E3 2016 Schedule, Previews & State Of The Video Game Industry

All right, all right, all right!

We’re right in the thick of E3 and we figured now is as good a time as any to go deeper on what we can expect this year, not just for the expo but for the gaming industry as a whole.  Of course, there’s only so much you can cover in an article before eyes start to glaze over so, for more discussion, be sure to tune into R9Cast, Horseplay! LIVE, Gaming History 101, The B-Team Podcast, 42 Level One, and other great shows on the AllGames and GeekyAntics networks.

This E3’s theme is Inspiring Worlds.  I’m ready to be inspired..  But I’m not holding my breath.  If the past decade or so has taught us anything it’s that the big brands driving the industry just want to collect easy paychecks.  They’ll keep regurgitating the same old crap so long as we buy in..  But maybe we will be surprised – hey, there’s always hope!

…Inspire my world, BABY!

E3 2016 | Inspiring Worlds | June 14-16 2016

I’ll be inspired if we see something new this year.. That isn’t VR.

…And, now, the obligatory E3 presser schedule, in case you missed it:

E3 2016 Livestream Schedule (Corrected)

Sunday, June 12th 2016

  • EA – 1PM PT / 4PM ET

  • Bethesda – 7PM PT / 10PM ET

Monday, June 13th 2016

  • Microsoft – 9:30AM PT / 12:30PM ET

  • PC Gaming Show – 11:30AM PT / 2:30PM ET

  • Ubisoft – 1PM PT / 4PM ET

  • Sony – 6PM PT / 9PM ET

Tuesday, June 14th 2016

  • Nintendo – 24-Hour Gameplay Bonanza

  • Other – Random surprises from Activision and others?

Since 2015, Twitch has been open with event coverage, allowing broadcasters to co-host and crowdchat E3 pressers.  Sharing is caring, which is a lesson Nintendo should pay attention too..  But more on that later.  Don’t forget to use the proper tags when chatting about the event! #E3onTwitch

 

E3 Highlights, Hopes & Predictions

EA – Outside of Mass Effect, I’m not expecting any “drop your pants” moments from Electronics Arts. It’s a shame because we continue to see the old guard becoming less and less relevant. I mean, just look at Konami and Capcom. Expect sports, racing, and Battlefield.

Okay, to be fair, I think Titanfall is an under-rated franchise and from what I’ve seen of Titanfall 2, I am eager to play. The multiplayer is fun and fast-paced.. Plus it has mechs. You can’t go wrong with that combo.

Now, if you want to really have a drop-the-mic moment, EA has a few options. They can announce a deep discount on the year-long EA Access. They’ll likely announce new games in the vault which is cool but not earth-shattering. The only way EA will get my jollies all tingly is if they bring back Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer with more polish or dust off one of their classics. Maybe General Chaos or Mutant League Football? Yeah, I know: wishful thinking.

Oh yeah, e-Sports will be a big thing. I’ll give EA that: they at least are bolstering competitive gaming but I wish they diversified beyond the typical sports and shooter games. A new (and good) Burnout would be great. Heck, I actually liked Burnout Paradise – call me crazy but… Crossing my fingers!

Bethesda – At the top of everyone’s list is Elder Scrolls 6 but I wonder if it’s too soon. People are still playing Skyrim and it’s endless mods; furthermore, Elder Scrolls Online fills the void quite well. Then there’s the elusive Elder Scrolls: Legends TCG/CCG set to release on PC and iOS. I think they have Tamriel covered for now and should lean towards delay another major Elder Scrolls installment to get it right.

Looking at the most recent releases and buzz, we can expect new announcement regarding Dishonored 2, Wolfenstein, and The Evil Within. The latter is interesting because the game got mixed reviews yet it sold quite well. The Evil Within is a reminder that, even when people ask for something, they remain unhappy; after all, it’s as close to classic Resident Evil survival horror as we’ve seen in recent times.

A new Wolfenstein would be interesting but I would like to see announcements about significant expansions to DOOM and plans for the franchise as a platform. Since ID is under the Bethesda umbrella, I wonder how soon before we’ll see a new Quake game but, again, it’s familiar territory.  Still, it’s what the people want.  New DOOM modes would be awesome and that’s highly market.  As for forgotten games, the fans seem to want a new Prey so maybe we’ll see that, too!

I’m curious to see if Bethesda can lead the way with a new IP as it seems all the big studios and publishers are sticking to safe plays. I’m surprised they haven’t jumped into the sci-fi arena beyond Fallout. Something less.. Dystopian? Oh yeah..  Everyone has been begging for a remastered Skyrim so I’m sure that will be announced in place of a new Elder Scrolls game.

Ubisoft – Rainbow Six: Siege has been a real treat, as much as people like to poop all over it. It’s an unapologetic, pure multiplayer experience and they keep building upon it by adding more customization and characters. I’d like to see new gameplay modes and I’m hopefully they’re committed to the game as a platform and not a one-and-done release.

Any announcement related to Assassin’s Creed will make me eyeroll. The series went from being one of my most beloved to a crapfest of regurgitated junk. I’m hoping they dedicate enough resources to Ghost Recon. In fact, call me crazy, but I wouldn’t mind a remastered GRAW. Those games were great for competitive play, as much as people laugh at the possibility that they’ll become forgotten pack-ins.

The Ubi Art division has the potential to churn out more quality, unique games. Child Of Light, Valiant Hearts, and Rayman are a good start. Let’s see more. This is one of those few times where I’m okay with artsy-fartsy in my games.. Because the gameplay is FUN!

Nintendo – We’ve been promised anime shows, mobile games and deeper online experiences for 2016 but so far we haven’t gotten many specifics. Nintendo seems to be hanging their hopes up on Zelda for now and they’re hoping that the anticipation will be enough to bridge the gap before they make the next major announcement.

There’s no Nintendo NX demo yet so what we really need to hear about are some compelling partnerships and maybe some surprising new IPs (yeah right). The reality is that Nintendo remains a toy maker and can’t seriously compete with Sony and Microsoft directly.. Right now.

On the bright side, they’re finally opening up and playing nice with others. Games will be ported to mobile. Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem will be the first free-to-start offerings on iOS and Android. Miitomo also shows promise of a world where Nintendo realizes that this Internet, community building, and social media stuff is not a passing fad.  I think they’ve also learned that you need more than a gimmick to be relevant these days.  Anyone remember Wii Fit?

Nintendo Wii Fit Meme - Your Heart Rate Is Zero

Sony – We can expect more ports and perhaps more revivals of old games. Sony has been “leading” this generation in terms of console sales but they’re lacking in the variety department. With that, I think they’ll hope that PS Neo and VR hype will be enough. Perhaps we’ll have an immediate launch and price announcement?

VR has some momentum still so I’m sure Sony will announce more about their offerings thereof. Hopefully, this will be a platform they will stick with as we all know how bad of a track record they have with new formats (Blu-Ray was a rare win for them). That said, No Man’s Sky still has people hyped but you can play that on PC so it’s not exactly a secret weapon. More on that in a bit!

At the risk of sounding like a total anti-Sony fanboy, I feel they’ve become too complacent with their lead. Having marginally better hardware and capitalizing on poor timing / bad wording is not enough to maintain a lead. I have yet to be even mildly tempted by anything the PS4 is offering so we shall see.  I wonder what they can do to top last year’s Shenmue announcement.  Some may say the game is over-rated but there is great potential with the franchise.

E3 Save Shenmue Kickstarter | E3 2015

Microsoft – XBox One Scorpio & XBox Mini talks are all the buzz right now. I believe these are two very different offerings than what people expect. One is a significant upgrade, a huge leap rather than a mere iteration like PS4-Neo is compared to the base PS4. The slim XBox One people are expecting I believe will be more of a budget media-focused device comparable to Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, etc. This makes sense because then the devices are not fighting against each other. Of course, this is more than what I hope for but leaked information points to a more questionable direction…

It’s likely that Microsoft will announce a formal partnership for VR content delivery but I would avoid investing in that mess of a space. Sadly, VR is one of those things you can’t ignore, though it’s a niche thing and will likely go away again. Let’s see if the porn industry makes a strong push for it. Again, I do not claim to have inside sources but, logically, this is what I believe makes the most sense. While everyone is wasting time on VR, I’d like to think Microsoft will pursue better things.

What I’d like to see from Microsoft is a concerted effort to give their game studios creative freedom and put those acquisitions to work. There’s a lot of wasted potential there. The Lionshead thing was unfortunate, to say the least. Cross-buy, cross-platform, and cross-play are all things I’d love to hear more of. Get these studios involved and don’t force Windows 10 or a new marketplace down our throats as it limits the community, IMHO.

PC – Nvidia will talk about their latest proprietary circle jerk. People who have the money to buy their stuff will get free gear. The 10 people there will climax about all the big numbers. Everyone else will go grab something to eat. I love PC gaming but the elitism of it makes it rather disgusting. What’s more: PC gamers spend lots of time online so are we going to REALLY learn anything from the PC gaming show? I’d like more of a focus on software rather than the hardware crap.

Evolution Of Video Games: The Road So Far

I believe to truly appreciate where things are heading and what we hope for, we should look at how the video game industry has evolved/devolved over the years. Video games were originally marketed as toys or novelties. Games used to be extremely challenging and the reward resided in fun gameplay and the sense of accomplishment you got from discovery and perseverance.  Nowadays, they seem to pander and focus on mass appeal rather than provoking and inspire us in fresh, new, and FUN ways.

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