Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Informed Gamer

The big three have put forth their best foot forward in the new generation and mounting evidence suggests Microsoft stumbled again, Sony soared and Nintendo was ignored. Sony dominated on the PR battle, and rightly so. Although many of the same features derided on the Xbox One were present in the PS4, including but not limited to publisher-driven DRM and subscription-based online play, Sony managed to come out of its conference virtually unscathed. Add to the fact that many games that appeared to be exclusives, but were later shown to be multiplatform, were announced during Sony’s conference and you have a clear winner.

Sony managed to cut the Xbox One of at the knees with a $399 price point, but that doesn’t include the $60 PS Eye. In the short term, failure to include the webcam-esque device with every console works in Sony’s favor, but in the long-term the Xbox One is the smarter move. Not only does it remove doubt about Kinect from the developers mind it also maintains the promise of smart Kinect use. Like the dual sticks use from Halo on the original Xbox, all the Kinect 2.0 needs is that one brilliant game that uses the Kinect in a way that others will copy. Attach rates of peripherals are deemed high when they are around 33%, yet the Kinect is guaranteed to be owned by every Xbox One owner.

On the games side of things, three games really stood out, Watch Dogs, The Division, and Destiny. Other games looked good, especially some exclusive indie titles, Project Spark and Below for the Xbox One and Transistor and Warframe for the PS4. Nintendo, on the other hand was all about perspective. Many comments I read on various gaming sites, implied that since Nintendo failed to show a new Zelda or Metroid it wasn’t a brilliant showing. Either you love Nintendo or you don’t care. If someone said that Microsoft or Sony failed to show Halo 5 or GT 6, and thus didn’t have a great showing, the internet would start laughing. Nintendo fans want more of the same, while Sony and Microsoft fans want something different, its perspective. Personally, nothing would terrify me more than having to play the same games redone over and over again, but it’s what Nintendo fans want and enjoy. On the same token, I think Nintendo fans would revolt if Mario became a M-rated game, things look different depending on where you are standing.

It is a trap to see E3 and jump on a bandwagon, I look through the comments section and I see erroneous information being passed from one person to the next, it sets up heartbreak and anger when the gamer finally realizes their information is incorrect. Usually one person or another will be blamed for the misinformation, the resulting backlash creates more rumor and the wheel just keeps turning. As Microsoft’s Phil Spencer said ‘This isn’t a sprint’.

All that may be true, but Microsoft seemed to be its own worst enemy these last few days, Nintendo's silence has looked almost golden in comparison. While Nintendo did mostly play it safe enough to start calling themselves Apple, there were bright spots on the horizon, none more than a game simply codenamed ‘X’. Nintendo has the promise of something great with ‘X’, developed by Monolith Soft, but it certainly needs help. Other than Bayonetta 2, there isn’t anything in the Wii U lineup that one would stick a title of “mature” on. Whether or not the Wii U audience expects something a little less child-like I cannot say but if these two high profile quality titles fail it could send a chilling ripple throughout the rest of the development community.

If there is one thing to take away from this E3, it is to keep watching, keep reading, and for goodness sake keep your eyes open. E3 may be done, but the next generation may be the start of something incredible, you don’t want to miss a second of it.

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