E3 2013 Preview: Three consoles with three unique obstacles, what to expect
Tomorrow is the center of the video-game journalism, everything that is shown or announced tomorrow will determine the hot-topic that we will be covering for the next year, and possibly longer.
Every 5-10 years though a very special E3 falls into place, this is one of those years. Both Sony and Microsoft will be detailing their new consoles, setting a price and naming their launch titles. Nintendo has bowed-out of the keynote speeches this year, having debuted its Nintendo Wii U console last year at E3. Nintendo will still be holding events and making announcements at this year’s event, despite not holding a traditional keynote address.
Each of the three console developers are faced with very unique challenges this year, some brought on by themselves, some that have built up over the course of their previous generation’s lifespan.
Microsoft: The Xbox One
Microsoft’s challenge is put games first at E3 2013. When Microsoft debuted the Xbox One this past May, fans were more than taken aback by the company’s complete lack of titles or gameplay mechanics that will be coming with the Xbox One. The new Xbox is being centered around the device’s ability to become you one-stop destination for all things entertaining. At E3 however, people want games.
The other problem that Microsoft faces is it’s very confusing, and purposefully hidden, online component. For months leading up to the Xbox One’s reveal, rumors swirled around the console not allowing players to play used games, or being a charged a fee if they did so. Microsoft did nothing at the reveal to quiet this rumors, only leading to broader speculation. When controversy reached a boiling point, Microsoft was forced to release details regarding their online requirements and used games policy. It was finally revealed on Xbox Wire that the, “Xbox One you can game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary console, or one hour if you are logged on to a separate console accessing your library.” Xbox Wire also stated, “Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.” Used games can be bought and sold, from a reseller that will be included in Microsoft’s ‘used game program,’ an idea that has many Xbox players upset.
What you can expect from Microsoft is AAA title announcements, and don’t be surprised if tomorrow you hear about the next Halo title. Microsoft will also push it’s exclusivity market on DLC, with titles like EA, Call of Duty and others. Xbox Smartglass should make another appearance at E3, as will the multimedia, Kinect 2 and music features.
Sony: The PS4
Sony is om the almost complete opposite side of the problem-spectrum. Sony had no issue discussing and announcing games at the company’s debut of the PS4. In the past a limited architecture, a constant RAM issue and their alien developer software plagued the PS3 since it launched. Sony did quell a few of these worries at the debut event of the PS4, promising a better architecture, a gigantic increase in RAM and new social features for its consumer base. Sony’s problem is connectivity, Sony needs to become more universal and allow users to access content on any device. The PS4 needs to work with tablets, smartphones, laptops and the internet in ways the PS3 never could, but also more than people have come to expect. The fact that North American PSN users can’t access, communicate with, or really deeply interact with their PSN profiles (or talk to their PSN friends) on regular devices is archaic. The PS3 was one of the leading Blue-ray players in all of the world, it helped usher in Blue-ray itself. So what app can you use on your iPhone, Tablet or smartphone to use or interact with the Blue-ray player on the PS3? Sony hasn’t made one. Sony did release an iOS app on June 3 that is expected to work on the PS4 when it is announced, hopefully we will see that change.
What you can expect from Sony is a lot of new, exclusive titles. You will hear more about PS Vita and the remote-play function. You will see more interaction with the store, and improvements to PSN+. There may be a PS Vita price-cut in the future, as well as a price-cut on the PS3 but that won’t be announced until tomorrow.
Nintendo: The Wii U
It seems that there is a curse in next generation consoles, just like Sony during the PS3 and Xbox 360 race, Nintendo’s decision to leap ahead of other consoles may not have panned out the way the manufacturer had hoped. Nintendo has the burden of pushing the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U, but more often than not the Nintendo 3DS seems to be stealing the spotlight more than the console.
Nintendo promised a new era of Wii titles with the Wii U, new hardcore and family friendly titles that will appease any household. The problem is, that the Wii U has only been playing catchup this whole time. It released games like ‘Batman: Arkham City’ and ‘Mass Effect 3’ at launch, games that had already been on the market for months at that time. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 was planned for the Wii U but it was also already coming out on Xbox 360 and PS3, which more than likely the target demographic already had. All of the exclusive titles were aimed at a younger audience, and that’s fine but it cemented the Wii U’s reputation as a younger audience console that once again couldn’t appease hardcore gamers.
The Wii U needs to launch an entire series of exclusive titles, games that you can’t play anywhere else but on the Wii U. The Wii U software was slow, quirky and a problem at launch, but it seems Nintendo is finally getting on top of that problem. You can expect to hear more Nintendo 3DS titles from Nintendo and probably one or two major games coming to the Wii U this fall or next.
In the end each console needs to prove to gamers that it has overcome it’s previous weaknesses, and that the developers listened to fans and consumers and are ready to move forward into the new generation.