E3 2013 will do gown as one of the most interesting case studies in corporate maneuvering in the history of the videogame business. The day started with mountains of fan excitement. People had gathered their information and drizzled their speculation sprinkles on top, waiting for Microsoft and Sony to show their wares. For the less initiated, E3 is the Super Bowl for gamers; or better yet our yearly World’s Fair. The place in which we get to hopefully have the “World of Tommorrow” moments that will show us what our favorite hobby will look and feel like in the years to come.
Day one of E3 provided many of those moments, both forgettable and not, leaving everyone in the gaming world abuzz with excitement and some wanting a way-back machine to recompose and rethink.
Microsoft, after coming off a three week public relations beatdown by gamers and press, had a lot to prove. Their restrictive DRM, online check-ins, and inability to share or purchase used games brought out all daggers and pitchforks from the community. The promise of games was supposed to satiate most and squelch some of the fires set at the last press conference. However, they lost so much good will with their backward thinking that I don’t know if anything but a complete reversal of policy would have made people forgive their past misstep. To their credit, Microsoft showed some damn awesome games. Metal Gear 5: The Phantom Pain and Quantum Break showed where the system wants to go with their future: big, robust titles that will show the power of the Xbox One.
Microsoft took some interesting risks as well with the games like Project Spark and Below. Both in my opinion reached out to that Indie-gamer base that the Xbox was sorely lacking in the current gen.
One of the bigger surprises of the night for them was the huge deal they inked with Twitch TV. Millions of gamers watch and interact with streamers on a daily basis. Being able to stream directly from your XO will be an amazing feature that many would-be stars will take advantage of. It will also be interesting to see if those who already have big followings on Twitch will be able to cash in somehow.
All that being said, the star of the show for Microsoft was TitanFall from Respawn. An immersive futuristic Call of Duty-esque game with the mech warfare included. Nimble “pilots” wall run and jetpack their ways around the battlefield while racking up XP points. The game looked fast, fluid, and extraordinarily fun. With the gameplay they showed, they gave folks a reason to buy their box–and then most of the good will was sucked out of the room when they dropped their $499 price tag.
Hesitant cheers filled the room when the number was spoken, and even slight groans could be heard in the background. I think even with all the bad news surrounding the XO, people could still see what the future held and were starting to rethink their position, but that price seemed to remove most of the benefits they showed during the conference. Or at least made die-hard Xbox fans willing to wait to see what Sony had to offer later that night.
Overall, Microsoft had a really good conference. The lack of apology for not listening to the fans in any way would have gone a long way toward rebuilding faith that the company wanted gamers to be happy. The lack of post-conference press questioning and no follow up left a bad taste in the mouths of many and set the stage for Sony to steal the night.
Sony had been waiting in the wings for awhile, and going last during the conference day would absolutely play into their favor. Microsoft had shown their hands and Sony could maneuver and adapt to the messaging provided by their rival. They started the ball rolling albeit slowly by setting the stage with PS3 and Vita software. Although many gamers are chomping at the bit to get to next-gen. Sony showed that there are some quality games coming down the pipe until the end of the year. Critically-acclaimed games like “The Last of Us” still bring about oohs and ahhs but people really wanted the new stuff.
A couple of minutes later the PS4 was revealed: a two-toned slanted box. An Xbox One with a methadone-addict lean. As you can see I’m not a fan of the design and think they went safe but I guess in the end the box’s looks don’t matter. What you can play on that box does and they showed some great upcoming titles like “The Order”, “infamous: Second Son” and many Indie titles that I’ll go into more detail in my “On My Radar” posts coming this week.
PS4’s biggest showing was Bungie’s game Destiny, the game looks gorgeous with expansive worlds. Awesome weapons and gameplay situations called “Public Events” that will add to experience by gathering large groups of players to take on community-timed challenges or enemies. The way it was implemented looked amazing and made me want that game now. Knowing Bungie’s background and ten year commitment, I think gamers on all platforms are in for a surprise.
Lots of great content was shown but the bombshells that everyone was waiting for were about to be dropped. Sony had been eerily quiet on the used game front especially after Microsoft went whole hog on the game lock-down stance. Rumors abounded that Sony would adopt the same policy of letting the publishers determine how used games would be dealt with and online connectivity “check-ins”. And with one fell swoop, Jack Trenton changed the landscape of the next gen universe by confirming that the PS4 wouldn’t adopt ANY of those previously discussed programs or policies. For good measure, Sony threw in a snarky instructional video showing how to share your games on the new system.
That wasn’t the final straw: a price tag of $399 garnered cheers and howls from the crowd and left many people slack-jawed that Sony undercut Microsoft by a full hundred dollars with the kind of hardware they were pushing. Social media streams blew up, people claimed new alliances with the PS4 and others deemed the XO DOA right out of the gate.
It was an interesting spectacle on many fronts. You don’t really see things like this from entertainment companies, especially during conferences held that closely together. It was refreshing, though, to see one company listen to its most ardent fans and–at least for that night–seem to understand what those consumers really wanted.
Huge kudos go out to the Sony team for being adaptive and not doubling down on stupid.
Some things you might have missed
- Your Xbox live subscription will carry over onto the XO
- An XO “Day One” sku will have a “Day One Achievement Code” and special controller
- No more MS Points, you can use real currency from your region
- XO will be released in November and you can preorder on Amazon now
- Kinect Sports Rivals will be a launch title
- Crimson Dragon will have Synchronous and Asynchronous gameplay.
- PS+ will carry over to your PS4 and Drive Club will be free to members
- You will need a PS+ subscription to play multiplayer games
- The system will come with a 500GB HD and you can swap it out for a bigger one
- A new headset will be available at or close to launch
Whew!! As you can see, the amount of information coming out is fast and furious, but I am on the case trying to bring you the most up-to-date information. Be sure to check out the “On My Radar” features this week, when we go more in-depth with some of the games from the show. Lots of trailers and thoughts coming so stick with us and let me know what questions you have. Tag your questions with #TSPe3!
With next-gen gaming coming around the corner, I took some inventory of what I could possibly trade in (while that is still a thing) towards either a new console or some of the awesome games coming out this week. So I checked out Gamestop’s website and found something that really surprised me.
You can now trade in your RROD (Red-Ring-Of-Death) Xbox for trade-in value or cash. I’m not sure when they started this practice but I think it’s a great idea. Although I am not a fan of the price gouging they employ I do think they do serve a purpose for the budgeting gamer.
There are some caveats like the trade needing to go towards a new game or preorder and “Trades must be in full working condition to receive full value” (But you just said to bring in my broken console…..) But I think it’s a sweet deal for anyone with a bricked console just lying around collecting dust or cigarette butts.
Also I just called a couple of local Gamestops and they have a deal ending tomorrow (sorry) in which you can snag an extra 30% of credit, so get going!!
If you haven’t’ gotten enough of Bioshock Infinite’s sights and sounds you can snag some really cool ringtones for your phone today.
Along with a bunch of cool swag Irrational Games posted some sound files from various things in the game. My favorite is the Salt Machine one.
Check out them all out here:
It looks as if the Indie game movement is saving us again from what could be an anemic spring/summer release schedule. Drinkbox Studios comes to the rescue with its wonderfully done Luchador-themed brawler, Guacamelee. The game exhibits lots of flair while being extremely accessible — it provides MetroidVania veterans a challenge, while giving newbies an opportunity to embrace the genre.
The main character of the story is a lowly farmer named Juan, who finds himself confronted by a demon in skeleton form. This mysterious creature grabs your would-be love interest, kills you, then skitters away to complete his plan of world-ending domination. While in the afterlife, you are met by a female luchador who bestows upon you a magical mask that both brings you back to life and imbues you with the strength and speed of ten Koko B. Ware‘s.
You can tell by the cadence and snark-laden story that the folks at Drinkbox have really hit their stride when spinning a comedic yarn. The jokes are funny, the memes timely, and gaming callbacks just numerous enough to not be overdone. You can tell that they love games and love having a good time; that they appreciate traditions without taking themselves too seriously. This light and airy feel is evident within the art style as well. Guacamelee taps into Mexican folk art themes and Day of the Dead lore, jumping easily between the worlds of the living and the dead. A cartoonish Mexican town is your playground, laced with beautiful earthy tones with huge splashes of neon pastels around every corner. I played the game mostly on my Vita, but when I transitioned to the PS3 via my cross-save (more on this later) the colors jumped off the screen. Along with the gorgeous graphics comes a fun soundtrack that blares mariachi and electronic music that really fits the aesthetic and ties the package together nicely. The game feels like a lighthearted homage to old-school Mexico, with a layer of modern self-effacing humor on top.
Guacamelee’s combat is mostly of the combo/brawler style. Later in the game you meet a recurring character that gives you more wrestling moves to add to your arsenal. The interactions with him are some of the best in the game and provide a small shout out to Metroid along the way. The controls are easy to pick up and provide all the tools you’ll need to dispatch of the enemies once they get bigger and stronger.
The game wraps in about six hours but felt just right. It will take you longer depending on how completion-ist you are or how long it may take to get through some of the trickier platforming levels. Boss encounters are really well done and challenging. Interactions with the town’s people provide fun and silly side quests that don’t feel tedious, and if you wish you can even play with two people on the PS3
For a $15 price tag ($12 if you are a Playstation Plus member) you get a wonderful experience chock full of dopeness. I honestly think if you’ve been looking for a game that is great for pick-up-and-play purposes, you can’t really beat this one.
Kudos to Sony
Besides the awesome game and reasonable price tag, there are a couple of other things of note with this package. Some months ago Sony started rolling out some games under their “Cross-Buy” banner. So if you owned a PS3 and a Vita you could basically get the game on both systems at one price. Guacamelee is one of those games. Usually with a feature like this, the cross-save feature is implemented sloppily or in a convoluted way within the game. But Drinkbox does this simply and eloquently. Navigate through a couple of screens, upload your save, head to your home console, download and you are playing where you left off.
If this is a glimpse of what Sony was taking about with the connectivity between the PS4 and Vita, then I’m sold. It works extremely well and made me love the game as a commuter. One other added bonus is “Cross-Control”: you can also use the Vita as a second controller via Remote Play! The Vita’s screen becomes the games mini-map while you control the game you see on the television.
I love stuff like this and thought it was an awesome addition to the game. If you’d like some instructions on how to get this up and running check out the blog post on the Guacamelee site
The Champ is Here
After finishing the game I totally understand why there were long lines and lots of smiles to be seen coming from the Guacamelee station at IndieCadeEast this year. I wondered what all the commotion was about and now I get it. Beautiful games that provide nothing but fun should give people that kind of reaction. If you are tired of trudging through another shooter or sequel, you need to play and share Guacamelee with everyone you can.
Media Molecule’s next project is coming to a Playstation Vita near you on October 22. Tearaway’s papercraft art style, innovative touch control features and whimsical story will try to resurrect the struggling handheld and give folks a reason to care again before the launch of the PS4. I for one loved what I’ve seen so far and with MM’s track record, I am sure they will make a delightful and fun game.
They dropped some cool tidbits that you should check out here