I don’t think there was ever a time when games weren’t big business. They always have been, but what seems to have changed recently is the theater of it all. Once a year, everyone from Reggie to that guy from those PlayStation commercials has to get on stage like Iron Man at a science fair and show off their new toy. They pick it up and tell us how much better it is that the last one, then they have fake families come on and pretend to play and show us how happy we will be once we buy the toy. Finally, after a brief appearance from Usher, the Internet analyzes everything to death, divining the future of gaming from an hourlong press conference. It’s bizarre.
But what are we going to do? Between the musical numbers and the celebrity guests stands some real insight into the future of gaming. E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is where we find out a lot of good information and get a number of answers to important questions. For that reason, we have created The Top Eight Gaming Questions We Need Answered at E3. Be warned, gaming companies: if E3 fails to answer these questions, we will speculate rampantly until we all swear off of whatever product you haven’t told us anything about. Tread carefully.
And as always, speculate rampantly in the comments section before these questions are answered. It is fun. Now, without further ado…
8. What does the PlayStation 4 look like?
So apparently everyone gets their own mini-E3 now. The trend seems dumb, especially since none of them made people excited about their console as much as they left people with too many questions and too much time on their hands to argue. Sony showed a handful of games, and even the new controller, but they didn’t show us the actual PS4. It almost seemed like Sony executive Jan Brady had made the console up to compete with Marcia-rosoft but since the console didn’t actually exist, she showed us some vague things it did and some of its accessories but then, would you look at that? We were out of time and we didn’t even meet PS4. Oh well. Maybe next time.
Sony did release some pictures of pieces of the PS4, for some reason. The Internet put a few mock-ups together and one of them is probably pretty close. Sony is sending out emails with a picture of a sheet over a box, so it’s pretty safe to say the PS4 will be shown at E3 and it will be some kind of box thing. I don’t think anybody really cares about the shape because all of the attention has been directed at Microsoft recently (we’ll get to it) but that doesn’t mean that PS4 shouldn’t matter. It is like that nice guy who did everything right, except maybe share too much, but gets no attention because of the bad boy doing donuts in the parking lot.
7. When Will Oculus Rift 2.0 be Available?
Gaming has gone in one direction for a long time. You have a screen that is stationary somewhere in front of you and you move something on that screen by interacting with a controller. This is how Tennis for Two worked on that oscilloscope. This is how BioShock Infinite works today. The screen is still not moving. And why not? My head moves in real life and the guy in the game’s head moves. Yet in the game I move my thumb to move his head. I guess it was just an issue of technology not being caught up to the needs of the games. Well, about that…
The Oculus Rift is the coolest thing that has happened to gaming in a long time. It is a low latency immersion headset that rocks everyone’s world. It even makes getting your head chopped off fun. So why can’t I buy one. I understand. You guys are working out the kinks. That’s fine, but when can I buy it? Just give me a rough estimate. Here’s why: I may buy a console. However, if I can buy an Oculus Rift soon, there is no way I’m going to waste money on a machine that doesn’t work with my fancy new Virtual Boy. So please just give me a day, and I will decide what I’m spending my money on besides alcohol and hot dogs.
6. Are PC or Mobile Games Going To Make a Showing?
The big three have proven that none of them really know what they’re doing. Nintendo has a big dumb controller (we’ll get to it). Microsoft…well, Microsoft…ugh (we’ll get to it). Sony hasn’t even shown us the thing they expect us to buy (we got to it). So with all of the confusion surrounding the frontrunners maybe it is time for a new challenger to enter the ring and make everyone else look even stupider.
There seem to be two candidates ready to dethrone the king. One is PC gaming. Steam could not be more popular due to recent events (we’ll get to it) and Valve has a trove of new games that could easily be the most popular E3 games. A third Half Life, Portal, or Team Fortress would be a huge story and couple that with the fact that the Steambox should be inexpensive and easy to produce and PC games could win for sure.
Mobile Games are also out there, but besides this new Halo Spartan Assault thing, who really cares? Speaking of Halo…
5. Halo 5?
It’s only been a year and Halo 4 is still running smoothly. It was a huge source of revenue for Microsoft and on top of that, it is a great game with tons of replay value. The only problem with replay value is that the game lasts forever and unless you release a new map pack every 30 seconds (which they do anyway) it’s hard to see that revenue continue. That is why a new Call of Duty game that is incredibly similar to the previous one has been released every year since 2006. But Halo isn’t about that. It is about making games that tell interesting stories and which you will play with your friends online for years to come. For example, the first Halo trilogy took seven years to complete. And sure, there have been small games along the way – Halo Wars and whatever Spartan Assault is – but for the most part Halo has taken it’s time to create thought out sequels to it’s mainstream games.
So then why is it that a leaked image points to an XBOne game that is clearly Halo 5? The source seems credible considering the image also leaked the name of Spartan Assault days before it was announced. So what gives, Microsoft? Is this game on the roadmap to come out in a year or two, or is Halo 5 the start of Halo trying to match right up to the CoD franchise by producing a new game daily. If Halo 5 features an “ultra realistic” dog, I’m out.
4. Whatever happened to Illumiroom?
So before we get address the elephant in the room (and I promise we will) I want to get to a smaller question I have about Microsoft. One area where Microsoft seems to excel is in peripherals. Kinect is the industry leader in motion-controlled gaming and that is a big reason for why they continue to dominate console sales. It’s smart. Consoles no longer have the edge on graphics and most games aren’t exclusive to consoles anymore. It seems like these giant corporations like Sony and Microsoft have to develop expensive technologies that can make the gaming experience better because that is all they have left.
So naturally, when a video came online showcasing this cool new Xbox projector thing called the Illumiroom, we were intrigued. It seemed to use a projector to scan the room and make virtually every surface (walls and tables and sleeping cats) into a part of the game. It expands the field of vision beyond the TV screen and it looks like it could be a lot of fun. The problem is besides a few promotional videos, Microsoft hasn’t mentioned anything about it.They are too busy describing features no-one wants (I promise we’ll get to it) instead of using this cool new technology to distract everyone. “You don’t like DRM. You mean D (pronounced ‘the’) RooM? Look over there. Illumiroom is shiny!” Now that is how you do a press conference.
3. When is the South Park RPG Being Released?
This game sounds sick: Jew is a class. You fight crab people. Apparently there is a level where you have to go up someone’s butt. Awesome. South Park can do no wrong. THQ, however, can do some wrong. Earlier this year the developer of this sweet looking game went under and had to give South Park: The Stick of Truth to another company. Ubisoft took THQ’s Stick and everything gamewise still looks good – except we still don’t know when this game is going to be released. Late November is a safe bet, but who’s to say? Just tell us, Ubisoft. Here is what your press conference should sound like.
Matt and Trey walk on stage. “November 19th” Twenty-five minutes of straight applause. Matt and Trey leave. (Them being in crazy outfits is optional.)
We want answers Ubisoft, mmkay? We’re super cereal.
2. How is that stupid Wii U Pad going to fit into Super Smash Bros Universe?
Have you guys ever been playing pickup basketball and your friend wants to play but he isn’t good but he’s your friend so you let him play anyway? You pass him the ball enough so that he feels like he’s contributing but not so much that he could potentially ruin everything. Well that friend is the Wii U gamepad. Wii U still doesn’t seem to know that to do with that giant thing. If you’re playing Mario Bros, the pad makes platforms even though there are already enough platforms to play the game without the additional ones. It’s pretty dumb. Rayman has a similar pointless guy that activates things that were clearly just added to a finished game to give the pad something to do. It had been a year and the Wii U pad hasn’t really added anything to the games it is a part of. It has just been there.
I bring this up because (and I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone) it is pretty widely accepted that Nintendo is unveiling a new Super Smash Brothers game during E3. Masahiro Sakurai is tweeting about it, so get excited. The only question is, how is that big clunky controller going to fit in? Am I going to be the fifth guy whose job it is to spawn items, because that sounds awful. Or are we just going to use it as a glorified menu screen, because that was so difficult in the past? I am hoping Nintendo has an innovative idea for how the pad will fit in. If not, then at least give us a playable Waluigi. Either of this would be acceptable.
1. What the hell is Microsoft going to do?
George R. R. Martin couldn’t have written a better bloodbath that is the week leading up to Microsoft’s Press Conference. In fact, a while ago I made a list of the The Top Ten Nerdy Questions We Hope Will Be Answered in 2013 and the third question was “What will the Next Generation of Gaming Be?”. In it I compared the whole game dilemma to the War of Five Kings in Game of Thrones and wouldn’t you know it, X-Box was the X-Stark 360. And while it clearly should have been MicroStark, the old gods and the new have read that article and this week Microsoft had its own Red Wedding of Death.
If you haven’t seen the news or been on Reddit in the past week, let me catch you up. Basically Microsoft said a bunch of things everybody knew (The console supported DRM, the console had to connect to the internet once a day, the Kinect was always on) then The Guardian published a story about Verizon giving phone records to the Government which brought to light the bigger issue that other companies have been doing this for a while and one of the first was…you guessed it… Microsoft. Now I’m not trying to say that it is a big conspiracy or something. All I am saying is this couldn’t have come at a worse time for Microsoft. Here’s why I still have hope.
This XBOne does not yet exist. They could easily walk back a few of these statements and make everyone feel better about their console. Microsoft is not against changing their products to fit a specific consumer demand. Look at Windows 8. There was no Start button. Everyone got angry. Boom. 8.1 will have a Start button because we asked for it. People have been vocal about what they don’t like about XBOne. I think it is crazy to assume they won’t make a couple of changes. After all, to quote the wise Theon Greyjoy “Don’t look so grim. It’s all just a game.”