GET YOUR GAME ON: E3 brings surprises, controversy

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First Posted: 6/18/2013

Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has come and gone, and that means a post-show wrap-up. E3 is the most exciting three days of the year for the video game industry and its fans, as it is used by game companies and publishers to show off all of their upcoming games, hardware, and plans for the upcoming year.

Going into this year’s E3, there was more excitement than usual because we where promised information about two new consoles from the biggest giants in gaming, Microsoft and Sony. Earlier this year, both Microsoft and Sony had press events that announced that there would be new home console systems, but both parties left several unanswered questioned that were mostly cleared up in the E3 presentations.

Sony showed off their system, the PS4, first at a press event in February of this year; the presentation was great and revealed several games, but it did not show the system or talk about the price. Not to be outdone, Microsoft had a press event in May to announce the Xbox One. The Xbox One press conference was very interesting; it mostly showed off features to control your TV, new motion and voice control functions, entertainment services, but very little about games.

There where few statements that really upset the majority of gamers, the first being DRM or anti-piracy issues. They talked about extra fees to play used games and the system checking for an online connection to be used. The other concerns were with the new, more advanced Kinect sensor that has voice recognition abilities and responds to voice commands. Questions and concerned where raised by this because they didn’t specify how it was going to work and what it was going to listen for or see. Consumers are worried about privacy issues, with their Xbox recording conversations and watching them all the time. It is a bit creepy and was definitely something they had to address walking into E3. Sony was riding high on their announcements, so this year was Microsoft’s show to win; they had to put concerns to rest and define why consumers need this new system.

In some ways, Microsoft did have a good press conference. They started by showing the system, and they showed off the games, this is what they needed to do. The games look gorgeous, of course, and they had several good-looking titles and even some surprise game announcements like “Killer Instinct.”

Though I thought their conference wasn’t bad, they didn’t swat down any of the concerns that people had with privacy, and they made some weird choices with used games, saying you can loan them to one friend if you have had them on your friends list for over a month – nothing about buying used games in the store, and they said that the system still needs to be connected to the Internet because it will check for an Internet connection once a day or it will not work. They also said that this system is not for people who do not have reliable Internet, and those customers should just stick with the 360. The system sounds like it works great, but their recent business decisions are really bad for gamers, consumers, and the industry.

The following show was the real show stopper, and that was Sony. The first thing that was announced was that there where no plans to stop used games, and you don’t need an Internet connection to play. This was a blatant slap in the face to Microsoft, and it was very uncharacteristic of Sony, but it got a standing ovation. Sony came on strong; they showed their games, and there were not too many surprises, but there were a few “wow” moments, like trailers for big games like a new “Final Fantasy,” “Kingdom Hearts,” and a new game from Bungie.

After they showed the games, they dropped the hammer on Microsoft when they released the price of $399, a $100 less than the Xbox One. Overall, Sony blew Microsoft away in every way from hardware, software, games, and price, to the point where it was just humiliating. The company that played it the most safe was Nintendo; they were not at the main E3, but they did have a live stream conference you could watch online. It was standard Nintendo fair – a new “Mario,” “Donkey Kong,” and “Mario Kart.” The highlight of the show was the new “Super Smash Bros.,” introducing Mega Man as a new playable character. Nintendo’s show wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t very exciting.

Overall, E3 2013 was the most exciting in recent years; we got to see two great new consoles, there was controversy, amazing-looking games, and some great things to look out for in the next year. There is a lot of speculation that Microsoft loyalists are jumping ship to Sony at an alarming rate, but we will have to see what the end of the year brings in sales for each system to see what the next generation will have in store for these two giants. I can’t wait to see what these systems can do and see what new experiences they have in store for me.

-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]