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Darren Waters

E3 gets set for gaming

  • Darren Waters
  • 14 Jul 08, 13:30 GMT

Hands up if you've got an Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 or Nintendo Wii?

Man playing WiiThat's a fair few of you.

Now, hands up if you play any games on Facebook, or casual games on your PC, perhaps online gambling, or perhaps a few games on your phone, or on your DS Lite or PSP?

I suspect that there might be a few more of you in that category.

The fact is we like playing games; no, we love playing games. The whole world is busy playing games.

Yet the console manufacturers have not always been successful in tapping this rich interest in gaming.

The Wii has made great strides with family-friendly, social gaming but Sony and Microsoft have traditionally aimed for the hard core gamer.

That could all be about to change at this year's E3. Microsoft, in particular, is expected to spend vast amounts of money rebranding and repositioning the Xbox 360.

As one commentator said to me: "Microsoft want to be seen more like Disney and less like Tarantino."

The Xbox has for too long been seen as the home of Halo, of first person shooters, twitch action gaming, and online death match battles.

Microsoft knows that if it is going to appeal to a broader market, and to gamers in territories like mainland Europe, it needs a softer, more accessible image.

That doesn't mean the hard core gamer will be left out in the cold - Gears of War 2 and the power of Xbox Live are the two biggest weapons in its arsenal.

For PlayStation, Sony needs to move beyond the brand. The firm relied on brand loyalty in the first 12 months of its launch but now it needs to put clear blue water between itself and Xbox.

It has made bigger strides than Microsoft in the social gaming arena - with Buzz, Singstar and Eyetoy - and the firm will be putting more emphasis here too, as well as pushing its exclusive franchises.

Nintendo has the difficult task of pulling the same magic trick twice. It dazzled us with the audacity of the Wii, and has carried off the spoils for the last two years. But is there more depth to the Wii? How long can it rely on puzzle games, or lifestyle games? I hope we find out what Nintendo's peerless in-house studios are up to - because we've heard so little from them.

I'm expecting to see the big firms like EA, Ubisoft and Activision announce titles for the Wii which make great use of its control mechanism, as well as develop the social aspect of gaming further.

We're out at E3 this week, writing for the website and blog, doing on demand video, a bit of radio and some TV. So we've got a big week ahead of us.

So what are the big games of E3? Well, I'll be looking forward to seeing Fallout 3, Left4Dead, Dead Space, Gears of War 2, Fable 2, Killzone 2, LittleBigPlanet, and any first-party Nintendo titles.

And you? What are you hoping to see from E3?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I am really looking for Mirror's Edge from EA, the concept looks fantastic, I hope it can deliver. (By the way, the first gameplay footage had an amazing relaxing music, I hope to learn more about the composer and be able to get this music).

    I'm a big fan of Zelda's game, so I'm looking close if there is a first trailer of an upcoming Zelda. I'm very impatient about any Nintendo's announcement because we haven't heard much from then.

    I'm also very interested in the two new Star Wars game that will be released soon: Force Unleashed and The Clone Wars. It will be really interesting to see if the controls work nicely on the Wii, and we barely know about The Clone Wars, the new Star Wars based on the upcoming movie.

    I'm also very interested in the new Call of Duty, but I do not think it will be as good as CoD4, which was one of the top selling game of this year, simply because it will be hard to achieve a game that is such as good as the previous one.

  • Comment number 2.

    I am a huge Xbox360 fan, but I am very excited about LittleBigPlanet. It is one of the few things that makes me seriously consider buying a PS3.

    I do think Microsoft are going to have difficulties handling their dichotomy though. Selling Gears 2 on one poster and something like Viva Pinata 2 on the other, I think that will get parents confused. They understand that Wii is aimed at families and the living room, and the Xbox 360 is aimed at teenagers to adults who lock themselves away in their bedrooms (I know I do).

    The impression I've got from Microsoft though is family orented but with a Home Entertainment edge through downloadable content and IPTV. Sneaking in through the back door. I wonder how much of this you will see at E3, as well as the highly anticipated FPS'.

  • Comment number 3.

    I heard that Microsoft are going to show off its new add-on peripheral for the Xbox 360 called MSPortal.

    Basically it opens a gateway to a parrallel dimension filled with mini-Bill Gates, and when the portal to this dimention is open loads of them will come through to take over the world.

    Some sceptics however have described two main issues where it sometimes freezes up and may also be susceptible to overheating.

  • Comment number 4.

    I am sure Nintendo will show us Animal Crossing. It's been such a long time now. Other than that, they were really secret. Maybe new software for the balance board? A new hardware again could be possible. Maybe a first trailer for a Zelda 2 on the Wii, coming in a year or even longer. All that is possible.

    Nintendo, surprise me!

  • Comment number 5.

    By the way, Activision said it would take part in E3 but I think Activision is holding its own event on Tuesday. It will be very interesting because of the merger that is giving birth to "Activision Blizzard".

    Darren, you should be looking for "Tom Clansy's EndWar". It's a console RTS game where the player can control the game with his voice. It's a very interesting idea which could bring many more casual gamers to play an RTS game on a console. The real way to find out if it is good is really to try it though, for this kind of innovation.

  • Comment number 6.

    In my opninion, the Wii will go much the same way as the GameCube. It will lose its dominance over the PS3 and 360 but will always hang in the background. It is what it is, a family/party console, and if Nintendo attempt to rebrand it as anything else and detract away from the genre its hooked so successfuly onto, it will likely fall quite far behind.

    Where the Wii may continue to hold its own is in the different way games being sold on the other two consoles can be portrayed. Prime example here is Star Wars: Force Unleashed.

    On the PS3 and 360, Force Unleashed looks graphicaly stunning and is sporting a whole new generation of physics engines. Fantastic and no doubt will be a big hit. However, although the Wii doesn't sport the graphics and probably wont even sport that new physics engine, it DOES allow you to swing a lightsabre around and chop body parts off. That alone is a selling point, right?

    As for what I am personaly looking forward too? Well, no game per-say, I am awaiting to see what rabbit Sony is going to pull out of its head to pick up the pieces of the PSP. I love my PSP, but I'm finding there is so little I can do it lately due to a real lack of games that interest me, that its vastly becoming nothing more than an overly expensive GPS and MP3 player.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi Darren

    what do you make of the shock announcement that Final Fantasy 13, a long held Sony exclusive, has now gone multi platform and will release the same time as the PS3.

    Devastating blow for PS3 fans as it seems Sony find it impossible to hold onto valuable assets like Grand Theft Auto and Final Fantasy.

    Personally i think its a huge blow to the PS brand and a great achievement for Microsoft who seem to be able to deliver the goods to their customers. Although a lot of their E3 presentation was robbed (avatars, singstar like "Lips" and a buzz style trivia game and also an Eye Toy style game) from the PS3 and the Wii.

    Sad day for PS3 owners who are bound to be livid at Sonys inability to deliver. I know personally a lot of FF fans bought a PS3 knowing that FF13 was a solid exclusive, they are now facing the prospect of their game on a console a few hundred pounds cheaper.

    Tomorrow is make or break for Sonys financial outlook for 2008. There just HAS to be big announcement BIG news or im afraid its looking bleak for the PS3.

  • Comment number 8.

    Resident Evil 5 co-opt was showed today and also Fable 2 sort of co-opt. I hear there is more for Gears of War 2, Rise of the Argonauts and Fallout 3. Stay tuned people!

  • Comment number 9.

    @paulmc25,

    If announcing a port from the PS3 is the best MS can do then they are desperate. And losing one big exclusive is hardly going to kill Sony now is it? Anyway, they still have Versus exclusivity and full exclusivity in the strongest (by a mile) FF market: Japan.

    Incidentally, since when is the X-Box a few hundred pounds cheaper than the PS3?

  • Comment number 10.

    The Xbox 360 and PS3 control pads severerly reduce the accuracy and speed of movement in the majority of games. Using the conventional PC keyboard and mouse is still the most effective way to play first person shooters and this is why you will find that PC gaming is far more intense and thrilling.

  • Comment number 11.

    I'd like Sony to finally confirm the release date of PlayTV - announced last Aug, reviewed by this Blog in February and still no confirmed date....!

    Is it only me who finds this frustrating?

  • Comment number 12.

    As a traditional PC man, this years E3 will be the deciding factor for me on the PS3 vs 360 war. I've held off investing in either but will be looking to change that after E3.

    I do have a Wii, but have to be honest and say i havn't used it in about 3 months. It has just lost it's appeal. Perhaps I'll invest time in it again at somepoint, but I know for a fact I am not the only one, with several friends having a redundant white box sat under their telly.

    Still, I have to say I am swaying in Sony's favour and it would take something majorly cool from MS to convince me otherwise.

    And paulmc25, I think your comment is a bit of an overstatement (Non exclusivity is not enough to damage Sony anymore, they already have plenty of other exclusive titles in the bag and forthcoming). In fact do you work for Microsoft? Thats the sort of underhand tactics a Gates follower would use. One of the reasons I turn away from the 360 is the rabidity and agressive impartialness that many 360 owners have shown. It's almost as if they are only interested in the brand and not the gaming that a console can offer.

  • Comment number 13.

    As a so-called 'hard core gamer' I worry that in future fantastic titles like Bioshock, Fallout 3 and Fable 2 simply won't exist as development money goes towards creating mass-appeal fodder where no real skill or time investment is required from the gamer.

    Although the Japanese arguably pioneered family gaming they also have a strong otaku market and hardcore gamers may have to rely on imports in the not too distant future.

  • Comment number 14.

    My main worry as a PC owner is that the emphasis for producing games solely tied to a console in order to shift units is already commonplace. The exlusivity that Sony and Microsoft manage to get for these titles will mean that the PC versions of these titles will continue to be either non exsistant (Crackdown) or delibrately held back until the console versions sales start to dry up (GTA IV) or sub standard ports.
    This didn't bother me so much but now that games for the consoles are starting to join the visual leagues that the PC has enjoyed for so long it's starting to grate that we have to wait for games that in theory could easily have been released on PC at the same time especially as for example GTA IV is being released under 'games for windows' but was on the XBOX 360 months ago but Fallout 3 is out on all formats. I'm sure there are other reasons for staggered releases, coding ect I'm not being unrealistic but I feel that gradually the PC is being sidelined in the constant 360vsPS3 war as though we don't exist as anything more than an after thought and are missing out in a big way in some cases. I felt like a complete outsider during the whole GTA release frenzy.
    Oh well for every GTA IV that we belatedly get there'll be a good couple of Crysis and Stalkers that console gamers will never have the pleasure of enjoying and at least the PC versions don't suffer from having the graphics downgraded as a side effect of the struggling console hardware so it's a two way street. But who knows how the situation will be in 10-20 years time...

  • Comment number 15.

    monkeysuncle

    Statistics show that in the West, PC gaming is dying.

    I don't like PC gaming because of the hassle of installing, the lack of reliability and the constant upgrades required. With a console - you insert disc and off you go.

    I'm prepared to sacrifice cutting edge graphics - although the improvements just from having a PC monitor is certainly impressive (although with HD consoles are overcoming that as well).

    In places like China though it's a different story, as PCs not consoles are the gaming kings.

  • Comment number 16.

    Bloofs

    I couldn't agree more with your point about the ease of use of consoles. I recently picked up a dirt cheap PS2 so I could play god of war 2 and a few other games that never made it to my expensive grey box and I can safely say that it is the most reliable (It's been accidentally yanked off of a table and didn't complain) and easy to use piece of kit i've ever had the pleasure of using. A real breath of fresh air compared to the regular headaches I get from my PC. I can't say anything of the next gen consoles as I haven't played around with them much.

    However, saying that I think there are still some advantages to the PC that I haven't seen come over to the consoles yet but when they do it'll be harder to stay loyal to the PC. The scalability of games for the PC is a god send. My PC won't be at the pinnacle of PC gaming forever and as I slip behind the 'top specs' I can scale games settings back to make them still playable and still keep them pretty. There are also config files, batch files and all sorts of methods of squeezing something extra (in Oblivions case making it better looking than originally) out of an ageing system keeping a game within a respectable fps while still looking gorgeous.
    Also the modding aspect of some games for the PC is sometimes unbelievable when the tools are made available. STALKER for pc is hardly recognisable compared to the unoptimized quirky beast that was released, it was fixed primarily by the community. Depending on what mods you have active Oblivion has all sorts of extras and improvments open to it as does almost every other game around today. Heaven knows what will be about for Fallout 3 or GTA IV this time next year.
    But as I said when the consoles start to enable and embrace this sort of customization to the software then the advantages that PC gamers have enjoyed for so long will make it a harder choice to make between that new £200 graphics card or a whole system/entertainment hub/blue ray player for just £150 more that doesn't complain even half as much and has all the same benefits.

 

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