Every year, people ask whether E3 is still relevant to the game industry. Yet every year there's an impressive amount of hype around what various companies will show off at E3. Apparently it's still relevant!
Sony Claims to Possess Future of Innovation
Who doesn't love a little Sony PR hyperbole? This year's Sony E3 site claims that the company will be announcing "the future of gameplay and innovation" at the show. Really? The future of all innovation? Impressive, Sony.
In all seriousness, it's hardly worth even speculating on what Sony's referring to here. It could be a surprise PlayStation 4 reveal, or it could just be a slate of predictable software announcements. Not that I blame Sony for pumping up the hype. With PS3 sales dropping and the Vita showing fairly pathetic sales numbers so far, Sony needs to pull out something that will get attention this E3. Even Nintendo's Miyamoto, who isn't known for talking smack, has recently mentioned that the Vita is in dire need of system-selling games. Ouch.
Microsoft Does What Nintendidn't?
One possible star of Microsoft's E3 showing is the Kinect Play Fit system, which will track fitness data across Kinect applications. Along with the tracking software, Microsoft plans to release a heart monitoring accessory, currently codenamed the Joule. The Joule is meant to help track heart rate for exercise purposes, and doesn't have any planned gameplay applications that we've heard of.
E3 watchers will remember that Nintendo announced a similar heart rate monitoring device at E3 a few years ago, but hasn't yet produced it, apparently because it doesn't work up to the company's expectations yet. We assume that if Nintendo ever does produce its own heart rate monitor, it will be doing more with it than simply tracking heart rates for exercise purposes.
Microsoft is holding its main conference before E3 starts this year, and is expected to focus mostly on non-gaming technology such as multimedia applications for Kinect. In other words, this looks like another year during which Microsoft will show up to the Electronics Entertainment Expo with very little that's of primary interest to gamers. It's kind of a shame.
No Nexon EA Buyout
Last week's rumors that Korean MMORPG company Nexon was considering buying EA have been proven false. The two companies were actually in talks to have Nexon distribute FIFA Online 2 in Asia. That's far more realistic than buyout plans, but far less fun to talk about.
Good News for a Change
Let's talk about some good game industry news for a change. Minecraft has just launched on Xbox LIVE Arcade, and is already setting sales records. It has sold more in its first twenty-four hours than any previous LIVE Arcade title. According to Minecraft creator Notch, the port was profitable after being online for an hour. This is exactly why I'm baffled that LEGO has never produced a game that's simply about building things with LEGOs.
More good news comes from Diablo III's corner. Amazon.com reports that Diablo III has the highest number of Amazon pre-orders for a PC game in history. It's also Blizzard's own most pre-ordered game, though Blizzard's numbers include the people who are receiving a free copy of Diablo III in exchange for a year's subscription to World of Warcraft.
This good sales news comes at a time when the NPD numbers, our best publicly available barometer of North American video game sales, report that April software sales are down thirty-two percent from last year. Although I'm sure they're down a bit due to the end-of-generation blahs, I think the NPD is becoming increasingly incapable of tracking the new ways that people are spending money on video games. Just to use April for an example, the numbers we see don't count the funds given to video game Kickstarter projects or the impressive numbers of people who pre-purchased Guild Wars 2. That's on top of the ever-increasing number of digital game sales that the NPD is unable to track. Traditional retail console titles may be in a bit of a slump, but I'd argue that the video gaming scene remains pretty darn vibrant.
Date: May 11, 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.*