E3 Preview: What to Look For

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E3 has already begun! The show itself may not start until Tuesday, but with the scheduling, booth set up, and hundreds of emails, E3 might as well have started this last week. And with so many questions about the next generation (and with it the future) of gaming, E3 2013 may be the most interesting we will see in a very long time.

Now, you can look at the next generation of gaming how you will. I personally think that we’ve been here for a while and the Xbox One and Playstation 4 are late to the party. But since those two are the big power players, all eyes, and expectations, are on them. They’re the ones who will be holding the future of gaming on their backs. We as gamers just need to know who’s doing it right, and who we can trust. And, since we’re still not entirely sure who’s planning on doing what come this Fall, it’s kind of a really big deal.

Now, with the two biggest heavy hitters coming this year, we’re going to want to see what Sony and Microsoft have planned. Not only are new consoles coming this year, but loads of new games will come. I know both companies are holding a lot close to their chest in regards to pricing models, online infrastructure, and especially games. All those games. This year’s E3 will have so many new game announcements for both new consoles. It’s going to be a lot to take in. Normally, they would tease new games or announce them while showing them off (behind closed doors) at earlier E3s, but this year everything is different. Microsoft and Sony said their piece at their previous press conferences earlier this year then locked their doors. But come E3, they’re going to open the preverbal flood gates, release the hounds (or kraken), or any other kind of metaphor to explain just how much information will be coming out of everywhere. Remember, Microsoft and Sony are not the only ones who will be showing off next-gen games at E3.

We already know of many third party developers making games for both the Xbox One and PS4. We just don’t know of many exclusives. Not console exclusives by them. Generation exclusives. What I’m trying to say is that we know of some games (Call of Duty Ghosts, Watch Dogs) that will be coming this year to the 360 and PS3 that will also be receiving a better version on the XBONE and PS4. The games will play very similarly, but the versions on the better consoles will, most likely, have much more assets or smoother animation. Same games with better gaming experiences. We’re going to see a lot of that this E3.

I don’t think I need to mention how this E3 will have a bunch of first party console exclusives both being shown and played on the show floor. It’s how they’re going to build their hype machine and adds leading up to each console’s imminent release date. They’re just waiting until after E3 so they can tag on all those “Best of E3” logos in their commercials.  They’re also going to show off their heavy hitters to please the fanboys. If Microsoft somehow shows off Halo 5, the XBONE will be in a good place. If Sony announces that The Last Guardian will be a PS4 launch title, then they would have won E3. At least that’s what all the fanboys will be fighting over.

Whats both the most interesting thing and saddest thing about this E3 is the effect of the economy and smart devices have had on the consumer culture since this/last (whatever) generation started. The world is a much different place than it was eight years ago. People don’t have as much money as they used to. They also spend soo much more money on their phones, tablets, and other media devices than they used to. Heck, those didn’t exist until recently and now people are upgrading every year. There isn’t as much room gaming consoles as there used to be. And if the products don’t sell as well as planned, then this could be the dark age of gaming.

The economy is one of the main reason it has taken this long to even show off the new consoles. Usually, we’d have a new console in five years. This time it’s been, what, eight years? People will be reluctant to spend a lot of money of a new console. It’ll take years to reach a similar install base of users. Because of that, we’re going to see a really long generational shift. Xbox 360 games are not going to be phased out as soon as you might think. A lot of developers won’t want to start making games on the new consoles until they know they have a chance at selling a certain amount of games. So just be ready to see both 360 and One versions of the same game for a long time after the XBONE is released.

And the final reason why this could be the most interesting E3 is the smaller developers. Those who cannot make games for the new console for a while. The “B” tier. I’ve been seeing a lot of frustration on the internet from companies who are afraid that their new 360 or PS3 game will be completely over-shadowed by all the new shiny games. They won’t have ports on both new and old consoles. They can’t afford to do that just yet. Everyone is going to want to talk about the new and unknown, and these developers are afraid they’ll get left in the dust, or in page 55 (of 60) in E3 news.

So really, we’re going to see a little bit of everything at this year’s E3. There’s so much we don’t know about and it’s killing us. All of us. We want to know what the future of gaming is and how bright it’s going to be. We just might forget to say hi to what’s already here though.