E3 2014

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What is E3?

E3 stands for the Electronic Entertainment Expo and is one of the Video Game industry’s biggest events in the year. It occurs every year at or around the beginning of June, starts on a Monday and is usually held in the Los Angeles Convention Centre. Various video game companies and publishers/developers alike come to E3 to showcase the games they have been developing and is usually an event to make new announcements. The main three companies which are usually focused on are Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony mainly due to their home consoles.

Microsoft at E3 2014

Microsoft tend to go first when E3 starts as they usually have the first 9AM slot on Monday. Microsoft usually use their time to show off the yearly Call of Duty games as they have a strong relationship with Activision (publisher of Call of Duty). This relationship is key to Microsoft appealing to the mass market of casual gamers who play shooting games and tend to buy only a few games in the year. Microsoft has also unveiled various games via it’s ID @ XBOX initiative focusing on independent developers creating low cost, unique games.

Microsoft chose to push it’s focus towards the core gamer rather than focusing on multimedia aspects like it did at last year’s E3 convention. Microsoft seemed to have learnt from it’s mistake and have listened to the consumer this year. An example of this is the Halo Master Chief Collection which has 4 Halo games, all remastered as well as various extra content. The feat of this collection is that it includes all the multiplayer maps also. The collection also allows the player to create their own playlist of levels from 4 games which is very unique.
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XBOX YouTube Channel

Sony at E3 2014

Sony’s 2013 conference was a hit with the core gamer and is evident in its sales for it’s most recent home console. The only issue with gamers was that the line-up for first party games was weak and was made worse with various games being delayed such as Watch Dogs from a launch game of November 2013 to May 2014.

Sony used their time to focus on the gamers and exclusive content. Destiny, which is produced by the developer who made Halo, was one of the main games showcased with exclusive content. Sony have also bundled the game with a new white PS4 console for slightly more than retail. This will be great value for money for the end consumer.

Entwined is an exclusive Sony PS4 game which released on the same day of Sony’s press conference. This shows that the Playstation brand is able to cope with new game announcements and give the product quickly to the gamers.

Sony expanded it’s product offering such as Playstation Vita TV which is already available in Japan. Project Morpheus, Free to Play games and a few films announcements were also present. The final trailer shown by Sony was a trailer for Uncharted 4. This was an important trailer to show as the developer who is making that game has had a lot of re-shuffling of staff members and layoffs who focused primarily on that game. Showing a trailer for Uncharted 4 was a good move to ensure that gamers know it is still in production and not cancelled.

PlayStation YouTube Channel

Nintendo at E3 2014 (kind of)

Nintendo have opted to do a digital presentation for the past couple of years which seems to work for Nintendo. They have not had a conference since 2012 physically at E3 and has online, direct videos instead over the year. This allows Nintendo to give gamers access to the announcements globally without any restrictions.

Nintendo are very laid back and have an outgoing direct video. They showed off gameplay from new like Yoshi’s Woolly World and known titles such as Super Smash Bros Wii U and 3DS. The majority of the time was spent speaking with Japanese developers who have been working on these games. Due to the format of which Nintendo present themselves at E3, a lot of the content is best shown outside of the 40+ minute video and are shown as small trailers.

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Nintendo have used their resources to show off their games. It is very important that Nintendo give what the gamers are looking for which are core games like Legend of Zelda and Mario games. These are usually the system sellers which Nintendo need gravely as they are currently last in this home console generation.

Nintendo YouTube Channel

What is next?

The video game industry has become more and more mainstream since the Nintendo Wii was released as well as the advent of mobile gaming and gaming on the go. It has allowed various ages of consumers to play games and in a variety of formats. The average consumer will be focusing on this but these conferences are held back for the hardcore gamer. These gamers are the main reason the industry continues to thrive as they are most likely going to the have high attach rate for games.

The next gaming convention is in August for the Game Developers Conference in Germany. Various European developers use this convention to give updates on games which are due to be released in Spring the following year.

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Microsoft Xbox One vs. Sony Playstation 4

The date for the next generation of video gaming has been set, 22nd November 2013. The last company to announce the release date which is for the Microsoft Xbox One while Sony’s Playstation 4 is set to release on the 15th November in the USA and on the 29th November in the EU. The Nintendo Wii U began the 8th generation of home console video gaming when it released in November 2012, one full year before the other 2 main competitors but has had lack lustre sales over the one year head start.

Microsoft has aimed its release date to be worldwide but has undercut Sony by one week in the market it has struggled in the most, the EU. Microsoft is making sure that the EU is a focus point in aggressive marketing by bundling day one consoles via FIFA14 which is the equivalent to NFL in the USA. The only problem the company will have is that the console is £429 in the UK compared to the £349 for the PS4, which makes the console even harder to sell. Both companies would try to use their existing infrastructure with their online platforms in order to transfer current generation gamers into the next generation.

Microsoft has secured exclusive games and content for their next generation console such as Titalfall and content with the Call of Duty Ghosts which is most likely to be timed exclusive. Gaming analysts and websites such as IGN like the originality of Titalfall with good use of the next generation’s technical power. The game allows user to be a soldier who can run up walls with futuristic weapons but also let the player use mechanical robots, known as a “Titan”, to move around to fight against enemy ‘mech’ soldiers. The game is based on a futuristic concept much like the Halo series and Gears of War series, which are both exclusive to Microsoft.

Microsoft have had a lot of backlash from gamers since they announced the Xbox One console towards the end of May 2013. At the beginning, Microsoft had opted for a digital strategy to disallow gamers to share physical copies of games, and had strict digital rights management as well as an always online connection being required with the Kinect camera needing to be always connected. Since then the company has heard the feedback from the gamer community, which has mainly been against these policies and now each one of these features has been removed or adapted significantly so that it matches more closely to current generation requirements. Some analysts feel that Microsoft are are listening to the consumer which is the best possible outcome for the success of the console, whilst some analysts think that the damage has been done.

Memes on Xbox One policy changes

The PS4 on the other hand has seen to be resonating with gamers, with their pro indie stance on game development and gamer friendly policies. Sony had chosen to unveil their console in 2 different stages: the first announcement which acknowledged the console’s existence and revealed the controller with the second announcement being the E3 expo 2013 where the console was revealed with a myriad of games, both first party and indie games.

The E3 presentation revealed the price of the console for three main markets, much like Microsoft’s presentation, as well as the design of the PS4. The exclusive games which were announced were Driveclub which allows players to join clans of drivers so compete in different racing challenges, as well as Infamous: Second Son which allows the player to use powers in a post appocalyptic Seattle. There were various other indie games shown which was a nice welcome for the hardcore gaming audience as well as games from Square Enix which has been fairly quiet when it came to game development.

Sony was said to have won E3 2013 and that was mainly due to it’s straight forward approach to answering the gamers’ concerns with new policies. Gamers wanted to know whether or not Sony will follow Microsoft’s now revoked console features such as the always online where Sony took a direct attack on it’s competitor by stating their policies in a clear confident manner. They even released a cheeky video to reflect the policy. In the most recent gaming conference in Germany, GamesCom, Sony revealed that they had received over 1m in pre-orders for the PS4, while Microsoft have yet to reveal any pre-order numbers.

At this point in time, there is no way to tell who will end up “winning” the 8th generation of home console gaming. Microsoft is taking a “all in one media system” approach, while Sony has chosen to focus on the core gamer. As for Nintendo, they are trying to imitate their success from the Nintendo Wii by targeting casual gaming for all members of the family. The product life cycle for newer generations of home console gaming is over 8 years, where in the past consoles where revamped over a shorter time period. This is mainly due to the fact that technology was moving much faster back then, whereas now there are only advances in CPU/GPU power with little advances in overall technology. This generation could last until early 2020s, and the content of the software will only get better in quality over time as developers get used to the consoles architecture, which is very similar to PC development.