E3 2014 – The Clincher Year

Last E3 was the biggest in recent memory. With Sony and Microsoft bringing the big guns out for their recently revealed consoles, it was certainly a step up from the previous year where the biggest announcement was Ubisoft’s rather underwhelming Watch Dogs. It was critical last year for both players to put all of their cards on the table and convince us to buy their system. Sony won. unequivocally. They had a better vision for what they wanted to present to gamers, and they weren’t dogged down by horribly thought out policies like Microsoft was. As such, Sony has enjoyed a powerful lead in console sales with over 7 million PS4s sold versus the 5 million Xbox One’s shipped. But the console war isn’t over – quite the contrary. Sony’s head start is impressive, but it doesn’t matter anymore. All that matters is what they have next. So today, I want to look at what each company needs to do at E3 in order to better their position in the market.

play_nintendo_at_e3_2014

Microsoft needs the most work, yet they are somehow in a pretty good place  going in. While it’s easy to miss, Microsoft already has a nice slate of exclusives coming down the pipe. Sunset Overdrive and Halo 5: Guardians, both announced at last E3, haven’t come out yet and are garnering a lot of positive press right now. A few exclusive announcements would go a long way in showing how much Microsoft’s machine is turning into an exclusive endeavour. That being said, the recent rumours that Dead Rising 3 may be coming to Steam would ruin that since I wouldn’t trust any of the rest of Microsoft’s games to not follow suit. Nevertheless, Microsoft is in an excellent position already with their exclusives. If they can impress people enough with their games, Sony’s lead may shrink quite a bit.

SunsetOverdriveBut what Microsoft needs to do the most is, in essence, relaunch the Xbox One. Over the last year, they’ve completely turned around on what the system stands for. I’m not even sure what that is anymore. Microsoft needs to lay out their new vision in its entirety so gamers know what they are getting into. Hardcore gamers paid attention to Microsoft’s myriad reversals over the last year – most people didn’t. Therefore, a relaunch seems necessary at this point.

Sony is the front-runner this year and thus has the most to lose. They have the stronger and cheaper hardware (aside from the assuredly more popular Kinectless Xbox One SKU), and they still have a lot of goodwill from the gaming community from last year. What Sony doesn’t have are games – exclusive AAA games to be precise. There are plenty of excellent indie games coming to the PS4, and more than enough multiplatform AAA games. There is, however, a dearth of exclusives at this point. Drive Club and The Order 1886 are not enough to sustain the system. These exclusives don’t need to be launching soon, but they do need to be on the horizon, forcing purchaser’s hands when deciding which system to support.

the-order-1886-21409-1920x1080Aside from that, Sony just has to remember not to be lazy, or, more damningly, cocky due to their success. Cockiness hurt Microsoft last year, and Sony at the launch of the PS3. They need to show the world that they are still hungry, that the 7 million PS4s sold is good, but they are moving on from that success.

It would also be nice if Sony could show us a single new reason to own a Playstation Vita. I, personally, don’t think Sony has any idea what to do with the handheld. It’s great for indie games, but there’s nothing new on the system. It’s a great platform and it deserves a spotlight. Being regulated as a port machine and PS4 companion device isn’t good enough. Give us games, lots of exclusive games to care about and we’ll buy.

And then there’s Nintendo. Big N isn’t having a traditional live show for the second year in a row, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be showing their stuff off at E3. Really, Nintendo has a great opportunity to wow us all. Bayonetta 2 and X are both supposedly set for 2014, yet we know next to nothing about them. A few big trailers could wow the audience, especially for X since its big JRPG competitor, Final Fantasy XV, won’t be around to steal its spotlight. We also haven’t seen anything about Fire Emblem vs. SMT yet, and this would be a great opportunity to showcase that game as well.

bayonetta2_ss_140210_008Nintendo has its exclusives and, truthfully, that’s probably all it has. I’d say that Nintendo has to show us that they are doing well and re-establish good footing with third party developers, but that’s unrealistic at this time. What Nintendo needs to do, therefore, is remind us why they are the king of exclusive games – why you’ll buy their console to play their games. Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario 3D World blow all of Sony and Microsoft’s current gen exclusives out of the water so far. Nintendo needs to remind us about this, and why they are still relevant – if they can.

Aside from the big three, this E3 isn’t too important. Ubisoft and EA will continue churning out the same game year after year with a few new features in to get people excited. Square-Enix will either wow us with something new or completely bow out since they aren’t showing Final Fantasy XV or Kingdom Hearts 3 this year (big mistake in my opinion). Third party developers don’t have to worry. They still have a foothold in last gen for profitability, and nobody is looking at them to provide the big thrills for current gen yet. So they get a pass, generally. There may be some big announcements, but, frankly, they aren’t the ones people are watching.

– Mistranlsations for the Modern Gamer

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