lived through a lifecycle or two of consoles before you know that as the developers continue to refine their technologies, these games will continue to evolve.

I am already encouraged that the new platforms are moving the art of interactive entertainment to another level and with the inclusion of enhanced online, multiplayer, cloud-computing and streaming capabilities...more is to come.

I didn't focus on the network, online aspects of the platforms as we really haven't been shown the final incarnation. When these features and capabilities become more clear at or near launch, I'll be sure to provide more information within the final product reviews.

The big question, hopefully the consumers will come with money-in-hand to purchase these new platforms and make them a viable business environment for another generation of gamers!

LarryLarry Pacey, award-winning designer tracks the latest news on consumer products, electronics, appliances, smart devices, networking and the gadget lifestyle.
For the latest news follow me on:

------------------------------ OR -------------------------------

Please comment below and share your thoughts. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to email me at wouldntmind@gmail.com.

Just my 2-cents,



Post a Comment