Now that we can put E3 2014 in the rear view, we thought we'd take a moment to look back at the past week primarily through the lens of the inevitable console wars and rank the performance of the three contenders and their presence at the show. Let's kick this off.
The Best - Sony
Sony came out swinging for E3. You want impressive next gen games? Here’s Destiny, The Order, Dead Island 2, Little Big Planet 3, etc. You like independent games? Well here’s No Man’s Sky, Entwined, Magicka 2. They surprised audiences with the reveal that Grim Fandango is getting re-released which is especially significant considering it’s one of those rare PC titles that’s extremely difficult to play right now. They’re still investing in their virtual reality offering with a few games announced for Project Morpheus due out shortly and unveiled the new Sony TV which basically integrates the Playstation (and it’s library of older titles) into your TV. They piqued our interests with the idea that you can play Far Cry 4 cooperatively even if only one person owns the game. And, of course, they wrapped it up with a completely expected reveal of Uncharted 4.
There’s so much for gamers to like about Sony’s presentation and, for us, they set the high mark this year on how to prove to the press and the public that investing in their console is worth it.
What They Didn’t Say:
Not much. The one notable absence was The Last Guardian but only because it caught headlines the weeks prior due to an erroneous IGN article suggesting it was canceled and Sony’s quick work to deny that rumor. Personally we at the Dojo don’t think we’ll ever see this game but we did get our hopes a bit due to the speculation.
The Next - Microsoft
Microsoft also had a strong showing with many next gen titles like Call of Duty, The Division, and Assassin’s Creed: Unity – although the PR around the last one ran away a bit with the reveal that’s Ubisoft is including cooperative play in the next title. The problem is none of these titles are distinctly Microsoft. Sunset Overdrive seemed to fire the audience up and we’re hopeful that it’s as cleverly funny as it seems to think it is (or at least provide an option to mute the hero). Halo was clearly the star of the show as it should be and while we are thrilled to consider a Halo collection on one disc, we were surprised Halo 5 escaped the show with only a brief mention of a multiplayer beta later this year. Microsoft also ran a quick montage of independent games on the horizon (many of which look quite good) and showed off its Project Spark, its answer to Little Big Planet. We’ll see if there’s enough user community interest in making original content for Project Spark – of course this would be much more interesting if Microsoft introduced revenue split model or monetization opportunity for would be developers.
It’s not to say Microsoft had a bad show, just rather unfocused. Why should be buy the Xbox One over the PS4? Temporary exclusivity for some DLC isn’t a strong enough reason. Both consoles will have basically the same games, but Sony appeared to have a more defined vision for gamers going forward.
What They Didn’t Say:
Sorry for making you buy a Kinect. Seriously, why the hell does this thing exist if you’re not gonna use it? Also we would have loved to see Microsoft spend a bit more time talking about its work with independent developers which really is the gold mine for the console manufacturers right now they need to exploit like Steam is on the PC.
The Worst - Nintendo
DISCLAIMER: We are among the few that own the Wii U and are currently enjoying the hell out of Mario Kart 8. It’s a console full of promise but short on games. We want Nintendo to do well because we want to play more on this thing. Ok, now that that’s out of the way...
Man, this “presentation” was disappointing. We’re a bit stunned not many others are calling it out as they should. Most critics and blogs are thrilled with the Digital Short and the new Zelda seems to be the star of the show despite how brief the experience really was. Seriously, the Wii U has been out for a year and a half now and we’re just now getting around to making a Zelda game for it? We can’t wait for this game to arrive but we all have to hold on at least until sometime next year. Oh, and by the way, Smash Bros. is delayed too. Don’t even ask about the Star Fox game which apparently is so far out that it only exists in blurred form for now.
Nintendo usually produces quality content and we recognize that takes talent and time but in the wake of sluggish console sales and bad press, time is not an abundant resource for them. Perhaps their toy integration with Skylanders will inject some liquidity back in their books (hopefully), but that clearly is aimed at younger gamers. For a game like Splatoon that resembles something we’d stumble upon on the Xbox Live Arcade one afternoon at random to receive so much press, that’s saying something about the utter drought of titles Nintendo can talk about this year – a point made even more apparent as they wrapped up their pre-taped presentation 15 minutes early.
What They Didn’t Say:
This list is almost too long to mention here. Miyamoto simply didn’t address the health based gaming they were reportedly exploring earlier. The virtual console was not mentioned once during the entire show. They spent very little time addressing the necessity for the gamepad in our homes outside of basic UI in Splatoon and apparently Star Fox. Nintendo just seemed more confused about what gamers want right now when they, right now at least, should be laser focused on delivering quality games and defining what gamers want like they did previously with the original Wii.
All in all it was a good show for everyone. There were no bizarre "Massive Damage" or "RIDGE RACER!" moments this year to lampoon and press has been largely positive. To us, Nintendo needed to bring more to the table, especially this year, and Microsoft is being outpaced by Sony. Regardless, we cannot wait to get our hands on a lot of the titles we saw last week so no matter what console appeals to you, it's a good time to be a gamer.