Tag Archives: E3

Things that most intrigued me from E3 this year.

Well, another year, another E3. Per usual there has been a slew of major announcements, directs, and panels. There’s a lot of talk about the Nintendo, and Square Enix presentations being the highlights of the year. While there’s no question there were a lot of major revelations and surprises that came from these two juggernauts, there was a lot of stuff overall. And while it’s true that some of the major panels turned out to be duds, there were some big titles that came out of the least hyped pressers.

E3 may not be as exciting as it used to be, but it still remains one of the biggest game-themed conventions around thanks to its long-standing relationship with being an industry, and press themed show. In recent years they’ve allowed fans to attend, but it is still geared far more toward showing off products than it is toward fandom.

In any case, every year I find myself more interested in some of the more obscure games than many of the popular ones. This year seemed to follow that trend for me, though there were still a couple of huge hits that squeaked their way in. In any event, read on. Maybe some of these will pique your interest too.


10.) AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

A lot of folks were probably way more hyped about Final Fantasy than a computer component. But for those who tuned into the AMD conference this year, this was a major revelation. At $499 it’s price competitive with as well as comparable to the Intel i9 9920k.  They also showed off the benefit of extra cores when showing off the 8 core Intel i9 9900k, and 12 core AMD 3900X chips running Division 2, with OBS, on maxed settings. While the game itself ran comparably, the stream quality was night and day. If you’re a streamer who is going to be in the market for a new build in July, this may very well be worth your consideration. Especially when considering the current 12 core Intel solution is $1200 as of this writing.



09.) No More Heroes III

While Travis Strikes Again wasn’t fantastic, it wasn’t bad enough to sour me on the franchise. No More Heroes 1, had a great story, fun characters, and dark humor. Bogged down by a barren overworld. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle was streamlined and a terrific hack n’ slash game as a result. All we really got was a trailer with a glimpse of familiar gesture moves. But it was well put together. It veered toward the stuff we loved about the first two entries on the Wii. So I’m cautiously optimistic that Suda51 will deliver.




We previously only had a glimpse of this one, but the expanded footage made this game look even cooler. Giant robot monsters. Robot Police Officers. Fast-paced combat that Platinum Games is known for. The aesthetics are bombastic. The visual presentation is something that gets a resounding “Yes.”. Hopefully, this game continues Platinum Games’ tradition of quality action games.



07.) Daemon X Machina

Last year Nintendo showed off a quick trailer of this one which looked amazing. Then they put out a short playable demo that gave us the basic concept. We know there will be a customizable character you can play as and that the system for doing so is deep. We know that you’ll be piloting giant mechs and that during missions you can even get out of them to fight on foot. The controls needed some fine tuning but other than that it felt like it would be a solid action game. This year’s trailer showed off a lot more. It looks even more expansive and the action looks even more hectic than before. Here’s hoping the extra time made everything that much better across the board.



06.) Enter The Gungeon: House Of The GunDead

Devolver Digital always seems to have a great conference every year as they’re able to find a way to tell people what they’re releasing candidly while lampooning current trends the entire time. They showed off a few cool looking indie games but then they dropped a bombshell. The company is bringing out an actual arcade cabinet based on Enter The Gungeon. This game is a rail shooter in the vein of Operation Wolf, but with full-on light guns. It looks awesome. While I don’t have space to house it or the budget to buy one, I am interested to see one in action. Hopefully, a convention like RetroWorldExpo or Portland Retro Gaming Expo may have one on display someday.



05.) The Messenger: Picnic Panic

The Messenger was one of the coolest takes on the Metroidvania in a while. It had fantastic action, a great story and terrific time-travel themed feature that was used very well. If you still haven’t played it, you should. It’s awesome. For those who have played through the game and were left wanting more Devolver also revealed that the expansion pack to the game will be coming soon. Plus it will be free! The trailer shows off a new beach themed area, new enemies and even a cool octopus boss fight. Any excuse to fire up more of The Messenger is a good one. Let’s see what Sabotage has in store.



04.) Cyberpunk 2077

While RPGs aren’t my go-to genre, I can appreciate a good one and CD Projekt Red‘s next outing looks like it could be as big as their Witcher franchise. The expanded footage they showed off during Microsoft’s conference gave some nice details on the storyline where we’ll be playing the role of a mercenary in a dystopian future. The facial animations were quite impressive and the action looked great. This one may veer toward the Action RPG than the Witcher games did but even if that turns out to be true it will hopefully have enough to sate fans of the slower methodical pace of traditional RPGs too.



03.) Outriders

While it’s hard to say how this is going to turn out as Square’s segment on it showed very little outside of a prerendered trailer, I am intrigued. For a couple of reasons. First, People Can Fly is a studio that has always made fast-paced First-Person Shooters of a very high caliber. Painkiller was an amazing FPS with a Smash T.V. feel. It was like a darker version of Croteam’s Serious Sam. Years later they would find themselves working with Epic and EA where they made Bulletstorm. This was another high-quality game that felt like Half-Life 2’s linear style of action game in one sense. You played through different set pieces as the story demanded. But on the other hand, the action felt a lot like Platinum Games’ MadWorld. You had to find creative ways in the environment to dispatch your enemies for big rewards. Oddly enough, Steven Blum voiced the protagonists of both Bulletstorm and MadWorld. Outriders will be a completely different kind of experience. It already seems like there will be some sort of hero or class system. But the character design looks really cool. Especially the monsters you’ll fight which remind me of the old Inhumanoids toys. Couple those toys with People Can Fly’s track record and we may see something special.



02.) The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild Part II

Yeah, I know everyone is pretty much excited for this one. But seeing how great the first one turned out coupled with the imagery from the teaser, you can bet I’ll keep an eye on this one. There was a lot of Zelda shown off this year between the reboot of Link’s Awakening (which looks adorable by the way. I love the claymation art style going on), and Caydence Of Hyrule. But this one already looks pretty amazing. It’s probably a good two years out, but it looks great.



01.) Chivalry II.

I’m going to preface this by saying that no, the original game wasn’t perfect. It had its share of bugs. When you made it to the highest level of play there were ways to exploit the movement system to do things the developers didn’t think possible. And while the expansion pack was fun, the lack of a true Team Objective mode meant many fans merely dabbled in it whereas in the base game they poured scores of hours into it. But in the grand scheme of things Chivalry was, and still is one of the most enjoyable competitive First-Person action games of recent memory. It did something few other games thought of at the time: Take the objective focus of a Modern Military Shooter like Battlefield and change the setting to the Medieval period. And while the game really veers into the Hollywood action side of things by portraying everything similarly to old time castle siege movies, there is some realism. The weapons in it existed. The missions take liberties with some of the dark war practices of that part of history.

So the original game was a blast in spite of all of its faults. This game looks to build upon the original’s solid foundation by adding new features. You’ll get to ride horses bringing essentially vehicular combat to the game. You’ll have newer objectives apparently. And they claim that the slashing action is being completely overhauled so some of the cheap looking stuff that could be done in the first game won’t be replicated here. I loved the original game so much that I put hundreds of hours into it. But as much as I love Chivalry I am tempering expectations a bit. The 1-year exclusivity with the Epic Games storefront is going to be a turn off for some. And while Mirage: Arcane Warfare was a fantastic take on the Hero shooter, it was a commercial failure. One can only hope that didn’t leave too bad a taste in the mouths of some buyers. All of those caveats aside, I really do hope Chivalry II lives up to Torn Banner Studios‘ advertised features. The trailer looked fantastic and something fans of the original 2012 release have wanted for a long time. It’s due out next year so hopefully, it shows up ready for primetime.


So there you go. Ten of the things that I was really invested in seeing. By no means is this complete, but these are the ones that stayed the freshest in my mind. But how about you folks out there? Feel free to comment below! Perhaps there’s something I missed or overlooked!

Most anticipated titles shown at E3

Man, what a hectic last few weeks, with more to come. It’s kept me away from time to do much. Though at least I was able to get a couple of streaming nights in. Still, I missed most of the E3 conferences, and I’ve been playing catch up. All three of the platform holders had pretty average events this year. Bethesda did a 180 from last year, even if none of the people in attendance seemed to know who Andrew W.K. is.

Ubisoft seemed bog standard. I didn’t see EA’s though the reception doesn’t appear to have been too warm. But beyond the big conferences there were a lot of trailers, and announcements of smaller titles. And I tend to like to pay attention to those, because they can often turn out to be as exciting as the hyped stuff. So these are some of the titles I saw that caught my attention. Hopefully they’ll turn out to be great games we want in our computer, and console game libraries.

Daemon X Machina

Nintendo’s Direct was the first time I’d heard anything about this game. But a trailer’s job is to generate interest in the subject matter. So mission accomplished. It appears to be some kind of action game involving mechs. But what sets this apart (at least in the trailer) is the No More Heroes unsaturated art style, and a rocking industrial metal soundtrack. It goes really well with the depictions of exploding robots, and bloody skies. I want to hear more about this one. If you’re a fan of Voltron, MechWarrior, Metal Storm, Transformers, Gundam, or giant killer death bots in general, you may want to too.

Insurgency: Sandstorm

I’ve been looking forward to seeing more about this once since it was announced. The original game is a wonderful blend of tactical shooter, and team shooter. There isn’t much of a HUD if any. There aren’t any kill cams. Most of the weapons will kill you in one or two hits. If you have body armor, maybe three. There aren’t any unlockable items that require grinding. If your class can use a weapon, you can use it. They balance this with a point system that forces trade offs. And it has all of the modes a Battlefield player might want. This sequel hopes to bring that experience to consoles next year after it launches in September on computers. Without the focus on loot boxes or battle royal modes this could be something Battlefield, and Call Of Duty veterans may want to check out. For those who don’t like to deal with sore sports online, it also offers a robust one player campaign. To sweeten the deal NWI is bringing it out at less than half the cost of a AAA release, and giving customers who bought the old game 10% off. They’re giving an additional 10% off to people who preorder.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Frankly, I don’t know how you don’t get at least a little bit excited for this one. Even if you’re a staunch fan of traditional fighters like Street Fighter, or 3D fighters like Soul Calibur or Tekken, this one should still impress you. Maybe just a tiny bit, but still. They’ve reworked the damage for 1 on 1 fights, heavily nerfed repeated dodges, and made short hop attacking a little bit easier. This is going to make the competitive end of the audience intrigued, and in some cases happy. For the rest of us, this is giving a lot of great stuff too. If you bought the figures, and adapters for your Gamecube controllers, they’ll all work on it. Every character from every previous Smash game is in here. Plus there is bunch of new assist trophies, items, and even some new characters.  This one comes out later this year, and I can already sense many will fire up the older games to practice up.

Serious Sam 4

Serious Sam may not have the star power he did back in the early 2000’s. But you’re always guaranteed a fun time filled with mindless action. For those who don’t know, this long running series by Croteam puts you in a large campaign of stages that have you constantly shooting, and managing resources. Some compare it to stuff like the original Doom. But that’s actually a long way off. The level designs are often interlocked arenas. So you’ll enter a room, destroy a wave of enemies, get an item, and destroy another. The thing is each room potentially has hundreds of enemies to contend with at a time. It’s more accurate to compare it to old Midway games like Robotron 2084, Smash TV, and Total Carnage. But the constant introduction of new enemy types, weapons, and the vast number of Easter Eggs to find keeps them fresh. This time they got the writer of The Talos Principle to write the story for Serious Sam 4. So who knows if Serious Sam will be Serious? Either way, I find these games fun so I hope to check this one out as well.


Yes I know, there are a lot of shooters on here. But I did enjoy the original Rage when it came out. Abrupt ending aside, it was pretty cool. The desert was a hub world with towns in it. It had a pretty entertaining Mad Max inspired story, and it had the shooting you’d expect an iD game to have. So this sequel has me intrigued. The desert is more than a hub world supposedly, and there are a larger multitude of factions. The action looked good, and so I’m hoping for the best. The original didn’t sell horribly but it didn’t sell Doom, or Wolfenstein numbers either. So I was honestly surprised this sequel was green lit. Still, I liked the old one, and this one looks like it could be an improvement.


I know there are a ton of Legend Of Zelda clones out there. But this one stood out to me during the Microsoft conference. It doesn’t look like it does a ton of new things with the gameplay, but at the same time it has an inviting art style, and I loved seeing some of the character designs. Hopefully it turns out really well. It displayed a fairly large map so there will be a lot of ground to cover.


Similarly, at the Sony show there were a lot of big, anticipated games. But once again, something smaller showed up in the line of trailers. This one is by Remedy who invented the Max Payne franchise years ago. They also did the Alan Wake, and Quantum Break. While Quantum Break was derided for making people watch long, episodic cut scenes, this seems to have eschewed that experiment. The protagonist has this telekinetic ability allowing her to pick things up remotely, and use them as weapons. Sure it’s not the most original idea. But it looks cool in this one. When you’re done with The Last Of Us 2 you might want to pop this in. It looks fun.

Super Mario Party

I rarely get excited about a Mario Party game. Don’t get me wrong. I have most of them. Even the least exciting iterations are still a hit during holidays, and get together moments. But Super Mario Party is the first one in a long time that I kind of really want to play. For starters the frame rate (at least in the trailer) seems like it will be 60 fps on most modern HD TVs which will be pure glory for some of those mini games. Second of all, they seem to be doing interesting things with it if you network two Switches together. On the flip side, my nieces only continue to learn games in 8 seconds. So when I visit my Sister I’m likely leaving with the least amount of stars. They’re pretty good at Smash, and Kart too. But I suppose it happens to even the best of us. We get old, and our siblings’ progeny dethrone us eventually. Still, Super Mario Party looks pretty great even if it will leave me with zero stars.


I really want to see more about this one. Ninja kids Nerf sword fighting while doing parkour, and Baby metal is rocking out in the background? It looks like there is a big reliance on bubblegum. Not sure what that’s about, but it also looks like there is co-op, and versus modes in it. The trailer doesn’t go into much detail, but like Daemon X Machina, I am intrigued.

Ghost of Tsushima

This game looked really cool. The trailer didn’t show off much of what the objective or story was. But the combat, the environments, and characters looked really compelling. I would have liked them to have spent a little bit more time on it. But in any case, Sucker Punch got me talking about this game, and if you missed it or forgot about it, you may want to follow this one. Again, hoping it turns out great. But it looked really good, and like something those with a PS4 ought to look into.

Octopath Traveler

Even though I veer more toward the instant gratification of action genres, I do like a good RPG now, and again. This game has me interested for a few reasons. One is the look of everything. It reminds me a bit of the Ys remasters with its blend of 3D models, and 2D sprites. The filters on everything makes it look unique too. Another reason is that it’s giving players eight different characters to play with, each with their own career paths, and storylines. So it looks like it can be something a die-hard RPG fan can marathon for days. But also something someone with limited time can span out over a year by playing through one story, taking a break, then going back to it.

Mega Man 11

I’m a huge fan of the Classic Mega Man series. I’ve played through all of them. 1-10, as well as the GB line, and the side game Mega Man & Bass. This one looks like they’re trying to make it accessible to newcomers with a bullet time mechanic. But they’re leaving it optional so veterans can play completely old-school. They’re also returning to a more modern 2.5D look. It’ll be interesting to see how they do without Inafune at the helm. But the trailer does look decidedly Mega Man.

Cyberpunk 2077

CD Projekt Red always seems to deliver solid RPGs. (A few of which I still need to finish.) But this one looks like a big departure from what we normally see. It’s Sci-Fi instead of Fantasy. It’s taking inspiration from a pen, and paper series, and yet also seems to have action elements.  I do want to see where they take the not too distant future theme compared to some of the others that have ventured there.

The Messenger

They showed off a little more of this one in some interviews, and I’m even more excited about it than when I saw the initial trailer two months ago or so. It’s a love letter to both the NES Ninja Gaiden Trilogy, as well as action platformers on the Super NES. It’s fast, frantic, and being built with speedrunners in mind. The visual changes are tied to the game’s story, and it’s been confirmed to not only release on the Switch, but on PC as well. As someone who loves action platformers, I’m really looking forward to this one.

Metal Wolf Chaos XD

Originally released on the inaugural Xbox, most have never played this one. Because it was exclusive to the Japanese market at the time. These days, finding an original copy for your Xbox is an expensive endeavor. It’s a mech action game with the premise of a DTV B Movie.  By From Software no less. Devolver Digital is re-releasing this game with some updated visual options on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC. It’s completely silly, and over the top. If the high aftermarket prices online have kept you from getting this already, this is one remaster you might not want to miss.


So there you go. This year’s show might not have had the hype, and power of last year, but there was still plenty to look forward to. Whether you looked for grandiose blockbusters, or indie games, or somewhere in between. These were some of mine, and I hope you enjoyed this run down. Hopefully you’ll enjoy seeing some of these as much as I did. What were some of your E3 announcements? Feel free to comment below.

The E3 game announcements that impressed me this year.

E3 has come, and gone. The conferences, and bombshells have all been dropped. So there isn’t much to do but wait to see what these new games, and products are like when they finally hit store shelves. So here are the ten titles I watched along with the rest of you. These are the ten that I found the most impressive. I may not get to buy, and  review them all. But they impressed me anyway. If you have the platform they’re on, I do hope you’ll keep an eye on them.

10. Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One)

For awhile people have complained about Microsoft relying too much on third-party games. So this year they answered the criticism with a number of first-party announcements. The biggest one in my opinion is Sunset Overdrive. This game looks really cool, appearing to mix elements of Dead Rising, and Tony Hawk Pro Skater. The animated designs of the characters are quite nice, and the Punk motif fits nicely. It looks brisk, and a lot of fun.


9. No Man’s Sky (PlayStation 4)

Hello Games showed off their game during the Sony conference, and colored me intrigued. No Man’s Sky is one of the nicer independent games I’ve seen in a while. Being able to pilot a ship, and explore the universe is cool enough, but the procedural generated worlds means it will be a different experience every play through. At least in the sense that the same parts won’t appear in the exact same order.  Even still, the game’s distinct aesthetics, space battles, and involvement with other players look impressive.


8. Rainbow Six: Siege (XB1/PS4/PC)

Ubisoft showed off a number of things between the Sony, Microsoft, and their own conference. Not the least of which was FarCry 4. But Rainbow Six: Siege hit it out of the park for me. R6:S is a return to form for the series. When Red Storm Entertainment originally started this series it was a real, unadulterated, tactical shooter. R6 games meant that players would get their friends together, look at a map, and plot a way into the property. It was about taking down the terrorists holding innocent people hostage. It was tough as nails too because one or two hits killed you. It wasn’t perfect, sometimes inconsistent A.I. could make a mission difficulty fluctuate. But on the whole, there was little else like it. So it was disappointing to many players when the series went into the linear, cover shooter route. With Siege, Rainbow Six, seems to be Rainbow Six again. Plotting out strategies, going in, and rescuing people in high risk missions.


7. Witcher 3 (XB1/PS4/PC)

I must admit I never got into the series. I know, I know. Blasphemy right? Well the footage, and news about this title will likely change that. Witcher 3 is supposed to be an even larger open world than some of the biggest sandbox games. More impressive is that it supposedly has no loading screens in the process. You’ll also be tasked with hunting monsters. There are over 100 hours of missions between the main storyline, and any side quests you might choose to do. Add in the fact that Valve already has a bundle up giving buyers all three games (When the game comes out), and you have more incentive. If the reputation from the first two games are any indication, this too, will excite fans of RPGs everywhere.


6. Super Smash Bros. (Wii-U/3DS)

What can I say? It’s Smash Brothers. It’s going to have Mega Man, and Pac-Man, as guest characters. A bunch of new characters. Miis aren’t going to be lame decoration fodder. They’ll actually be viable, and work as a Create A Character mode. It’s going to work with those spiffy looking Nintendo toys, so you can buff your characters. It will have online matches again. On Wii-U It will support an adapter you can plug Gamecube controllers into. It’s looking to be one of the most fun versions of Smash Bros. yet.


5. Scalebound (Xbox One)

All we saw so far was a trailer. I know that I’ll get heat for having in this spot. But Platinum Games has yet to truly disappoint me. Keeping the difficult, but rewarding action game genres going is their bread, and butter. A difficult, but rewarding action game with dragons? I think it’s going to be worth looking into if you have an Xbox One.


4. Bayonetta 2 (Wii-U)

Bayonetta was by most accounts awesome. It ran brisk, had colorful, fast action, and was hard. While the 360 version did perform better than the PS3 port, plenty of people enjoyed it on both of those systems. Last year, many fans were shocked to see that Nintendo had saved the sequel from development hell, by securing an exclusivity deal. This year they shocked us again. Because now, not only are we going to see Bayonetta 2 on the Wii-U, we will also be seeing Bayonetta 1 bundled with it at no extra charge. Plus fancy Nintendo themed costumes. The latest trailer showed off more exciting  game footage.


3. Grim Fandango (PS4/PSVita)

“Hey! Grim Fandango isn’t NEW!” Some of you will shout. But this is actually a pretty big deal. A lot of folks missed out on this gem. Some because they didn’t play those classic Lucasarts adventure games on PC. Others because they weren’t alive yet. But Grim Fandango getting a re-release AT ALL was a shocking enough announcement. The fact that it was secured by Sony helping Tim Schafer work out a deal with Disney was another. I’m sure some folks will bemoan this news the way others did when Nintendo secured Bayonetta 2.  But the only way you’re getting the PC game now is second-hand. So if you do have one of these Sony platforms you really should see what all of the hoopla is about.


2. Mortal Kombat X (PC/XB1/PS4/360/PS3)

I’ve always enjoyed Mortal Kombat games. Even the middling ones we saw on the PS2/Xbox/GCN were fun to play despite not hanging with the likes of Tekken. But I haven’t been excited for a Mortal Kombat since Mortal Kombat Trilogy promised me I could use every character. Then broke that promise when I found out it meant the PC version. Anyway, the last Mortal Kombat game, took me by surprise. Nether Realm learned from Capcom that people loved Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat for their 2D mechanics. So Mortal Kombat 9 took Street Fighter IV’s approach, and was a spectacular game for it. Mortal Kombat X  is continuing that trend, and trying to expand its lore. MK9 pulled a JJ Abrams’ Star Trek, rebooting things in an alternate time line. A lot of characters died, or were altered. In MKX we will see new characters, and the continuation of the Shinnok story arc.  Hopefully, MKX delivers another home run.


1. Splatoon (Wii-U)

A lot of you will call me crazy with this one. But Splatoon looks really fun. Also different. All of the time on forums everywhere we see people decry the lack of innovation in shooters. Leave it to Nintendo of all developers to shake it up. It isn’t a super gritty war shooter. It isn’t a bloody gore fest. It isn’t a paintball simulation either. Instead it’s a game that does something unconventional. Shooting the environment is the goal. Oh sure, you will have to shoot at the opposing team too. But the goal is to paint the landscape your team color. When the other team tries to stop you, that is when you dispatch them. There is also a cool mechanic in which you can turn into a squid, and travel through your own ink quickly. Or hide in it to stealth attack enemies. Or any other number of strategies. I for one hope it turns out well, and really takes off.


Don’t worry, I know there’s a lot of other stuff they showed this year. You might think I’m nuts for getting more psyched about some of these than some of those. In any case, it looks like next year there will be some great stuff to play.

Some thoughts on this year’s E3 so far.

As everyone pretty much knows E3 is underway. By now you probably know about most of the huge announcements already. But I thought I’d formulate a few thoughts on what I’ve seen through streaming the event so far. Monday kicked things off with Microsoft, who had a much better showing than last year. They needed it too. Since last E3, we’ve seen them back pedal from restrictive DRM, and recently even downplay Kinect. This was even more apparent during the conference where we didn’t see any Kinect news.

Which came off as a real back pedal because they had recently announced Kinect-less SKUs for Xbox One. Kinect was supposed to be more integral to the Xbox One design than even Nintendo’s gamepad for the Wii-U.  Despite this, they had a number of announcements that seem to have excited people. In my opinion, the biggest thing from their conference to keep an eye on is Sunset Overdrive. This game looks pretty cool. If you watch the presentation, it seems to be a hybrid of a Tony Hawk Pro Skater game, and a horde game in the vein of Dead Rising. It’s exactly the sort of thing Microsoft needs to do more of. Microsoft is also rebooting Phantom Dust, which was a sleeper hit on the original Xbox. Unfortunately, like most of the conference it was just a FMV trailer. So there was no real info on how it will play. That was probably the most disappointing thing about conferences in general. A lot of them focused on FMV trailers. Another FMV trailer was for Evolve. A game that looks like a four player predator hunter. Scalebound is an upcoming title from Platinum Games. All we know about it based on the trailer, is that it involves dragons. We also found out about Crackdown 3 which I hope will be less Crackdown 2, and more Crackdown 1.

There was also a trailer for Project Spark. The title promises to let XB1, and PC users create entirely new games with it. Unfortunately it didn’t go into any details. Will it let you create your own code or models or assets for your game? Or are you forced into using predetermined content, and building a game around it? The worst thing about the trailer was the fact that Conker, from Conker’s Bad Fur Day showed up at the end to say “Almost 10 years without a new game. Guess we’ll have to make our own!” I’m not the biggest CBFD fan, but it came off rather bad. It felt almost like a slap seeing it.  It wasn’t intended to be that as the creators took to NeoGAF to apologize, but it is something they probably should have thought about before putting it in.

Halo 5 news came out too. There will be a beta in December. The beta is multiplayer so I think it is mainly going to focus on competitive modes. Mainly because that has been what Halo’s multiplayer has always been about. But I could be wrong. They mentioned that this game is going to have a lot more back story on Master Chief.  They also have a collection bundle with all of the mainline Halo games coming out, along with the multiplayer content. I’m sure it will do well, though it really seems suited to those who haven’t already played any of them. On the other hand, it will probably also be a boon to those who have an XB1, and rarely go back to their 360.

Activision showed off Call Of Duty at the conference, and I wasn’t really left impressed. It didn’t look bad. But it didn’t really look impressive either. It’s Call Of Duty. If you happen to be a big fan of the series you’re probably picking it up anyway. I just came away feeling this looks like a going through the motions entry. Ubisoft showed off some Assassin’s Creed news, the biggest being that the next game will be 4 player Cooperative. This is another series that a lot of people have said could use some shaking up. 4 player mode is something few games are doing anymore. So it is a welcome addition to the series.

Ubisoft also had some gameplay footage of The Division. It looks really nice, but there wasn’t enough footage to go into any kind of variety. It’s looking like a flashy cover shooter. It is nice that again, it’s a cooperative game.

Ubisoft’s own conference was pretty standard fare. Aisha Tyler came back again. She was pretty funny, entertainingly delivering segues, and talking about her role in Watch Dogs. Just Dance 2015 was announced, but the bigger news was their Just Dance Now smart phone app. It turns smart phones into a Just Dance controller with other devices, allowing a lot more than four people to play the game. It was honestly pretty interesting. This is coming from someone who doesn’t dance, or play many dance games outside of the odd party or get together. It really does open the floodgates for the franchise, and will probably do pretty well considering how well the console games seem to sell.

They showed off a Kinect game for Xbox One called Shape up. It looked like a competitive take on Wii Fit, and Guitar Hero. It puts people head to head in push up contests, and other exercises, but tries to make them fun with window dressing. Where as Wii Fit is sort of going for a simulation game this goes more into arcade territory.  I’m not really sure how I feel about it personally. I’m certainly not the target market for it. But at least it looks like it’s trying something different from other exercise games.

Ubisoft gave us more trailers for Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Valiant Hearts, and The Division as well as The Crew. The Crew sounds like it could be a pretty cool racer in that it’s supposed to let players drive from one side of the USA to the other. But they didn’t go into a lot of specifics. Will it really be the highways, and back roads across the country recreated in game form? If so that is a very intricate, and ambitious project in of itself. Or will it be a small set of races or driving sections connected by FMVs in between? With racers you also can’t feel the controls for yourself in a video so with the footage you’re only left with the look. The game does look good based on what was shown.

Ubisoft did have one big piece of news, and that was the return of Rainbow Six. Rainbow Six: Siege seems to hearken back to the days of Rainbow Six 3. This is huge news because ever since the series departed into linear shooting galleries, nothing has tried replicating the tactical shooter. Rainbow Six was great when it came out, tasking players with planning a course of action to  save hostages from terrorists. I really hope this is a return to form for the series.

EA also had a conference, and there was unfortunately little to get excited about. They showed off this year’s sports games. UFC, NHL 15, and Madden really didn’t look all that different. One can argue how much you can refine a sports title, but the bottom line is why buy a game every year if they are identical? To their credit, they did try to explain how the tackling system in Madden has been revised. Now there will be traditional or risky tackles with one paying off more often.  All of the sports games mentioned newer more dynamic animations. The problem here is it’s all been promised before, and rarely delivered.

Most of EA’s presentation was FMV trailers or video of stuff so early in production there was nothing to show. Battlefront boiled down to news that they had some Star Wars reference material. Mirror’s Edge 2 was announced again, showing off some very early builds of Faith taking out bad guys without using guns. Criterion’s early build was far more impressive. All that is known about it is that it will let you pilot a large number of different kinds of vehicles over various terrains. The game will also only be playable in first person. What they could show looked promising, but it was certainly a very early build of shapes.

The big bomb EA did drop was that the new Battlefield Hardline beta was launching that day for those who had Battlefield 4 on PC or PS4. They showed off some more footage too. It isn’t looking too different from Battlefield 4 visually. But the police, and criminal aspects do look like a new take on Battlefield’s objective gameplay.

Sony’s conference was a mixed bag. We saw some footage for Far Cry 4 which looked really good. This game seems like it’s going to focus more on mountain terrain. It also seems like it’s carrying over a number of things from Far Cry 3. Also it has cooperative play which seems to be a theme with Ubisoft this year. Warner Bros. showed off the new Batman, and Mortal Kombat. Batman Arkham Knight looks like a bigger version of Batman Arkham City. The new convention the trailer showed off is the use of the Batmobile. The Mortal Kombat X trailer showed off two new characters. One is a female reptilian, and the other a duo that may have taken inspiration from SNK’s Chang, and Choi. The trailer looks like an beefed up Mortal Kombat 9 which is a good thing. We also got a trailer for Dead Island 2.

Sony’s own trailers included Uncharted 4, Let it Die (a Suda 51 game), Abzul, Bloodborne, Entwined, Infamous DLC, and Little Big Planet 3. LBP3 was the first video they showed that had some in-depth info on the gameplay. This time around there will be other characters that have different abilities which get players working together. It reminded me a lot of Trine 2 in the way the game focuses on teamwork. The bigger news was that all of the custom content people made in the first two Little Big Planet games will be compatible with the new game.

Sony also made mention that last year’s Last Of Us will be ported to the PlayStation 4, along with Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V. In addition to all of this they’re going to be answering Microsoft’s announcement of exclusive shows on Live with their own properties, and content on PlayStation Network. A show based on the Powers comics will be the first major one, and people who pay for plus don’t have to pay extra to see it. Ratchet & Clank will have a new theatrical CGI animated movie. The trailer looked like a typical children’s movie. It didn’t go much into story or plot details though so there wasn’t a lot about it that was very exciting.

Sony also announced that its PlayStation TV hardware would be releasing stateside for $100, and that it would be making bigger pushes into it’s Morpheus, and Camera products. The company strangely glossed over their Vita handheld though, just tossing out a throwaway line about it being able to stream to other products, and 100 games being made for it. But they didn’t really go into any details.

The only other thing they announced that soured me was the news that they would be pushing big into getting more Free To Play games on their platforms. Not many F2P games have been good, even fewer have been great. Many of them can be almost predatory with the way they’ll nickel, and dime players for doing anything.

Sony also mentioned some PC stuff was coming over with exclusivity to the PlayStation 4. Devolver Digital is bringing over a number of indie games they’ve published including BroForce, and a new puzzle game from CroTeam.  Magicka 2 is going to hit the console, and the biggest news being that Grim Fandango will be seeing a rerelease on the system.

Destiny was also revealed to be hitting the PS4 first with some exclusive bonuses. The game looks pretty nice, but the biggest game in my opinion hitting the system is No Man’s Sky. This game lets you explore planets, star systems, and get into space battles. It’s different with every play through.

I should also bring up the Metal Gear Solid V trailer. Again, I would have liked to have seen some more game footage, but the montage we saw was pretty cool looking. Although I have to admit I think Konami may have a knife fetish. Every other scene in the montage displayed either a stabbing, or a clean shiny knife in someone’s hand.

Yesterday was Nintendo’s turn at bat, and they really swung for the fences this year. The opening skit from the creators of Robot Chicken was a nice tongue in cheek touch. The fight between Satoru Iwata, and Reggie Fils-Aime was a hilarious, John Woo inspired battle that introduced Super Smash Bros. really well.

The stuff Nintendo did this year was not only an entertaining way of announcing projects, but also gave a behind the scenes look as well. The interviews with developers did a better job of advertising upcoming Nintendo games than some of the other videos shown off this year.  Yoshi, and Kirby games look a lot more interesting as a result.

The Zelda announcements were impressive as well. The new Zelda looks amazing. Fans have wanted an open world sandbox Zelda for a long time. Visually it looks great, and while they didn’t show a lot of it, it was certainly enough to get everyone talking about it. Hyrule Warriors is also coming out, and where before the fear was it would be a re-skinned Dynasty Warriors we see it isn’t. Not completely anyway. The game is going to have enough elements from Zelda to keep it from being just another Dynasty Warriors. That said it’s definitely more Dynasty Warriors, than Zelda. Still, it may very well get Dynasty Warriors fans into Zelda, and vice versa which is what it seems like the developers were shooting for.

Mario Maker was confirmed, and the trailer hinted you can make stages for not only the 1985 Super Mario Bros., but for New Super Mario Bros. Wii-U as well. I don’t know how big this is going to be though.  Mario design is probably a lot more difficult than the average person thinks, and a lot of people may just mess around in it giving us a lot of crummy levels to sift through before getting to really fun or challenging ones.

Captain Toad’s sections in Super Mario 3D World were apparently so popular we’re getting an entire game made out of them. They also teased boss battles in the trailer. I’m not sure how that will work exactly since Captain Toad can pretty much only walk. But we’ll see.

There was also a new Pokémon announced, and while I never got into the series there’s no question it’s a huge franchise. There will be a bunch of new monsters to find obviously. The trailer didn’t really show much else, so we’ll be waiting for more info.

Honestly, the biggest announcement for me was Splatoon. This game looks really cool. It’s not often you see a colorful all ages shooter, and even less often they come out fun or challenging. If you missed it, it’s a game where the object is to control a map by painting it your team’s color. Anywhere your color is, you can turn into a squid, and swim in it. You’ll be able to shoot each other too, as it is a team shooter. They teased some paint themed weapons at the end of the segment too. It looks really interesting, and I certainly want to see some more of it.

The other big news was that Patulena, Pac-Man, and Miis will be playable in the next Super Smash Bros. All of which seem to be really cool. The Mii integration looks like a lot of thought, and balance went into the game with the fists/swords/guns move sets you will be able to choose from.  The game is also going to be the first to work with the new Amibo toys that Nintendo announced. Apparently, the figures work with a bunch of Wii-U games by placing them on the IR sensor on the gamepad. So you can save or load game data onto them that affect the state of your character. This sounds like it is going to go deeper than what Activision’s Skylanders do in that they work with more than one game. The only negative I can see with this, is if the toys become little more than glorified memory cards. Still, if they’re made well,  they have the potential to become a huge hit with kids, and collector’s. So it is a calculated risk on Nintendo’s part.

Another thing that I found exciting, and I’m sure others will too is that Bayonetta 1 is being bundled with Bayonetta 2. That’s going to be especially nice for anyone who never got to play the first game before buying the new one.

Nintendo showed off an X trailer which looked really good. The only complaint I have here is that it wasn’t game footage, just a FMV. Still, we get a glimpse into the story behind the next Xenogears which is pretty good.

If all of that wasn’t enough, after the Direct, word came out about a new Star Fox, a new Giant Robot game, and a Giant Guard game. Finally, there’s Devil’s Third. A traditional action game that looks cool enough to hang with some of the stuff we’ve seen coming out across E3.

E3 isn’t even over yet, and there has been a number of good things showing up.

We did it! Microsoft kiboshes XB1 DRM

If this announcement of a 180 doesn’t prove that customers still have voices nothing will. Apparently Microsoft has decided to listen to those voices, and has determined that not complying with their wants in a product would lead to their competition at Sony, Nintendo, and various PC storefronts taking the lions’ share of the 360’s fan base away.

Kudos to the company for listening, but one can only hope future generations of the tech giant’s gaming division will remember this fiasco, and swear to never repeat it.

With all of that out of the way, maybe the preference wars can end for awhile so that everyone can get back to being excited about some of the new titles on the horizon, and playing what we have already.  After all, the games are supposed to be the main reason we partake in our hobby.

I also thank anyone who reads my little crumb on the internet for being patient in between updates. I have a lot going on personally. But I am trying to keep content coming wherever possible. I’ll likely reprint some of my review articles, from my defunct pages, as well as keep the opinions coming.

Thoughts on this year’s show.

Well as we wind down from the huge annual E3 event I suppose I should talk a little bit about it here before it becomes old news, and nobody cares. This year pretty much confirmed my thoughts going in a couple of weeks ago. E3 2013’s biggest focus was on the DRM schemes Microsoft imposed upon anyone buying it’s new Xbox One, and whether or not it’s competition at Sony,  or Nintendo would be doing the same sort of thing. The conventional wisdom seemed to be that Sony would have used something similar. Or done something not as far reaching, yet still somewhat restrictive. But that wasn’t the case. For the five of you stumbling upon my blog, who didn’t catch any of this stuff the basic breakdowns were:

  • Microsoft confirmed gamers’ worst fears about DRM schemes in it’s new Xbox One. Buyers should know the console will have mandatory installs of games to the hard disk, and will be tied to an account. As such it limits what you can do with the game when you’re done with it.  You can give it away to someone on Live (Provided you’ve been online friends for a month or more). You can trade it in at an authorized reseller provided the publisher of the game will allow you to.  Microsoft has set up an infrastructure where these retailers will be able to de-authenticate traded titles publishers decide have tradable licenses. The console has to have an internet connection to be able to connect to a server once a day. If it can’t you won’t be able to use the system properly until it can.
  • In it’s defense Microsoft showed off games for the Xbox One as promised. There were teasers for  a new Halo, a new Killer Instinct (Which has both a full price sku, and a F2P micro transaction per character model), a new Forza, along with several 3rd party games. The biggest being a timed exclusive of EA’s Titanfall. This game actually looks like a system seller. But it remains to be seen if these games can make people forget about all of the XB1’s many restrictions enough to want to buy them. From my own anecdotal experiences talking with people yesterday, my gut says no. Unscientific to be sure, and I could indeed be quite wrong. But I don’t see it.  Especially with gaffes like this one.

The other big news was the Playstation 4, and Sony’s commitment to not do what Microsoft is doing in terms of a DRM scheme.

  • Sony showed the rest of the system specs. It too has a 500GB hard disk. There is a camera available, but it will be sold separately.
  • The system will not have extensive built in DRM as once feared. Playstation 4 has the same situation Playstation 3 had. Players can share games,  resell games, lend games the way they always have. The system also does not force players to connect to the internet once a day the way the Xbox One does. Suffice to say, most everyone at E3, and on the internet sighed relief upon this news.
  • Sony also showed off a large number of games. Killzone, Gran Turismo, and Infamous entries were the big Sony games, but everyone seemed most excited to see a new Kingdom Hearts. Many of the other trailers were multiplatform games.
  • But the biggest two announcements from Sony were good, and bad. The bad news for many is that to play online you are now required to pay for PSN+. Granted, many were already paying it, and a lot of players skipping the Xbox One who had the Xbox 360 this time around are already used to it. Still, paying extra for something that used to be commonplace will certainly be a sting to some. The good news though is that the console is going to cost $399.99. This puts Sony in a very competitive position because they’re making PS4 $100 less than XB1, and a scant $50 more than the Wii-U.

Yesterday Nintendo brought out it’s Nintendo Direct announcements from E3, and while unconventional it may prove to work out for the company.

  • Nintendo partnered with Best Buy to have E3 Wii-U, and 3DS stations set up in select locations during E3 so that the public could actually try some of the games out. E3 is supposed to be an event journalists, and those in the industry can get into (Yes I know some folks find ways to get in, but it’s really not for them). So it really is a great way for them to build rapport. I wouldn’t be surprised if next year all 3 vendors do this. If fans like a hands on demo they probably are more apt to buy it. Plus if you can’t go to E3 getting to try a game early is the next best thing.
  • Nintendo’s bombshell this year was part of an otherwise expected announcement. Everyone pretty much expected new entries in key franchises due to a software drought that has stalled Wii-U sales. Among those entries was the new Super Smash Brothers everyone knew was coming. Everyone knew Namco, and Sora were teaming up, and as such there was hype. After all, these are the guys that make Tekken. But nobody expected Capcom’s Blue Bomber to show up as a guest character. Even if I’m wrong, and a couple of people had, they probably didn’t think the announcement would be so spectacular. Two other Nintendo characters were announced as Smash newcomers. The villager from Animal Crossing, and the trainer from Wii Fit. The game will have versions for Wii-U, and 3DS each with different stages.
  • Nintendo showed off some more of it’s first party offerings. An impressive new Mario game called Super Mario 3D World which combines Super Mario 64, Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA), and Super Mario World elements into a really cool 4 player mainline game.  They also showed off Mario Kart 8, the new Xeno game from Monolith, a new Retro Studios take on Donkey Kong Country, Super Luigi U (A standalone expansion pack for New SMB Wii-U), Wind Waker HD, Poke’mon, as well as the exclusive Platinum Games’ Bayonetta 2 (Which will have multiplayer Co-Op), and Wonderful 101
  • Nintendo also showed off a few third party games to quell some of the worries many have that it could be relegated to “Nintendo game” status the way the Wii was for a lot of traditional action game fans who ended up on PS3/360. Some of these included the new Splinter Cell, and the director’s cut of Deus Ex.  This probably won’t quell those worries from what I can tell, but these are looking on par with the other versions for the most part. The graphics gap is nowhere near the gap between the Wii, and the PS3/360. Be that as it may Reggie Fils-aime did tell Game Trailers personality Geoff Keighley  in an interview that Nintendo was trying to build it’s install base for the Wii-U by creating enough fun first party experiences that people will want the system for so that way they can better attract third party publishers.

From my vantage point looking at a lot of things that happened at this year’s trade show, Sony clearly had the most excitement coming out of it’s conference. They went out of their way to put a stark contrast between themselves, and Microsoft in terms of how to go about DRM. Sony listened to the potential customers coming away from Microsoft’s first two reveals, and capitalized on it at E3, gaining a lot of mindshare.  They announced a very competitive price point that a lot of players will respond to. They showed off some big titles. They certainly executed properly.

Nintendo tried to move the ball forward. The E3 directs may have disappointed those who love the typical grandiose that comes with every year’s convention. But in my opinion they did a lot of unconventional things that paid off. Getting kiosks at a retailer was a great move. I know a lot of us who love this hobby dream of experiencing E3 but never will. A lot of us are always looking what’s coming out with a keen eye too. Being able to play Mario Kart 8 a year, and a half before it comes out is a pretty big deal to some of us. Nintendo for all of it’s imperfections did seem to take at least some of the criticism to heart. They showed us a lot of new stuff to play. And even if they don’t get all of their third party ducks in a row, it does seem that the Wii-U will deliver enough unique experiences to supplement those who primarily game elsewhere.

Microsoft did go out of it’s way to show games as promised, but again seemed to really lose mindshare to Sony at this show. It’s too bad too because outside of the bad DRM restrictions, and mandatory once a day check ins, it could contend. The TV stuff isn’t even so bad, and it makes Smart Glass pretty viable. Unfortunately though, as long as the company keeps pushing things to the grindstone it looks like it will be the system for “Microsoft games” much in the way people have criticized Nintendo systems over the last 3 generations. But for far more worrisome reasons.  Microsoft really did make DRM the talk of the show. Most of the interviews you can find on game sites this week ask about DRM to just about everyone. Even after the EA conference, and Ubisoft conference.

I know I didn’t talk about those at all really but they do have some pretty great things coming out. Battlefield 4 does look like it will impress. Tablet users as Generals, does seem at the very least intriguing. New Mirror’s Edge, and New Battlefront probably will deliver. People are stoked for Ubi’s Watch Dogs, Rayman, and Assassin’s Creed. Splinter Cell looks like it might be a return to form. The Division certainly had an interesting trailer.

If I had any major beefs with this year’s show though it would have to be with the lack of news on middle tier games, or under the radar games. I find throughout the year I enjoy these sorts of titles. The week isn’t over yet though so that news my still come once the fervor from the megaton announcements die down a little.

It’s going to be interesting to see where people go when these new consoles arrive. Personally for the time being I’ll likely focus on PC. The major games mostly seem to be hitting the PC so until there are enough exclusives to warrant a system that’s where I’ll continue to play.  That’s not to take away from the three consoles though. Sony has a great piece of tech, Nintendo has a lot of content coming, and for all of it’s faults Microsoft has a capable box. I suspect they’re in for a rude awakening though as I’ve said before the furor over their moves may drive customers to the competition.

At least I’ll be able to buy Rise Of The Triad very soon. If you haven’t heard about this reboot of the classic 1995 cult classic, do check out some of the footage. A lot of buzzworthy information has been trickling out on it these past few conventions like LAN play in addition to typical internet multiplayer. An open non-linear old school single player campaign. Gib effects unseen since Unreal Tournament 2004, and a moddable game. So folks can make new stages, characters, total conversions, you name it. It’s a tall order. But I can’t wait to get it, and see if it delivers on it’s promises.

In any event the event may have been a bit somber going in, but there was still certainly a lot to be excited for.

It’s only seeming worse for the Xbox One reception

Microsoft responded to the long standing rumors, and speculation about it’s DRM schemes in the upcoming Xbox One. It’s now confirmed that several of the biggest worries players have had will come to fruition. The two biggest being that the system does require a 24 hour internet connection. It will run for one hour if a customer’s ISP goes down, but beyond that it will essentially cease to function until the ISP comes up again.

The second concern, is  that Microsoft is replacing the practice of selling games with the practice of selling licenses. The games will be tied to players’ Live accounts, and as such aren’t truly able to be sold second hand. While the system will let individual fans sell a game privately it’s restricted to only friends or relatives who have both used the service for over a month or so. Alternatively “Select” retailers will be able to de-authorize/reauthorize game keys. This will likely mean that in order to keep the doors open these stores will have to give customers even less store credit to cover the cost of the transfer license they’ll need to get from Microsoft.

The second issue should be cause for alarm because it truly means the end (In the case of Microsoft consoles) of private property rights. By going the license right, buyers are going to be severely limited in what they can or can’t do, in effect operating under the assumption that as customers you don’t actually get to own anything you pay for.  This is going to rub many console gamers the wrong way, as well as a lot of the general public who have always been able to pawn unwanted games, or yard sale them, or even take them into a store.

This will also seriously hurt small businesses who provide games in small towns, or provide competition to Gamestop, and big box retailers. These stores will probably find themselves unable to get the reactivation software Microsoft will be selling, and even if they do, they will feel the same pinch that the giant corporate stores will.

It still remains to be seen if Sony will take the same approach with it’s Playstation IV. So far they’ve only hinted that they won’t, and instead leave it up to the individual publishers. But there’s always the chance that they too, will chase after the license train rather than continue allowing it’s customers to do what they want with whatever they purchase.

Should that happen, then like the Xbox One, Sony’s system will in effect become a low rent PC. Ironically, this could have the unintended consequence of gamers flocking back to the PC as the license situation on the PC varies from publisher to publisher, and storefront to storefront. PC gaming can in many ways be much more centered around personal freedom. Many independent publishers don’t put in DRM restrictions, and have licenses that do allow buyers to resell them, or give them away. Because there are so many storefronts online, even games tied to a storefront can be had cheaply due to the competition leading to sales. Some of these storefronts do try to allow gamers some wiggle room by being playable offline.

For all of the flack it gets for the botched launch of the Wii U, it’s lower specs, and anemic support, Nintendo is still giving gamers what they want. At least in terms of consumer rights. The system doesn’t require internet connections at all hours. The system doesn’t lock out used discs. If the upcoming Microsoft, and Sony offerings fail to set the world on fire because of the backlash, some of those parties reluctant to sell to Nintendo’s customers may find themselves with no other choice.

Admittedly, some of this is speculation on my part. I could be proven wrong, and nobody will care about their right of first sale doctrine because Halo 5 is out. For some that may prove ultimately true. But I still believe that most people aren’t that keen on being told what they’re purchasing isn’t their property. As much as I like a lot of their products, Microsoft has really stirred the proverbial pot here. I really don’t see very many people buying into such a restrictive ecosystem. Neither does Joe.

E3 is looking like a bit of a downer.

As E3 draws closer this year I find myself thinking the focus will not be on the titles coming out by year’s end or early next year. Rather it seems this year those covering the event will be really looking at how heavily entrenched DRM schemes will be.  For those who missed it, the entire internet literally flipped it’s lid after Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal.

While some of it’s higher ups gave conflicting answers about just how deep the DRM will go on the new system, it does seem they are moving toward a CD-Key styled approach. For years, those of us who have played games on computer platforms have dealt with the fact that publishers have been selling us licenses rather than games. In their minds, or at least the people helming the publishing companies’ minds purchasers don’t own anything except the ability to play titles as the publishers see fit.  This started around the time the 8-bit home computer platforms started fading away. Before long, we were mostly using MS-DOS, and then Windows. Platforms that in the business world, had been using licenses for awhile. Eventually this would become the norm for computer games.

Games started out trying disc protection. When that didn’t work publishers tried putting in annoying screens where you had to type a word, phrase, number, or answer that only the paper manual could solve. Eventually games started coming with CD-Keys. Codes needed to be inputted into a program to authenticate, and run. Until the advent of digital distribution we even needed to keep the disc in the drive because of the unethical types who might try to return the software to the store after having installed it. These days most of your games, even those you buy at a store in physical disc are tied to a digital store of some sort because the CD-Key authenticates with it.

Console games however have always been products rather than licenses. From cartridges to discs, they have always been considered property of the buyer. But with the information trickling in on the Xbox One, that is probably not going to be the case anymore. At least not on that platform. It’s been cause for alarm for a lot of people, and honestly it should be for everyone who cares about consumer rights. The shift to a license based console is worrisome. It cuts out the ability for one to lend their purchase to a friend to try out unless they want to let that person log into their Live account remotely which also means some folks may end up losing friends over hijacked accounts. It effectively ruins the ability for Gamefly, or Redbox, or the few small businesses still renting games or movies to rent Xbox One discs.

This also effects the second hand market which is obviously the target of this move. Publishers want everyone to buy a new copy. A license forces them to do so. Pop a previously used copy, and the system will ask for a log in, or to buy a new CD-Key.  This is the biggest controversy. Second hand markets are essential to the economy. It allows people who cannot afford the latest item to get it, or an older version for considerably less. In terms of media, it’s been going along fine for years. Used albums, books, films, shows have all found their way into thrift shops, yard sales, and discount retailers.  While all of those industries may have been vocal about piracy, it’s been rare to see complaints of second hand sales of them. Let’s not also forget that libraries, the places everyone in education, and academia implore us to visit, are around because of donated second hand goods.

Some folks seem to think that by cutting out the second hand market, and Gamestop in particular that everyone will magically start buying $60 full priced, day one games. What will likely happen instead will be more contraction. People who might have normally tried a title in a genre they weren’t familiar with because it was discounted second hand will likely stick to what they’re comfortable with. There also won’t be as many people buying the latest interactive Hollywood movie because they used to sell four old games to be able to afford it but can no longer do so.

To be fair, it’s been hinted that Microsoft will have some means of allowing second hand sales to continue. But even that is seen as being rather cumbersome. The rumored workaround involves some sort of software process that retailers like Gamestop would have to buy into. It would deactivate the CD-Key from the customers LIVE account, and transfer the license to the retailer. The retailer would then be able to sell the used disc & key to someone else. This also means Microsoft, and probably the publisher would take a huge cut. The retailer would also owe for the entire deactivation utility. So this will probably lead to even lower trade in values at retailers.

If those rumors prove to be accurate that still doesn’t bode well for specialty retail or big box stores. It especially doesn’t bode well for mom, and pop game stores who may not be able to afford the deactivation utility. Not helping these rumors is the patent for the new Kinect ability to tell movie studios if too many people are watching content on it at the same time.

All of this stuff will likely send the majority of the traditional 360 customers to Playstation 4  (Unless Sony decides to do something similar) or to Computers.

On many of the message boards I frequent, a lot of those who only game on consoles have wondered why PC players have dealt with being sold licenses for so long. There are a lot of reasons for this. Competition is probably the biggest one though. With Valve, EA, Ubisoft, GoG, Amazon, and other digital stores duking it out there are sales. Valve’s Steam sales are practically events two weeks out of the year. When hit games can be legitimately had for under $5 everyone is bound to try something.

But it’s more than that too. Steam has free weekends where players can try a game for two days straight then decide whether or not it’s for them.  GoG doesn’t put any DRM licenses in any of the games it sells. Buyers are free to backup their games onto DVD’s or a flash drive. All of the stores let you re-download games that have been uninstalled. Steam also does a solid for those with finicky internet connections by including an offline mode in it’s client. This way if the ISP is down, purchased games that don’t require an internet connection will still work.

It’s highly unlikely that the Xbox One will see any of these types of activity because LIVE is the only storefront on the platform. There won’t be a competing game seller offering better prices or services to spark competition. Neither of it’s competitors will differ in that regard either. Sony will have it’s PSN. Nintendo will have it’s eShop.

Microsoft did briefly mention at the conference it would have new IP’s, and exclusive titles. The thing is with all of the fervor those titles may not matter no matter how awesome they are.  The messages coming out since the conference have been cryptic at best.

It’s striking to say the least. E3 used to be the time of year to get hyped about all of the latest games, and gaming gadgets as news trickled out. Now it’s all about who has the least restrictions on your electronic entertainment.