Broken Joysticks: E3 Predictions

E3 is almost upon us and like all seasoned gamers we’re excited to see what the big three have in store. We’ve assembled a panel of editors and got their thoughts on what would make this E3 special.  Of course opinions vary as to what each of these companies need to do in order to steal the show.

Below for your consideration, dear readers, are our thoughts and feelings heading into E3 2012. We haven’t seen any behind closed doors presentations, we haven’t played several of the games were about to talk about but that doesn’t mean we aren’t excited. Read along as we share our expectations for one of gaming’s biggest events of the year.

Kirk Williford, Executive Editor

What I want to see at E3:

Nintendo

With rumors suggesting that Sony and Microsoft aren’t talking about their next-generation systems this year, Nintendo is in prime position to steal the show with a full reveal of the Wii-U. I expect to see a release date but I’m not so sure if we’ll be given a price. This time last month I would have stuck by my long-presumed theory that Nintendo would change the name of their console to something more….original, but recent information (and leaks of E3 documents/posters/etc) seems to suggest they’re sticking with the name. Nintendo will reveal in full the Nintendo Network, which I believe will be closer to what gamers have been asking for in terms of online infrastructure on a Nintendo console – but it still won’t be comparable to Xbox Live or PSN. I want to see hardcore games (yes, more than one) aimed at bringing back all of the audiences that Nintendo seemingly left behind with the Wii. Pikmin 3 is confirmed to be at the show, although I would hardly consider that a title aimed at the “hardcore” gaming audience. One huge question mark that I expect to be revealed at the show is Retro Studios’ next title – of which there have been tons of theories and rumors, ranging from anywhere between a Star Fox and Metroid collaboration to a new Zelda title. Either way, it’s gonna be good.

I’d like to see strong third-party support with titles that are unique and show off the power of Nintendo’s two platforms of focus, the Wii-U and the 3DS. After a rather slow start, the 3DS is finally starting to take off, and it’s looking like a star-studded 2013 will continue to help sales. Nintendo seems to strive on keeping it’s handhelds alive almost completely through first-party support with the occasional third-party gem, but I want to see more dedication from big hitters like Square-Enix, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft to create titles for the system that aren’t just spin-offs and cheap cash-ins of console franchises. Nintendo has a lot to prove this year, and with the rumored hardware specs of their new console not being as great as once thought, they’ll have to rely on games aimed at those who actually care about the hardware specs – the hardcore gamers.

Sony

I expect Sony’s conference to be absolutely huge on PS Vita. The handheld may have great hardware but it’s the games that matter – something the Vita is sorely lacking at the moment. I expect to see an announcement of full Playstation Plus integration with the Vita, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a new Final Fantasy title is announced for the platform. I would not be surprised in the least to see a price cut announced for the Vita – especially given all the pack-in deals that various retailers are already running. Rumors are going around that Sony is looking to lock up a purchase of a cloud-gaming service – my bet? Gaikai. They recently said they have a major announcement to make at E3, so these tie together perfectly. Playstation Plus-supported cloud gaming between the PS3 and PS Vita? Yes, please.

For the PS3, I expect EA to show off at least one of Battlefield 3’s expansions, as well as reveal the first footage of NBA Live. I fully expect to see Dead Space 3 shown off during E3, but whether that’ll be at Sony’s presser or at EA’s own is something we’ll have to wait and find out. We’ll definitely be given a lot of information (and probably a live demo) of Bioshock: Infinite, God of War: Ascension and The Last of Us, with the latter being the main focus of the show. There are rumors of a major surprise that Sony is cooking up for their conference that isn’t related to their next-generation console – what that surprise exactly is we’ll just have to wait and see.

Microsoft

Microsoft will continue to plug Kinect integration with upcoming titles such as Halo 4 as much as possible. I expect we’ll see the first footage of Ryse, Crytek’s Kinect title that was announced last year, as well as a release date and a live demo of Fable: The Journey. Microsoft’s show will most likely begin with a live demo of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and will feature Assassin’s Creed 3. Of all of the big three’s conferences, I expect it will be Microsoft’s that we will catch the first glimpse of Grand Theft Auto 5, which will be announced for a Spring 2013 launch. Gearbox will show a new trailer for Borderlands 2, Bethesda will show off Skyrim: Vanguard, Capcom will show Resident Evil 6, and the surprise of the show will be either a new title from Rare, a new Splinter Cell title from Ubisoft, or a teaser (tech demo video) of the what the next generation of Xbox titles will look like.

Microsoft, to me, is in position to have the weakest of the three pressers. Up to this year the Kinect-centered portions of their conferences have been incredibly dull and felt cheesy and forced. They have to announce a lot of new titles that aren’t shooters in order to compete with a strong lineup from Sony, as well as the Wii-U. Expect lots of already announced titles to be shown (including but not limited to the ones listed above) with a few new game announcements.

Andrew Minott, Editor

I’m hoping that Activision will announce if Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm or WOW: Mists of Pandaria are going to be releasing in 2012 (I’d prefer Starcraft, but if I had to put down money I’d say Pandas for Christmas, Starcraft in spring 2013). Also, if EA gives me anything more about Overstrike, I’ll be a happy puppy. I think it would be funny if Respawn just went for the double bluff, and made an announcement that they are continuing to not make an announcement. (I want to know what they’re doing, but I also enjoy shenanigans.)

Rae Michelle Langdon, Editor In Chief

I really feel that this year’s winner of E3 will be determined by the quality of software shown on the show floor and during the press conferences. In the last few years Nintendo has been the E3 darling with the reveal of both the 3DS and WiiU respectively. With Microsoft and Sony both refusing to show off new hardware at this year’s convention the focus must shift to the games.

We’ve known for a while that Microsoft is going to have a bit of a problem when it comes to exclusive games. They’ve really only had three or four big franchises to rely upon during this generation and all of those will be present. We already know that will see the first campaign demo for Halo 4, possibly a reveal trailer for the next Gears of War (which is being produced by People Can Fly), Fable: The Journey is set to return sans Peter Molyneux and a promo for Forza Horizon leaked months ago. This late in the game it’s hard to see Microsoft investing in a new intellectual property, perhaps they’re saving some of the big guns for the launch of the Xbox 720 in 2013?

Nintendo is also in an interesting position, they were once the console darlings with the Wii, but have since fallen out of favor with hard-core gamers. Many analysts have said that the casual crowd is also leaving them, opting for Google’s android and Apple’s IOS devices. Last year Nintendo’s reveal trailer for the WiiU featured several “hard-core games” including DarkSiders II and Aliens Colonial Marines. If Nintendo wants to keep up the momentum that they gained at last year’s E3 they’re going to have to show that third-party support for the WiiU is not a passing fad. In order for them to be contenders for best of show they’re going to have to not only showcase the revised hardware and provide us with concrete launch details but also have an entire stable of third-party software scheduled throughout 2013.

For the first time in a long time I’m actually more excited about Sony’s press conference than any other. In previous years Sony has not wowed me with titles like Gran Turismo 5 or God of War 3 but all of that may change due to four simple words: PlayStation Vita and PlayStation Plus. Many have championed Sony’s first party lineup on the PlayStation 3 but it’s their handhelds that have always earned by respect.

In order for Sony to have a successful E3 I think that they need to make PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Vita appeal to the established Sony fandom. They have already successfully matched Microsoft’s install base on the home console front and now it’s time to catch up with Nintendo’s DS sales machine. By offering a number of free titles on both PlayStation three and PlayStation Vita through PlayStation plus Sony might make the handheld appealing to non early adopters. Hopefully they will raise the price of the service but if the number of games increases I suppose a small increase is to be expected. Sony could also benefit by taking a page from Nintendo’s playbook and dropping the price of the beaded down to $199, a $50 reduction.

On the games front Sony has potentially the strongest lineup for 2012/2013. With games like the Last of Us and a new Sly Cooper expected to make their debut Sony is going to once again show us that they’re not a one trick pony.

On the third-party front there are quite a few games that may stand out from the pack. After having witnessed the demo of the new tomb raider at E3 last year, I think that I just Edios’ project will have to wow us once again, especially since it’s been delayed into 2013. Sadly BioShock Infinite will not be present at the show, leaving room for games like Resident Evil 6 and Metal Gear Solid Revengence to wow us.

Jason Bassett, Community Manager

Well it’s that time again isn’t it? It’s E3 time and it’s time to get excited. This is my christmas. I love when we get to see the latest and greatest that game developers are working on and this year is shaping up to be an epic show. So, what will happen at E3? Well, let me give you my predictions:

Nintendo Will Dominate

We all know that a new console is huge news and with Nintendo, there is no exception. The Wii U will NOT get a name change as Nintendo wants the player to feel like the Wii U console will be it’s own personal space; especially with it’s new controller. The iPad-like controller will give a new personal touch the system that you own. Somebody needs to watch TV? OK, I can play the game on my own screen. One of the most innovative pieces of technology and it’s found another great way to be innovative in terms of usage.

But for Nintendo to truly blow away everyone, they need to have a huge line up of games for the show. They need to show a decent third party showing to supplement their first party titles, which we may see very few of, especially for the Wii U. Nintendo also has to show a good online component. Not a decent, but, an awesome online feature. Friend codes need to go in order for a new personal way to communicate with friends. The Wii U should support all the things that the Sony and Microsoft competitors support and more.

Microsoft will bomb

With the recent news of Smart Glass (their version of Apple’s AirPlay), a confirmed Gears of War 4 and Halo 4, there isn’t much that Microsoft is going to show us. Even the rumors are a bore. There isn’t one thing that I am looking forward too and one thing that impresses me. However, the lack of items on the list makes me suspicious of what Microsoft is truly planning. If they’re really sticking to not showing a new console this E3. I expect the standard Microsoft fanfare and a lot more Kinect activity. It’s nice to see Microsoft looking on all fronts of the industry, but nothing they do will WOW this year.

Truly Unreal

This year will be a big year for technology in the industry. We already have the Wii U and this year, we will be seeing Unreal 4. This is big, because most of the great games we have had this generation have been using the engine that the folks at Epic have done. I have been real excited seeing the new technology and graphics their new engine seem to have and it’s one that I will be looking for when the time comes. There also have been some funny tweets that the Unreal guys are saying. Geoff Keighly as sly as he is, almost teased a Wii U showing of one of the games that Epic mentioned.

Will Wii U get Unreal 4? I can’t answer that, because I don’t know. Personally, I wouldn’t get too many hopes up for any unveiling of which systems will get Unreal 4, but you can but your bottom dollar that one of them will be PC.

What about Sony?

You may not think it, but I expect Sony to have a good year this year. Their Vita, while selling poorly is pumping out some fantastic games, like Super Stardust Delta and Uncharted. We still have great games like Gravity Rush, but what else is on the horizon? I wouldn’t expect to see any new console, but don’t be surprised about some new first party titles that will be game changers. I would expect their conference to be very PS Vita heavy. Why not? The Vita is a very poweful and capable device and I’m itching to see more along the lines of third party titles and new ways to play.

If you’ve made it this far you’ve reached the end of our productions. Do you think that anything we’ve just guessed will come to pass? if you’re reading this after the big three press conferences let us know how we did in the comments below. We always like to hear what our readers think, even if it is some crazy out there prediction!

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