E3 2013 is all about next-gen consoles and games
Video games are big business.
Millions of dollars are poured into developing them, and millions more are poured into promoting them, with the end result of billions exchanging hands in retail stores and online (digital hands, in those cases). Nowadays they're considered much bigger than the Hollywood machine that cranks out box-office gold all year round, with some game sales dwarfing the latest international blockbusters.
Once a year, game developers and manufacturers have their day in the sun with the E3 convention-Electronic Entertainment Expo. Held annually at the Los Angeles Convention Center, E3 this year was an explosion of new, next generation technology, and attendant to that, brand new games based on that tech.
The week-long event ended last Friday, and we've got a rundown of what happened.
The biggest E3 news this year, by far, was from game console manufacturers Sony and Microsoft, who this year unveiled, respectively, the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, in standing-room-only-attended events. These two announcements overshadowed the other manufacturer presentations and made their presence felt throughout the duration of the Expo.
Microsoft had already unveiled the latest iteration of their gaming/entertainment console a few weeks ago, and at E3 we were treated to more details and specifics for the Xbox One, although some of the news was a bit disheartening to some gamers. For one, it was announced that gamers had to check in online once a day to ensure the console works properly, and new Kinect had to be connected constantly to play anything. Also, that you couldn't play used games unless you got permission from Microsoft. Now that kinda sucks.
More enlightening was Sony's announcement. They had a pseudo-presentation some months ago where they never actually showed what the console was like, instead focusing on the new Dualshock 4 controller and console specs, along with a few new games made for the console.
This time Sony actually showed what the PS4 console itself looked like, and also said that, unlike Microsoft's Xbox One, the PS4 wasn't going to be region-locked, will not require you to check in online once a day, and will not require you to be online when playing single-player campaigns, and will support used games. Way to go. The only seeming negative was that it was now a requirement to have a PlayStation Plus subscription (roughly PhP2200 a year) to play multiplayer games online (with the exception of some free-to-play games like Planetside 2 and DC Universe Online), but with the great value for money the Plus service provides it's an easier pill to swallow.
Both camps also made a big deal about the entertainment side of their consoles, making sure the audience knew that these weren't just made to play games. Microsoft in particular showed off instantaneous voice-activated media selection and a wide range of online choices on the Xbox One. Sony said they were developing and producing specific content for their own media channel (something Microsoft is doing as well), and adding apps to handle media libraries.
The Xbox One will be priced at US$499, and will include a 500GB hard drive and the newly redesigned Kinect, their motion-sensing camera accessory. Sony's PlayStation 4 will be cheaper at US$399, and likewise have a 500GB hard drive, but will not bundle the PlayStation Eye, their version of the Kinect, with the package (though it will come with a headset). Both will be released this holiday season.
Nintendo largely excused themselves from E3 this year, having already earlier launched the Wii U to the market, but nevertheless managed to make somewhat of a big deal of the forthcoming titles to their systems, in particular Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8.
Despite these big manufacturers' announcements, in the end E3 is all about the games, and this year the introduction of new next-gen consoles meant bigger and better titles. The game developers have gone all out to create new material for the Xbox One and the PS4, and presented them to an anxiously waiting public.
It'd be too tedious to itemize every single new game here, so we'll just focus on a cross-section of some of the top next-gen titles unveiled at E3:
- Titanfall - Without a doubt the biggest title to be revealed at E3, Xbox One-exclusive Titanfall is a shooter-mech hybrid that is the first major release from Respawn, the studio founded by the creators of Call of Duty's Modern Warfare series, with a heavy emphasis on cooperative multiplayer. It will be released during the holidays.
- WATCH DOGS - This multi-platform open-world stealth action-adventure game involves a lot of hacking into various electronic devices to gain information or to destroy them. It is scheduled to be released in November.
- Batman: Arkham Origins - This version has Bruce Wayne/Batman able to use his detective skills to rewind time and discover old events that have already taken place. It will be released in late October for all platforms.
- Super Mario 3D World - This Nintendo Wii U title to be released in December allows you for the first time to play Super Mario in HD. You can play any of the four classic roles, and up to four players can play simultaneously.
- Destiny - No more Halo for the Bungie guys! This new, multi-platform, open-world first-person shooter will be the Halo for the new generation of consoles, and will be released "sometime in 2014."
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt - This game has an open world that's bigger than Skyrim's, and that's saying something. It also has fluid animation, great monster design and an improved battle system, and will be out in 2014.