E3: where the world’s media stands up and pays attention to the video game industry. The Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles is without doubt the largest annual convention on the gaming calendar and this year’s event is poised to be the most significant in over half a decade. Next-gen has arrived. The Xbox One and Playstation 4 are out in the public ether and, following Nintendo’s humble omission, three have become two. Sony and Microsoft’s head-to-head rivalry is a battleground that Nintendo have duly stepped away from – instead focusing on a software-centric Nintendo Direct that will last for one hour – leaving the industry heavyweights the freedom of the ring. In 6 days, the bid for gaming supremacy will commence at E3 2013.
We even have the introduction of new, alternative game consoles to contend with in the shape of Valve’s Steam box and the budget-friendly Ouya. Though the former won’t be present at next week’s expo, these two niche products convey just how far E3 has come from centring on the three industry giants and their exclusive skirmish to capture gamers’ imagination. And now, it seems that battle has migrated to the living room as Microsoft look poised to go through with their long gestating plan to take over our living rooms. Those controversial specks of dust have barely settled in the aftermath of the company’s initial reveal of the Xbox One and the hullabaloo surrounding their next-gen mantra has positively irked the core audience. Mind you, most of the criticism levelled at the new console and its powerful yet contentious gaming architecture is understandable. Given the reliance on an internet connection – now stated to be once every 24 hours – and some pernickety, still transient digital rights management, Microsoft have their work cut out for them if they intend to steer public perception back on track.
On the other hand, Sony has managed to retain public mind share regarding the ongoing console war precisely because they left the decision concerning DRM in the hands of the publishers. Industry cornerstones such as Activision, Ubisoft and EA will have the responsibility to/to not (delete as appropriate) implement some form of restriction that forces consumers to validate their gaming purchase online. Although, given that the latter company are scrapping their online pass business model, it’s still unclear how these publishers will execute the now infamous red tape.
Furthermore, mandatory installation is something Sony has maneuvered away from in the press, so the fate of the second-hand market remains extremely precarious at this point in time. In saying that, it seems as though the used game may end up becoming a casualty in the inevitable transition to the digital age – as evidenced by GameStop’s shares dip following May 21st. Regardless, one thing that will survive the forthcoming technological leap is the video game itself, and boy, that’s an area E3 2013 is set to deliver in spades.
Of course, seeing new IPs for the very first time is part of the E3 fun, but as we stand on the cusp of the next era of gaming, let’s recap the most promising confirmed properties and whether or not they deserve our attention.
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