Dabe Alan

PS4 at $600? Xbox One sentient, hateful? Halo 5? Ben and Andrew discuss hopes and fears for E3 2013

PS4 at $600? Xbox One sentient, hateful? Halo 5? Ben and Andrew discuss hopes and fears for E3 2013

This E3 is clouded in more secrecy than most shows, simply due to both Microsoft and Sony getting ready to launch their respective next-generation systems by the end of the year. My schedule has “Microsoft Unannounced Game 1 through 7” as a block of time, for instance. We're flying blind on much of what we're going to see.

So let's start with what we want. I want a series of games that's going to make me excited for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. I want surprises, I want sequels, I want new IPs. I want both companies to wow us with their software lineup, enough that the tedious questions about how and if the companies are going to allow us to even play these bastards without an Internet connection becomes part of the story instead of the whole story. After Halo 4, I'm hoping the Xbox One launches with Halo 5, because I can't wait to see how 343 Industries continues that story.

I also want to see what Respawn has been working on, or at least get more details about the project. I can't wait to see what Destiny looks like in action. The game has an insane budget, it's been in production for years, and it doesn't get much bigger than Bungie and Activision working together on a ten-year deal attached to a new IP. This is what AAAA development looks like, and it better blow us away. The stakes are huge, but so are expectations. It's going to be hard to match what's in our heads.

I love the more intimate way Nintendo will be giving out news and showing the games to the press. They're holding a small to-do inside their booth, and then we get to go straight into playing the games. That's the way to do it, if you ask me, and I'd love an excuse to fall in love with the Wii U. My son was playing Game & Wario the day before I left for E3, and it reminded me of how much I loved the system's two-screen approach and the interesting ways it can be used for gaming. Chris Hecker told me that he has a Wii U dev kit, and the idea of SpyParty coming to Nintendo's console makes me very, very happy. Let's hope that pans out.

So basically, the big stuff: I want to be wowed by the companies pouring tons of cash into the big, splashy experiences. I'll check out the smaller games as well, and PAX is always a great time for finding new and exciting ideas, but I'm looking forward to seeing how big things can get from this E3.

Andrew, let's start with the good, what are your hopes for the show?

Andrew's thoughts

I'm really hoping that E3 2013 is going to be a great show for Japan. The major Japanese developers and publishers have had some troubles in recent years, but there is a great line-up of potential awesome coming from Capcom, Namco Bandai, Konami, and Square Enix with Deep Down, Dark Souls 2, Metal Gear Solid 5 and Lightning Returns.

That's just the stuff off the top of my head that we know we'll learn more about at the show. Throw in some surprises from Nintendo and who knows who else, and this could be a great show for Japan. They've been struggling to find a way to make games that appeal to both the West and the East, and it feels like they might finally be getting the hang of it.

Beyond that, yes, I'm also hoping that gaming's giants will be able to wow us with something completely new and groundbreaking. It's no secret that console gaming has a lot more competition these days, and the only way they can snare people's hearts and minds in 2013 is with something spectacular. 

What will that something be? I have absolutely no idea, but I'm excited to find out. Pre-show buzz is usually a pretty good indicator of how exciting an E3 will be, and the whole industry seems amped for this show to get started. 

That said, there's a lot that could go wrong. As much as we're hoping it could herald a new dawn for console gaming, it could also be a deathknell if nothing excites people.

So Ben, what are you most afraid will happen at this year's show?

Ben's thoughts

I'm afraid that Sony is going to match Microsoft's policies when it comes to used games, trading games, and licensing. I'm afraid that the things we have to give up to play games on these systems just won't be worth it for most gamers, and we're going to lose a chunk of enthusiastic, passionate fans. I'm afraid that both systems will be overpriced, over-burdened with DRM, and players will give both systems the bird while also not picking up a Wii U.

I love the PC, but I would hate to see consoles enter a slump because the companies who make them become greedy and controlling about what we can do with our games. I also despise the fact that Microsoft is basically forcing me to buy a Kinect.

Harmonix did some interesting things with motion controls, but as a cultural force the whole idea died an ugly death, with very few games offering an improvement from the controllers. Everyone chased Nintendo's short-lived mega-success with the Wii, and no one gave Microsoft the memo that the ideas behind that system crashed and burned.

The Kinect is also going to add to the cost of the system, and I think any price above $350 to $400 is a death sentence for these consoles. Of course, Sony is coming out with their own Kinect-like device, and each PlayStation 4 controller operates like a Move controller, so I guess we're stuck with this bullshit from both sides.

I'm scared that the big publishers are going to continue to crank out sequels that cost more money to make, but don't offer much in the way of innovation. I love big, splashy, blockbuster games, but I'd love to see real money and effort go into new ideas and concepts. Even The Last of Us, which I truly believe is one of the best games of the year, is basically a zombie game with amazing acting and writing.

I'm afraid that companies are going to descend to free-to-play hell, and the big games end up costing us an unlimited amount of money instead of $60. I know that gaming as a whole will be fine, there are plenty of nimble, creative, low-budget teams working on every system and the PC to create new experiences, and many of those developers are having the best days of their careers. I'd also like to live in a world where big-budget games can show us amazing and unexpected games, and we don't have to give up loaning our games to friends for that to happen.

I'm afraid that, even with control of the used game market, the price of games stays the same, or at worst goes up.

Andrew, what keeps you up at night? What's your worst E3 fear?

Andrew's thoughts

I too am worried about free-to-play games taking up too much of the limelight this year. There's a right way and a wrong way to do F2P, and the wrong way could become very tempting in a closed ecosystem.

But I think my biggest fear is that it will be business as usual at this show. When I take a look around the industry, it seems to me that the best, most loved, and most successful companies are the ones who are taking risks and leading the industry forward. I don't see a lot of companies getting rich off of borrowing the ideas of others.

So my fear is that we'll see the console makers think that it's enough just to keep up with the status quo and offer F2P games and game streaming to catch up to PC and mobile. Keeping up with the times is usually what new consoles do, but in today's world it's almost certainly not enough. Gamers are too tech-saavy to buy a machine that does what all their other machines, including their PCs, already do. If they don't excite then they could be in just as much trouble as Wii U.

But enough of the doom and gloom. Ben, if you had one wish for E3, what would it be?

Ben's one wish

Last Guardian as a PlayStation 4 launch title. Yours?

Andrew's one wish

Dark Souls 2, Lords of Shadow 2, and Metal Gear Solid 5 pretty much sum up my wish list. But if I had to dig deeper down into the realm of almost-certain-not-to-happen, I'll go with a Street Fighter 5 announcement.

Ben's last thought

That's why I love this calm before the storm: Anything could be coming! I'm excited as hell.