To gamers, E3 is Christmas, and no one really knows if Mom and Dad reads your list until the day finally arrives. E3, Electronic Entertainment Expo, is the annual gathering of gaming industry professionals. For us plebeians, each conference is livestreamed on Youtube. The big three names in gaming: Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo each hold their biggest conferences of the year at E3.
Last year, Sony and Microsoft released their “next gen” consoles, and E3 amounted to a spitting contest between the two, which Sony soundly won. By 2014, Sony boasted 1.2 million more Playstation 4s sold than Microsoft’s Xbox One. Nintendo, having released the Wii U in 2012, to a less than stellar response, was the odd one out. But, the “console wars” of 2013 left a sour taste in the mouths of gamers. Chasing console sales, all three companies seemed to forget to produce good games. This year, all seemed to have learned their lesson. All the conferences this year were answering one question: “What can I play on your console?”
Microsoft’s was the first conference of E3, and they started out with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the successor to the popular Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series, and announced priority timing on Xbox for DLC. A safe opener to what turned out to be an unconventional conference for Microsoft. Along with standard shooters, driving sims, zombie survival and another Assassin’s Creed game, Microsoft had an impressive array of fun and interesting indie games to show off. Scalebound, by Platinum games features an alien world and monster fights alongside your pet dragon. Microsoft seemed excited about Project Spark, which is less a game and more of a set of tools to create games to share online. Microsoft’s conference ran over an hour, in which it almost exclusively announced games. Time will tell if it made gamers interested in buying XBoxes again.
Sony’s conference was all about exclusives. Bungie, the creators of the famous Halo Trilogy for XBox, gave PS4 an exclusive alpha test for its hot project, Destiny. With Destiny, Sony sent a clear message to Microsoft, but since alpha is developer jargon for “still very unfinished,” the message came at the expense of some polish. Next up, The Order: 1886, a shooter set in an alternate-history Victorian era England which Sony has shown off ad nauseum to prove just how pretty violence can be on the Playstation 4. For those not just looking for more polygons in their blood splatters, the conference did announce many potentially interesting exclusives. Entwined, a game about a glowing paper bird and fish duo who use the power of love to transform into a dragon was announced and released on PSN. Grim Fandango the revered point-and-,click adventure is getting an update on the PS4. Sony’s conference wanted to make one thing clear to the players: The experience you will get playing on the Playstation 4 will not be had anywhere else.
Nintendo’s conference was self-assured. The content was what gamers have come to expect. There were announcements of Mario games, Mario spinoffs, new Super Smash Brothers characters, etc. The most exciting moment of the conference was the teaser of a new Legend of Zelda game, featuring an androgynous hero which some thought (erroneously) was Zelda herself. Nintendo announced one original title, Splatoon, in which teams play as human/squid hybrids in an arena, trying to spray each other with bright paint.
Like Christmas, E3 came and went too soon but we have a haul this year! It remains to be seen whether the gamer community prefers their presents from Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo, but gamers are excited by the variety. The big three are hitting their next-gen strides, and things will only heat up from here. E3 2014 had no clear winner. E3 2015 will bring another battle that may shift the tide back in favor of one or another, but in the mean time, there are a hundred battles for the players to win, no matter which console they play on.