For us video gaming enthusiasts E3 is a pretty exciting time of year. People who are not into videogames might find it a bit weird that we’re all captivated by men in suits talking about their products on stage to an audience of journalists, or related Twitter feeds. This rabid hunger for video game news was arguably why E3 2012 was kind of, well, lame.
The big three’s press conferences were super sparse. Microsoft and Sony didn’t talk about new consoles. Microsoft spent ages talking about how you could browse the internet on 360, which made people realise how stupid it was that you couldn’t before then. They also talked about Xbox SmartGlass – their version of the seemingly now-obligatory tablet-console functionality thing. Sony seemed to forget the PSVita existed, but seemed all too keen to spend half of its conference on the Wonderbook — the J.K. Rowling endorsed, Eye-Toy-esque, interactive pop-up book device. Nintendo had announced the Wii U at E3 2011 and despite having bonus “all-access” online videos focusing on software, they still managed to pull no crazy surprises out of their hat. Nintendo’s main conference seemed to be building to a big reveal which many hoped would be on par with the Super Smash Bros. Brawl trailer and Solid Snake reveal in 2006. Somehow this ended up just being about Nintendo Land, the Wii Sports-ish mini-game collection designed to show-off Wii U hardware, which is also bundled with the premium editions of the console. Ubisoft had a surprisingly stellar conference, though, and showed off some great games including the still hotly anticipated WATCH_DOGS.
E3 2012 wasn’t terrible, just really disappointing. Will E3 2013 also be kind of lame? Almost certainly not. Why? Because we can expect a different type of excitement from each of the big three – and variety is the spice of life or something, right?
The PlayStation 4 was officially announced recently. Somewhat cleverly, Sony focused exclusively on software during the conference, the controller coming into the picture separately – arguably due to leaks. Sony are in a good position here with having announced enough to give people confidence in what the PS4 will deliver, but have held enough back to still create some hype at E3 this year. While we do know some of the hardware specifications, it is likely E3 will be the first time we actually get to see the PS4, and might even be where we get a fixed price point for one of the big dogs of the next console generation. Maybe the PS4 will bring with it some interesting Vita cross-functionality and linked games? There is also the chance Sony will just pretend it doesn’t exist, though.
Contrary to the PS4 the new Xbox 720/Durango/Loop/Gold is still fairly steeped in rumours, hence the slew of possible names and codenames. However, it is unlikely that now the PS4 has a lot of concrete information that the new Xbox will remain in the dark for long. E3 may be the perfect time for an unveiling to directly compete with Sony. With the PS3 and Xbox 360 filling similar market holes in the last generation of consoles, the dynamic between their two new consoles will definitely be interesting, and could come out of the woodwork at E3. Due to the poor economy at the moment, and video gaming being a luxury, price points might be a hot topic for Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles – which could be interesting to watch in and of itself. Microsoft seems like it could be a wild-card this year, and as far as surprises are concerned they certainly have an advantage in being able to shock people. There’s always the chance they won’t bring anything new to the table, but there’s always the exciting build-up to look forward to, and even if they don’t hit hard it could be funny to watch anyway.
In comparison to Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo already have their next generation console out. The Wii U has been out since last Christmas, and was announced all the way back in 2011. Like the 3DS, the Wii U has been criticised for having a weak library of titles, but like the 3DS it might begin to pick up some strong releases now that the ball is rolling. We already know Nintendo is hard at work with a new Mario game, a new Mario Kart, a new Smash Bros., and a new Zelda. Also, Platinum Games are hard at work on the more hardcore, Wii U exclusive Bayonetta 2. There’s a chance we could actually see some showing of some big must-have releases for the Wii U, and it’s about time. Game-wise Nintendo will probably be the most interesting this year, as they’ve taken the time to set up a solid, next generation platform already, while Sony and Microsoft are only just getting going. Unless Sony and Microsoft somehow come up with some miraculous launch titles to show at E3, Nintendo is going to be the one to watch for exciting new game announcements and footage.
It’s sort of a past/present/future thing as far as the big three are concerned for E3 2013. You’ve got Nintendo, who already have their Wii U out-of-the-gate as far as next-generation gaming consoles are concerned, and now should be focusing on getting some great games out on the system. You have Sony with their PS4, which is only just starting to get hyped at the moment, and will probably still be fairly fresh by the time E3 rolls around. And then you have Microsoft, who may wait until E3 before making many solid announcements about their gaming futures at all. There’s definitely going to be a little bit of something for everyone, no matter your mind-set, and it will definitely be one to watch.