Gamers go to E3
For those that anticipate and love the world of video games, there is no better time or place than E3. A yearly event attended by game enthusiasts and industry insiders, E3 is a showcase for the future of gaming and the rapidly advancing technology that is taking us there.
I am David Jarrick, a senior manager at Deloitte, advancing our firms efforts in Digital Innovation. I hope you enjoy this post.
I am also a gamer at heart, and while I play significantly less than my younger days, I still keep close to the progression of this industry as much as i can. This is a simple account of my E3 experience, my 7th show as I recall. While it is most certainly hard, especially when taking a journalist view of the conference to have time to play a lot of games, but as you can see I managed to have just a wee bit of fun.
Game and Publisher Highlights
BETHESDA GAMES One of the most eagerly anticipated games was Fallout 4 from now mega-indie publisher Betheseda Games. From the demos i witnessed and 4+ hour lines for gameplay I would have to agree. Fallout 4 created a massive universe set with pinpoint accuracy in the city of Boston, with spectacular graphics and unlimited opportunities to play out missions. Plus one of the primary characters is a dog. Fallout 4, following the theme of many other titles in enabling players to create their own worlds and play in them. “Player freedom remains our absolute number one goal,” (Heard at Fallout 4 demo) — See video for much more
Also of note on the Bethesda front, they have made an additional push into mobile gaming with what appeared to be a very well developed mobile companion game. Fallout Shelter, which has already risen to #1 in the iOS app store as the current top grossing game (surpassing Candy Crush)
ELECTRONIC ARTS — Always one of the most popular exhibits comes from Electronic Arts, home of EA Sports powerful franchises including Madden 2016, FIFA 2016 and many others. Each in the franchise looked fantastic as usual, however I was particularly enthralled with the amazing work that has been put into Plants V Zombies 2 Garden Warfare. EA pulled out all of the stops here and this is a game that will clearly have mass appeal. Building on the massive success of the PvZ mobile game, PvZ 2 is a complete redesign, filled with open and endless gameplay, tremendous characters, a full story line, while still maintaining the roots of the cult classic which had been downloaded more than 100 million times.
NINTENDO — Always one of the most anticipated (and massive) exhibits at E3 comes from Nintendo, originators of many of the most legendary of gaming icons such as Super Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Zelda and many more.
Appealing to a different crowd than the hardcore gamers, Nintendo has a universal appeal of fun, open worlds, and friendly battles with familiar characters. Nintendo’s largest show stopper this year is clearly Super Mario Maker — an open world Super Mario game with 8-bit roots allowing creators playing the game in real time to design their own levels and worlds that can be played by anyone in the world via online multiplayer. Creativity amongst players is a key theme at 2015 E3, and this already is proving to be a hit with the Nintendo loyalists. Additionally, Nintendo debuted new releases to its classic lineup with reboots of Super Smash Brothers, Starfox and Legend of Zelda
ACTIVISION BLIZZARD — Also with a slate of new titles and impressive franchise reboots, Activision once again had 2+ hour lines from legions of fans hoping to get in on the action. As a longtime fan of Guitar Hero, I was particularly excited for its long awaited return which did not disappoint. The Guitar Hero Live stage was a full blown Rock event, complete with groupies, stage managers, hype men, gamers, and fans.
As for the remainder of the Activision titles, I found that Eric Hirshberg, CEO Activision Publishing said best in his keynote that: “This slate is built on innovation, creativity and quality, so it was an easy choice to deliver a fully hands-on experience this year at E3,” s “Call of Duty: Black Ops IIIpushes the most played series in Call of Duty history to a new level;
Skylanders SuperChargers delivers a completely new way to play the most popular kids game on the planet; Destiny: The Taken King adds an entirely new saga to the #1 top-selling new video game IP of 2014 in North America and Europe*, and Guitar Hero Live brings the iconic franchise back to a new generation of players with breakthrough innovation. And there’s no better way to show people what we’re talking about than to let them play.”
SONY ENTERTAINMENT — Of course the PS4 was omnipresent at most all of the large publisher exhibits, however on the production side, they launched a few impressive titles of their own. A personal favorite has to be the launch of Street Fighter V, a complete reboot that will certainly have hardcore fans lining up for competitive play.
I probably played Street Fighter II in high school more than any time in history and still have fond memories of these days. The new version is nothing shy of awesome — this i will purchase when released in 2016. Some other impressive title launches include a new version of the popular franchise Hitman, Horizon Zero Dawn (a new franchise from maker of popular series Killzone),
and The Last Guardian, a highly anticipated game that has been in the works for more than 6 years. The Last Guardian features a friendship between a boy and his dog, solving puzzles together in a crumbling world. People were very excited about this coming PS4 exclusive release
VIRTUAL and AUGMENTED REALITY — One of the major themes both in gaming as well as in other technology arenas has to be the rise of Virtual Reality. Judging by the 3+ hour lines for just a 5 minute glimpse of the new Oculus Rift, this is very likely the beginning of a major evolution in the way we consume media as well as gaming. The first consumer version of the Oculus Rift wil be available for purchase in Spring of 2016, and this expects to be one of the most anticipated releases of all time.
Less discussed but equally gaining momentum would have to be Sony’s VR device known as Project Morpheus. While i have yet to experience Morpheus, they have a strong advantage in the content space as a result of the sheer number of published titles, that as the device develops, they aim to be a major player.
The 3rd key player to emerge in the VR space comes from Microsoft in the form of their new HoloLens VR goggles. I did not see the HoloLens in action, the Minecraft demo (below) looks nothing short of groundbreaking. Look for more from Microsoft as the they continue to develop XBOX games using the HoloLens
THE RISE OF STREAMING AND GAMERS AS VOYEURS
Another major theme that has taken the video game world by storm that was omnipresent at this year’s E3 is the rise of online streaming of games for people to watch around the world. The technology to enable this streaming has become as simple as adding a camera and microphone to a PC, iPad or console device, and puts a viewer right into the particular game as a spectator.
This has enabled an entirely new community of people to immerse themselves into the video game culture, giving exposure to unlimited number of games, without the need to purchase a game, or even a system. This has led to a massive rise in streaming and popularity of games that lend themselves to outside viewers, such as first person shooters and competitive team battle games such as League of Legends. It is not out of the question to see video game special events with live streaming viewership into the millions of people.
The largest player in the streaming area at the moment is Twitch (part of Amazon), though other similar networks are gaining traction as well, notably YouTube, which launched a video game streaming section this year at E3. Twitch has over 100M monthly unique views and the growth in this space is just beginning. Look for this category to explode, as competitive gaming continues to elevate as a spectator sport.
LICENSED GAMING — Certainly a notable theme at E3 is the volume of games published on the heels of successful film, television, and other media franchises. While this has been a longtime gaming trend, what struck me this year was both the level of investment in development and the quality of the game titles. The type of games that appeal to both fans of the franchise but also good enough for players with no knowledge or allegience.
Two showstoppers in this category have to be Disney Infinity (Disney) and Star Wars Battlefront (EA). Disney Infinty is a growing franchise that puts Disney, Marvel, Star Wars and other popular characters in an open world to play create and fight together. It was not uncommon on the show demos to see the Incredible Hulk, Luke Skywalker, and Iron Man exploring together. As for Star Wars Battlefront, this is a team battle experience (in the spirit of Call of Duty type action) but involving all facets of the Star Wars Universe. Battles take place in recreated Star Wars worlds with familiar characters and equipment from the universally popular franchise.
I couldn’t even get near the Battlefront exhibit due to it hitting capacity. The gentlemen above made sure of that. Here are a few more examples of licensed titles.
MOBILE GAMING — (Or lack thereof) — I will have to say that each year at E3 i expect to see a rise in the amount of coverage dedicated to mobile gaming but I again walked away disappointed in this all important category. While not to say it didnt exist, mobile takes a backseat to the console gaming world at E3. There were however a few highlights, such as the aforementioned Fallout Shelter, Final Fantasy VII ported to iOS devices, and a number of licensed games such as Minions (EA), Laura Croft Go,
and Kingdom Hearts Unchained (Square Enix/ Disney). I am hoping that next year E3 places more emphasis on mobile gaming, but not holding my breath.
As technology rapidly evolves, so does the opportunity to push the boundries of the physical and video game worlds. E3 featured many different ways these lines are being blurred both in virtual reality, but also in other immersing ways such as movement tracking, instrumental precision, simulated flying and driving.
Popular game titles such as “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero Live” saw very exciting franchise reboots that essentially simulate the musical experience. In the next few years as more of these devices become mainstream, it may be hard to imagine the days when we played games outside of these new environments.
Hopefully you have enjoyed this short journey through E3 2015 in Los Angeles, California. It is most certainly an exciting time in the video game industry and the future is very bright. This year you could really feel the innovation in the air, more so than in year’s past. New technology has broadened the possibilities for new creation as well as the advancement of popular franchises to reinvent themselves in extraordinary new ways. See you in 2016. Leaving with a few more links and pics if you are still with me. Cheers.
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