Friday, 13 June 2014

Episode 39: E3 2014

    So the Electronics Entertainment Expo (world's biggest annual video game press conference) held earlier this week, and as an aspiring game developer, that has been the highlight of my month (not the world cup). I'll post my thoughts on everything that was shown as soon as possible, but I have to finish watching the hours of video coverage the three day conference generated first, so if you're interested in games, watch this space!
       E3 kicked off with Microsoft's press conference, and then EA, Ubisoft and Sony in that order. Nintendo went last but they didn't have a press conference like everyone else. They didn't stand on stage and make their presentations. Instead, they aired a prerendered video. After these presentations, there were booths around the Nokia event center where attendees could play demos of some of the games shown off, and there were some closed room demos where developers would show off some gameplay to the video game journalists without allowing them to take any video coverage. For such games, those of us who didn't attend the conference can't watch gameplay videos online. All we can do is read articles written by those who saw the gameplay.
       Again, Nintendo chose a different path. They got their Treehouse teams, the people who work with the Japanese developers to translate a game to English, to sit with the developers as they showed off extended demos of the games. A rep would interview the developers who were showing extended demos of the games, and stream it all llive on the Internet. For each game, those of us who didn't attend the conference could just watch all of the coverage as if we were actually there. A lot of people are saying that it was such a good idea that Microsoft and Sony should copy it at next year's expo. 
        E3 is meant to be a showcase of the games that will be released soon by each company, but overtime, it has changed into a competition in itself. Nowadays, companies show games that might still be two years away from completion, and try to spice up their presentation with jokes, celebrity performances and demos that are better than the final product. Sony and Microsoft irritated me with the way they're handling AAA multiplatform games. AAA games are like blockbuster movies. They may not nessecarilly be superb, but they're big budget and will typically sell millions. Last generation, multiplatform games were almost identical on the PS3 and Xbox360 (slightly better online on Xbox, slightly better graphics on PS3) but this gen, Sony and Microsoft have made exclusive deals with AAA game publishers. Some features of a game will be available first on one console before coming out on the other console (when sales might have slowed down) while some features of some games are completely exclusive to one console and won't be on the other console. So I can't buy a PS4 and enjoy all that a game like Call of Duty has to offer because some features are exclusive to XBox One, and it's not because the PS4 hardware can't handle those features. They know that after the conference, gamers and journalists alike will start forums on the Internet and write articles with the title "who won E3 this year?". 

       To answer that question, I'll say that apart from EA, everyone had good shows this year, so there was no clear "winner". It boils down to one's personal taste. Microsoft showed off nothing but games this year. They didn't talk about a single non-gaming feature of the XBox One. It was a sort of apology for last year's conference where gamers felt the company had really betrayed them with all it's DRM and focus on non-gaming features. EA showed off one or two exciting games, then a plethora of sports games. Unless you're a total sports nut, you'll get bored after seeing FIFA 15, NFL 15, EA Sports UFC, Golf, American Football and so on all in the same one presentation. Ubisoft had the best presentation last year, so it was really hard to top their 2013 show. They still had a good performance, with African American comedian Aisha Tyler anchoring their show for the third year in a row, and she wasn't afraid to curse and crack adult jokes. Sony had the best show in terms of content, but their presentation was poor. They showed off too many CGI (Computer Generated Images) trailers without showing much gameplay. One has to make the extra effort of reading articles written by attendees who saw closed door demos of such games. They also showed some non-gaming related stuff, such as a live-action series coming to Playstation Network. Gamers don't care about such things that much. Nintendo started off with a video of Satoru Iwata (the President) and Reggie Fils-Aime (Nintendo of America President) fighting with the exaggerated special effects expected from anime, which transitioned into a presentation of a fighting game they are working on. You'll get excited watching a presentation start that way. This tongue-in-cheek approach remained throughout the rest of their video. Nintendo showed off the typical family friendly games they are known for, but still had a handful of the more mature games that older gamers crave. 
Microsoft kicked off E3 2014

Playstation Now streaming service coming to PS3, PS4, Vita and some Sony Bravia TVs

Iwata vs Reggie
    Independent Game Developers had a bigger presence this year than any previous E3 in history. That's good for upcoming independent devs like me.
I will write a more detailed article with links to videos and articles for the gamers amongst my readers to go through later, but for those who don't have the time, this is a summary. It was a very good E3, and most people think Nintendo won because they showed off the most in terms of actual gameplay, and most attendees spent a lot of time at the Nintendo booths. However, Sony actually had the best content, so it's up to you to decide whose offerings interest you the most. If you couldn't care less about video games and you've read up to this point, you're either really bored, or you care more about games than you think. In that case, look forward to reading my detailed review of E3 2014. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice to know Nintendo still stood tall despite not releasing a new consol.

    And nice insightful review.


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