E3 starts up next week, and so it's time for a very special edition of "The Future of…" This week, we are going to look into the past and the future of E3s and hypothesize about what will happen this year. Let's take a look.
Sony is known for hosting one of the biggest press conferences at the show that, unfortunately, says the least about their upcoming products. The PlayStation has historically succeeded based on its third-party support, so most of their presentation consists other people's games. That's not to say Sony won't have their own stars to show off. The new God of War may take center stage this year, as will the new party fighting game PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Sony will also continue to unveil new functionality for the Vita considering that the handheld is still young. Of the "Big Three," Sony is the least likely to unveil a new console. They are the youngest and most powerful console on the market, and their Move peripheral did not go over as well as they thought it would. Coming up with a new console fresh off a peripheral flop spells SEGA CD/SEGA Saturn all over again.
Nintendo is the only one of the Big Three that focuses on video games and video games alone, and they know it. They routinely have the largest and arguably most impressive lineup of first-party releases year after year after year. This year, the pressure is on, as Nintendo has to prove to us that their launch line-up for the Wii U is spectacular. Expect appearances, demos, or at the very least videos of the new Smash Bros., the upcoming Wii U Mario title, and more. In addition, expect Nintendo to start pushing the hardcore market this year by including more third-party titles. Nintendo will also try to expand the lineup for the 3DS this year, but they probably won't focus on it too much. Nintendo is in a strange place, in that we aren't expecting anything big out of the 3DS but want to see the Wii U in all of its glory. Nintendo is going to do everything they can to wow us and retain their market dominance.
Oh, Microsoft, the perpetual wildcard of the E3 Big Three. It's a pretty safe bet that we are going to see Halo 4 and a bunch of other hardcore titles come out of Microsoft, as we always do, but everything else they present is a total mystery. Maybe they will have a Cirque du Soleil concert followed by giving everyone at their press conference a free Xbox, maybe they will spend most of their press conference talking about ESPN and other TV services, or maybe they will spend all their time talking about casual titles no one cares about. The surprise that I think we are most likely to see is the announcement of a brand new Microsoft console. Microsoft is the company that we have heard the most rumor and speculation about in terms of next-gen consoles, and with the Wii U hitting shelves soon, they won't want to fall behind in the game.
EA has routinely has simply too many games to cover at their booth and press conference. You can be sure to see announcements from Battlefield, Crysis, and the Medal of Honor franchises, and that's just the FPS end of things. We also have all of EA Sports to contend with, with a new Madden title being showcased. Not only that, but there's the Maxis end of things with a brand new SimCity coming out. What other surprises does EA have in store? We don't know, but at this point they barely need to surprise us. They are one of the biggest booths at the conference, and may just be the biggest third-party developer on the market right now.
Ubisoft's big showings this year will be Assassin's Creed III and Rayman Legends, and this falls in line with what Ubisoft does most years at E3. They choose a few titles to push hard, and then let the rest of their titles trickle in after them. Everyone is hyped to finally see a playable demo of ACIII, and Rayman Legends might be the first big third-party platformer on the Wii U. Then there's Far Cry 3, their addition into the FPS market, and Rocksmith, their attempt to show us that rhythm games aren't dead. After those titles we will probably see a bunch of casualware for the Wii U like Just Dance or a new Your Shape.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is coming, and year after year Activision makes the center of their booth a Call of Duty experience. So yes, this year we will see lots and lots of Call of Duty Black Ops 2 info. But aside from that, we will also likely see some demos of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD, 007 Legends, and Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. Heck, we might even get a chance to play some of these games if we aren't killed by the hordes of journalists waiting to play Black Ops 2.
With all the problems that Capcom has been having with Street Fighter X Tekken recently, the company has decided to take a break from fighting games. The past two E3s put SFxTK and Marvel vs. Capcom 3 at the center of their booth, but this year we will most likely see them focusing on the new Devil May Cry and Resident Evil 6. Capcom has also recently trademarked a new IP called "Remember Me?" which may also make a showing at its booth this year. In short, expect fewer combos and more zombies.
Square has been all about its third-party developers for a couple years now. Tomb Raider will most likely be a gigantic showing at their booth, as will the new indie-hit made by the creators of Portal, Quantum Conundrum. The closest thing Square will have to a traditional JRPG is Kingdom Hearts 3D (Dream Drop Distance), and while Square fans are obviously hyped for this next edition of the Kingdom Hearts plot, we all really just want Kingdom Hearts 3 already. Square tends to be one of those booths that gamers are most excited for yet end up disappointed in. That's not to say their games are bad. On the contrary, Tomb Raider won "Best in Show" from multiple publications last year and may just win some more this year. It's just that they never show us the games that hardcore Square fans expect. Don't worry, we will get another Chrono Trigger someday.
SEGA is another wildcard of the E3 show floor. Sometimes they blast off with a title like Sonic Generations or Bayonetta, and other times they bet all their chips on titles like Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing. This year seems to be a combination of both. The aforementioned racing title returns, and SEGA continues to push their Aliens: Colonial Marines title, which seems as if it has been in development forever. There's also Anarchy Reigns, a new action/fighter multiplayer game that made a decent showing last year. However, SEGA is also showing off classic titles like Jet Set Radio Future and Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown. They've also recently revealed The Cave, a Double Fine production that to me feels a lot like The Lost Vikings. There is also an unreleased digital title that will supposedly knock us off our feet. What sort of surprise does SEGA have in store for us?
Konami has their work cut out for them this year. We all want to see what the buzz about Metal Gear Rising is all about, and they have lots of HD Remake bundles coming out—Silent Hill, Zone of the Enders, and, of course, Metal Gear Solid for the Vita. Then there are all these rumors about new Castlevania titles for both the 3DS and HD consoles that we want to receive answers for. Finally, on a personal note, I have hopes that Skullgirls will make an appearance, showing off their latest patch and possible DLC characters.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: May 29, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*