The Game Developers Conference is being held in San Francisco next week, and as the first major video game expo of the year (arriving just a week before PAX East), all eyes are going to be on the Moscone Center to see what gaming's luminaries are talking about. Here are some thoughts on what we think will be happening at the show this year.
Last year, the conference was abuzz with talk about social gaming. Facebook gaming had grown to tens of millions of players, vaulting social gaming companies into the limelight as the most promising companies in the business. Since then, social gaming has lost much of the steam that it once had, and now there are more important new horizons for gaming companies to be exploring.
Well, not all of them are new. The iPhone gaming scene has been reinvigorated over the past year, and we expect to see a lot more talking about that than usual. All manner of companies are making money hand over fist on the App Store, and it's also by far the most enticing platform for indie developers. Platforms like Xbox Live Indie Games have lost much of their momentum, but the iPhone is still proving to be a lucrative venue for garage-developers.
All of that is a lot of boring business talk, though. People like us want to know about the hardcore games. At GDC this year we think EA's Battlefield 3 is going to be pretty tough to miss. The publisher stated many times before it wants the Battlefield franchise to compete one-on-one with Call of Duty, so this big reveal at GDC will probably be huge.
That said, EA doesn't usually offer hands-on time with its big games at trade shows like these. We're guessing that journalists will probably only be getting a demo of the game complete with developers raving about how amazing it is. But still, expect it to be big, and to be honest, expect it to be awesome. EA wants to get back on top of the video game publishing world, and Call of Duty is pretty much Activision's last stronghold in the hardcore gaming sector. If EA can wrestle that away from them, then they will have a really great shot at becoming top dog once more.
The other big name to watch out for is Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. The game debuted last year at E3 2010, but since then we haven't heard a single peep out of Nintendo about the game's development. This could be the event at which Nintendo deems it time to take the wrapper off. Ninty has historically been pretty fond of GDC, preferring the privacy and calm atmosphere to the frenzied halls of E3. Last year at GDC Nintendo announced the release date for Super Mario Galaxy 2, a game we knew very little about at the time.
Now, maybe it's foolish to extrapolate a pattern from that single bit of evidence, but I think we could see something about Skyward Sword next week. Furthermore, after Galaxy 2's release date announcement, it was only another couple of months (May to be specific) that Galaxy was released. Nintendo has adopted a strategy of only talking about games that are finished or very nearly completed. If we start hearing things about Skyward Sword, then we may actually see it release before E3. This wouldn't be all that surprising considering they've been working on the game for five years already, and Nintendo tends to favor non-holiday releases for its major franchises.
There will doubtlessly be tons of things we never even considered could happen, so be sure to keep your eyes and ears tuned to CheatCC for all of our updates coming from GDC 2011. It's sure to be a great show, and we can't wait to hear what all of those brilliant game designers have to say about the state of the industry.
CCC Freelance Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*