Posts Tagged ‘E3’

E3: Thoughts on Sony’s Briefing13 Comments

88092026KD054_E3_GAMING_CONIn the wake of a massive PSP Go leak the weekend before E3, could Sony still deliver surprises at its press conference? That’s the question everyone was asking as we filed into the Shrine Auditorium for Sony’s PSP and PS3 showcase. With Microsoft delivering the Beatles, Steven Spielberg, and a fancy new camera technology, Sony had its work cut out for it.  Good thing it had some of the best looking games at E3.

Here are my notes on the briefing:

STAGECRAFT: With a gigantic 40×80 foot screen, Sony had the biggest and longest press conference at E3. (Sony briefings always seem to run the longest at E3).  While there was lots of content to fill the time, it was hard to keep up the momentum for two straight hours.

MASTER OF CEREMONIES: “Thank god you guys showed up.” You’ve got to hand it to SCEA CEO Jack Tretton for his off-the-cut remarks to break the ice at the briefing. Out of all the press conferences, Tretton was the only executive confident enough to go off-prompter and talk to the crowd.

BIGGEST MISS: The third party montage videos of PS3 and PSP games. Here’s my question: Which games were rejected? You know when Disney’s G-Force makes the 5-minute reel someone needs to re-examine the length. Why not run these as “coming attractions” before the briefing begins?

FIRST PARTY POWERHOUSE: With live demos of Uncharted 2 and God of War 3, Sony unquestionably had the best and strongest first party software lineup at E3. It was so good big-ticket games that Heavy Rain and Ratchet & Clank didn’t even make it into the press conference.

THE SONY DRINKING GAME: There’s one thing you can always count on from Sony: Mentions of a ten year product life cycle and starting an E3 briefing with talk of the PS2. This year was no exception. Let’s hope 2010 (the system’s 10th anniversary) is the year the PS2 talk can finally be retired.

MOST NOTABLE OMISSION: PSN improvements. Microsoft (Facebook/Twitter) and Nintendo (Facebook) announced new online functionality at E3, but Sony had nothing to say on social networking or new PSN features.

BEST LINE: “So there’s one that didn’t leak out, huh?” — Jack Tretton, after revealing the Final Fantasy XIV trailer.

BEST ON-STAGE DEMOS: Uncharted 2 and God of War. They weren’t only the best live demos at Sony’s press conference, they were the best demos at any of the briefings.

BEST KEPT SECRETS: Despite other leaks, Sony had three solid surprises no one saw coming: Final Fantasy XIV as a PS3 exclusive, Rockstar’s Agent as a PS3 exclusive, and the “Play Create Share” kart racer ModNation Racers.

WORST KEPT SECRET: PSP Go, of course. The only things we didn’t know were the price ($249) and launch date (Oct 1).

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: A price drop for the PlayStation 3. Even though the content looks great, the fact remains that the PS3 is still $399 — more expensive than the PS2 at launch. Without a price reduction, will it matter how great the games look and play?

CONTROLLER WITH NO NAME: Sony rolled out EyeToy inventor Richard Marks to show off his new “magic wand” controller technology with sub-millimeter accuracy.  We got a release date (Spring 2010) but the lack of a name or developer endorsements / real game demos made it hard for Sony to compete with Microsoft’s Natal demo.

M.I.A. AWARD: We didn’t hear anything from Sony’s European studios, or at least what’s left of them. While HEAVY RAIN was at E3, it wasn’t in the briefing. And what abotu EyePet?  That would have been the perfect demo to show a “controller free” experience coming from Sony. (Apparently it was shown behind closed doors to some media).

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  • Though I was more impressed by Natal, Sony excited me more with their motion controller demonstration of fantasy combat. If … More»
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E3: Nintendo, A Love Letter to the Hardcore?7 Comments

nintendo-e32009Despite record sales for the Wii in 2008, last year’s Nintendo E3 briefing didn’t exactly fire up the masses with Wii Music and Animal Crossing. This year Nintendo was determined to please the hard-core and appeal to its expanded audience. That’s not an easy balance to strike, and I’ve publicly wondered if Nintendo even needs to focus on E3. I mean let’s face it: Most Wii owners who pick up Wii Fit don’t even know or care about the trade show.

So how did Nintendo do? There’s no question there was much more for the hardcore Nintendo gamer at E3 2009, including the shock announcement of Metroid: Other M — probably the best kept secret in any of the first party briefings. Add in Mario Galaxy 2, the first hints at a new Wii Zelda (which was mentioned the next day at a Miyamoto roundtable), and a 2D Super Mario Bros for Wii, and Nintendo certainly has a lot of games in the pipeline.

Here are my thoughts on the briefing:

STAGECRAFT: The cramped Club Nokia stage combined with high-placed teleprompters made it look like the Nintendo executives were talking to the heavens for most of the briefing. Still, Nintendo always delivers the quickest (75 minutes) and most polished E3 briefing. This year’s show was no exception.

GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT: For most of the briefing hardcore Nintendo fans were up in arms. Half way through the presentation I was getting Tweets like “This is worst than last year!” But then, in the final 10 minutes, Reggie saved the show with Mario Galaxy 2 and Metroid: Other M. Before I knew it, the positive Tweets were flowing, such as “Give Reggie a bear hug for us hardcore guys!”

CHECK YOUR FACTS: When discussing Wii Fit, Cammie Dunaway said that with 15 million sold, the Balance Board now ranks alongside other home systems in terms of worldwide installed base. What system is she referring to? While the Wii Fit numbers are impressive, both the PS3 and 360 are beyond 15M sales worldwide.

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: You have to give props to Reggie and Cammie for actually playing games during their briefing. Rival execs just read prompters, but the two Nintendo figureheads actually picked up controllers and played their products.

STRANGEST SEGUE: From Cammie Dunaway: “We admit we haven’t quite figured out how to move [Mario] into a fourth dimension. But that number, 4, that’s the key to Mario’s next surprise.” Is this a hint that the next Wii will include a water sprayer to add 4D effects to your Mario experience?

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: Nintendo spent ample time hyping up the multiplayer in New Super Mario Bros. for Wii….but conveniently forgot to mention that there is no online multiplayer support.

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, PART 2: Reggie said, “”Third party publishers are drawn to opportunity. And right now there’s no opportunity larger than Nintendo.” The only problem? Third parties can’t seem to crack the opportunity and make non-Nintendo games a blockbuster hit on the Wii or DS.

BIGGEST OMISSION, PART 2: When Iwata revealed the Wii Vitality sensor he only showedphotos. But apparently there is a video of a Vitality Sensor demo, which Iwata showed to some European press behind closed doors. He edited the video himself on the plane trip over from Japan.

MOST OVERSHADOWED GAMES: Nintendo is getting into user-created content in a big way. Both Minis March Again: Mario vs. Donkey Kong and Warioware: DIY encourage user creativity, but the message seemed to be lost during the briefing.

BEST LINE: “I’ll be honest, I read the blogs too.” — Reggie, as he began to introduce the “hardcore” section of Nintendo’s briefing with Dead Space, The Conduit, and Metroid: Other M.

WHAT NINTENDO DOESN’T WANT YOU TO CALCULATE: Sure there are some big first party Wii games in the pipeline, but the vast majority are coming in 2010 like Sin and Punishment 2, Endless Ocean, Super Mario Galaxy 2, and Metroid: Other M. The second half of 09 looks very light for hardcore first-party games.

MOST QUESTIONABLE GREENLIGHT: C.O.P THE RECRUIT from Ubisoft for the DS. With GTA: Chinatown Wars off to a slow start, does Ubisoft really think it can be successful with a new original GTA knock-off on the DS?

ONLY IN JAPAN: Where’s the news on new Wii Channels for the US? Japan has been rolling out new content like the Wii No Ma video channel and even a channel to order Pizza online. But Reggie didn’t even mention Nintendo Channels during the briefing.

BEST REVEAL OF E3: The setup for the Metroid: Other M trailer was brilliant. Reggie didn’t give up the surprise with his introduction, and it took a good 10-15 seconds of the trailer before it was clear a new Metroid game was afoot. Bravo!

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  • Face it nintendo forgot the hardcore. Its good to see another mario,Zelda,and Metroid but were still missing most of the … More»
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What Is Microsoft Up To With Natal?14 Comments

Games E3 MicrosoftSteven Spielberg introduced it. It has its own YouTube page. And yes, it even made it onto Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. So what exactly is Microsoft’s “go to market” strategy with Project Natal? It’s a question worth considering, since I’ve never seen such a large consumer media push for a tech demo with no firm release date, price or even a final name. If my sources are to be believed, the hardware behind Natal isn’t even final, and a release probably won’t happen until late 2010 at the earliest. Or will it come sooner?

There are certainly elements to Natal that don’t add up for me. Why would Xbox aggressively build equity in the “Project Natal” name unless it plans to actually use it at launch? There’s also the photo of the Natal sensor. In its final form it will supposedly be all black, which definitely clashes with the 360’s white color scheme for Arcade and Pro units (the target market for Natal). In addition, why would Xbox spend so much time talking about a “controller free gaming platform,” only to say you first need to buy an Xbox with a controller and then purchase Natal on top of it? That’s not the way to court the Wii consumer. (And let’s face it — Natal is a directly response to the Wii).

Here’s one theory: In 2010 Xbox will launch a “new” re-branded console at $199 that includes the Natal sensor in the box, a new and simplier Xbox dashboard interface, and is aimed at directly competing with the Wii. Perhaps the rumored “Xbox Fluid” code-name will be used, and “Fluid” will be a slimmed down Xbox 360 arcade unit with Natal packed into the box. (The big question: Will it include a controller in the box or not?) Of course Microsoft will still make the Natal camera available for existing 360s, but the consumer push will be focused on converting the Wii audience to this “new” console.

At least I hope that’s Microsoft’s strategy. Convincing new consumers to buy a 360 and then purchase Natal on top of it is a messy and complicated proposition — especially for Xbox, which has never quite nailed the platform marketing. The fact that Xbox is still using a “code name” for the platform makes me think they haven’t yet decided on a go to market strategy.

Meantime, what does Xbox do for the next 18 months to compete with the Wii? The E3 briefing lacked any new mainstream games like You’re In The Movies, Scene-It or even a new Viva Pinata, which makes me wonder what Xbox’s strategy is to court mainstream consumers through the holidays.

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  • Hello, can you please post some more information on this topic? I would like to read more. More»
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Extended Cut from E3: Reggie and Nintendo2 Comments

Here’s an extended version of my GTTV interview with Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime from E3 2009. Enjoy.

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  • wow...that's just rude man...suffer like the rest of us hitting refresh 459083458 times... Thanks for the video Geoff. I like Reggie...I … More»
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The Origins of Molyneux’s Milo11 Comments

molyneuxMost of the world met Milo for the first time last Monday at E3. I first encountered him about five years ago at GDC. That’s when Peter Molyneux introduced me to Dimitri, a young boy who was furiously working on his math homework in Peter’s hotel room. “Hello, it’s nice to meet you,” the young lad said before turning his eyes back to a ruled notebook.

Little did I know that half a decade later I’d meet Dimitri again — albeit this time in virtual form.

Molyneux is a big idea guy. And Milo (renamed from Dimitri for legal reasons) is his most ambitious and riskiest concept to date. It’s a natural outgrowth of the artificial intelligence-driven creatures in Black & White and the dog in Fable II. But those AIs were supporting characters in a larger game world. Milo (or Milly if you select a female) is the game.

What inspired Molyneux to build Milo? Dimitri, who’s now in college, sees Peter as a role-model. Over the years, as Peter spent more and more time with Dimitri, he began to reflect on his own childhood and the choices he made growing up. How would Peter’s life have changed if he made different choices? It’s a question we all ponder at some point.

Milo, I expect, will give us a chance to re-examine our own choices by guiding a young avatar through life. He will ask questions, seek advice, and, if the technology works, form a bond with the user.  And when I refer to the technology, I’m talking about the AI – not the Natal camera.  Milo has been in development for years and the camera support was only just added in the past 5 months.

Here’s what makes me the most curious about Milo: What limits will Peter place on the game’s choices and the character’s actions? It’s one thing to slap around a creature in Black & White to condition him, but what will the tolerance be for such extremes in a game like Milo? Peter has already said there will be limits.  But could your Milo end up being a criminal?  Could he mistakenly drown in that beautiful fish pond?  Or, will Milo go off and meet a girl (or boy) at school, live happily ever after, and forget to come back and visit you?

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  • Five years of development can be a short time, which everybody who works on a complex project knows. My PhD … More»
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Watch GTTV’s E3 Episode Now1 Comment

This week at E3 we filmed a special GTTV episode, featuring interviews with Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime, Microsoft’s John Schappert, and Sony’s Jack Tretton. Plus: In his only TV interview, Avatar director James Cameron fills us in on the new game. The good news is that you can now embed the show for viewing on other webpages, so check it out below:

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  • fBZxe5 I'm not eiasly impressed. . . but that's impressing me! :) More»
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