In just a few days, E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) will be at our doors once again. Game announcements will come from every direction, rumours will be confirmed and gameplay trailers will be shown. While the action on the show floor is what most gamers are waiting for during the months preceding the event, the pre-E3 press conference usually set the pace. Let me brief you on what I think you should expect from the three big console manufacturers’ press conferences as well as from 3rd party developers.
The Japanese giant has absolutely no choice of beginning its press conference with these words: “We are [add any big adverb here] sorry.” Being probably the biggest blow a video game company has taken in a while, Sony cannot start presenting PowerPoint slides to show numbers about how good they are like they always do. At the time their conference will begin, the PlayStation Network will only begin to get better. In addition to apologies, Sony must present new features to PSN users to keep up with its biggest rival, Xbox LIVE. Upgrades such as cross-game chat and better service quality to avoid weekly/monthly maintenance could be something that gamers would love to see happening.
Aside from the whole PSN debacle, Sony has to keep pushing hard with its great exclusive line-up that will hit the PlayStation 3 later this year. Let’s just keep in mind that even though the first half of the year was great for the PS3, the second half will bring us title such as Twisted Metal, The Last Guardian, Uncharted 3, Resistance 3 and inFamous 2. That is quite a good amount of AAA titles for such a short amount of time considering that even more games could be announced.
Another thing you should keep an eye on at Sony’s press conference is the company’s new portable device: the Next Generation Portable (NGP). While we have not heard a whole bunch about it, many details could emerge during E3 including a potential release date, launch price and launch line-up. This is definitely a device that can make or break Sony at E3.
The American software giant has been surprising us over and over in the last few years with press conferences containing big surprise announcements (Final Fantasy XIII coming to Xbox 360, Metal Gear Solid: Rising and more). However, we always had a good idea of the exclusive Xbox 360 fall game line-up going into the press conference. This year is totally different as we only are aware of three Xbox 360 exclusives so far: Gears of War 3, Forza Motorsport 4 and Crytek’s Kingdoms. This is rather thin compared to what Sony is bringing us so Microsoft has to surprise us with game announcements (maybe the rumoured Halo: Combat Evolved remake?).
Also, Microsoft surely has to unveil hardcore Kinect titles (if there is any in development). While a huge amount of Kinect units have been sold around the world, most gamers have not spent a lot of time using the device due to the lack of hardcore titles using it. Microsoft needs to show Kinect games other than sports, fitness and family/party game titles to grab the attention of the hardcore crowd. We already know that a Steel Battalion game with Kinect support is in the work and that Child of Eden will ship in June, but there needs to be more games supporting Kinect if Microsoft wants to keep customers to buy it.
Finally, new Xbox LIVE features should be presented for the first time. Microsoft will also probably put a date on Avatar Kinect Chat and few other features.
First of all, Nintendo must present a great game line-up like they had last year with Super Mario Galaxy 2, Kirby: Epic Yarn and Donkey Kong Country Returns. So far, we know that The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is probably coming later this year and that a new Kirby game is in the works but that’s pretty much everything there is so far for the Wii.
Another option Nintendo have is to show a solid line-up for the obscure Project Café (Nintendo’s next console). If games are shown for this console, I sure hope that Nintendo will try to take back the hardcore crowd by luring big franchises like Call of Duty for example. If not, the console’s key features have to be incredibly innovative or it might fail to reach the hardcore crowd (who usually buy the console at launch). In addition to all of this, the Vitality Sensor device for the Wii might be presented in details during the press conference (and could even get an official release date). Nintendo have promised that there will be a playable version of their next console (set to release 2012), as well as finally showing off their much talked about new controller, with a built-in touch screen.
Also, Nintendo have to talk about upcoming 3DS titles since the launch line-up was not particularly great other than few games like Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition. Aside from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D and StarFox 64 that pretty much all have a solid release date, the few other great 3DS titles we are aware of are Metal Gear Solid 3, Kid Icarus and the new Super Mario Bros. title (that will bring back the famous racoon suit). Still, you can expect many games announcements from the 3rd party developers regarding the 3DS.
3rd party publishers
While the attention is usually directed towards the three console manufacturer’s conferences, let’s not forget about the 3rd party developers. The big studios as well as the smaller ones have constantly been bringing quality experiences during the last years and 2011 is no exception. In fact, this year might be the biggest year for video games since 2007.
The biggest battle we will be able to witness during the upcoming fall season is the confrontation between Electronic Art’s Battlefield 3 and Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Both franchises have a long history of great games and both publishers are bringing out the big marketing guns to make sure their game comes out on top of this battle. Considering that Activision just has started to promote their game recently, it will be interesting to see what both companies will bring to E3.
There will also be a huge amount of great titles shown in Los Angeles next week. I will list some of them just to give you an idea of how big 2011 is shaping up to be:
- Batman: Arkham City
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution
- Max Payne 3
- Star Wars : The Old Republic
- The Elder Scrolls V : Skyrim
- Metal Gear Solid: Rising (might be released in 2012)
- Silent Hill: Downpour
- Diablo III (might be released in 2012)
- Final Fantasy XIII-2
Although this list is far from being complete, let me just remind you one more time that these games are ALL scheduled to be released this year (except Metal Gear Solid: Rising and Diablo III, which are said to have been postponed until 2012). Some of 2012’s games will also probably be shown at E3 this year including Mass Effect 3, BioShock Infinite, Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, StarCraft 2: Heart of Swarm, Blizzard’s next MMO and Final Fantasy Versus XIII.
This year’s E3 is looking incredibly promising. All of the big three (Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo) have interesting information to share with gamers and probably have great surprises up their sleeves. With tons of great titles and the high possibility of seeing new consoles in action, be ready to see news coming from everywhere. It will be one busy week and we will make sure to keep you posted on all the news with daily podcasts and articles.