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E3 2013: A pre-show assessment

As E3 quickly approaches, it brings the near complete picture of the next generation of games. But to proclaim the official entrance into the next generation doesn’t feel entirely fair considering the release of the Wii U. Even with stronger hardware, new games and a newly design controller, many people, including myself, choose to forget that Nintendo’s console even exists. The slow trickle of information and void of Wii U games doesn’t help either.

So as many Wii U owners sit in limbo waiting for the complete reveal of the Xbox One and PS4 launch line-ups, I wonder how Nintendo can even compete new hardware and any the opposing games capable of diverting attention away from the next Zelda.

With E3 only a few days away, I want to evaluate the current state of each console and outline what each company needs to do for the most successful E3.

Microsoft

Tell me everything!

As soon a Microsoft holds back a core piece of information, people assume the worst. If the information wouldn’t upset people, then Microsoft would trot around tooting the Xbox One used games capability rather than shoulder shrug to answer hard pressedquestions.

For E3, no matter how terrible the results, Microsoft just needs to answer questions truthfully. People would rather know the truth then read dozens of reports all presenting different ways the Xbox One will handle used games.

Does the Xbox One play used games? Will Xbox Live increase in price? Will my small bedroom work with the Kinect? Just answer the questions in full, not with responses such as “we are not currently speaking about this subject at this time.”

I want new games, not Gears of War 4

During the Xbox One reveal, Don Mattrick said we should expect 15 Xbox One exclusive games, 8 of which will come as new IPs. These 15 exclusive will launch within the first year of the Xbox’s launch. Well, at least according to Don.

The idea of 15 exclusives excites anyone, but it won’t happen.

When I think of 15 games, I dream of first-person shooters, story driven games, puzzle platformers and incredible new IPs that would bolster any Xbox One owner’s library. Realistically, you can expect a whole lot of Dance Central and Kinect Sports type games, as opposed to games like Mirror’s Edge 2 and Killer Instinct. We will definitely see Mirror’s Edge 2 and games like it; just don’t think every exclusive to appeal to the game playing audience with the Kinect hovering about.

Don’t force the issue, prove it

 A few years ago Microsoft and BioWare demonstrated Mass Effect 3 and its Kinect voice command features. Instead of showing us how Kinect made the game better, they just told us.

If you need to explain how Kinect will make a game better even after the demonstration, then it obviously doesn’t contribute anything meaningful. People watching the demonstration should automatically recognize the advantages of Kinect implementation and not need an explanation to describe the importance.

If the developers don’t actually believe in the necessary implementation of the Kinect, then people watching won’t believe it either.

Microsoft needs to convince us, show us why we need to play games with Kinect functionality. Since every Xbox One will come bundled with it, Kinect won’t go away, especially since you need it connected to the console to even play anything.

Sony

Avoid the Wonderbook-sized speed bumps

No one can deny Sony’s edge going into E3. They discussed their new hardware, announced exclusive games and teased us of the things to come; everything you could ask for.

Yet I still remain cautious.

Sony developed this reputation of announcing great things then not delivering on the potential. On top of that, instead of capitalizing on what makes the Sony platform so successful in the first place, they walk out onto the E3 stage and present something like Wonderbook.

If Sony fills 90% of the conference on Monday with just games and the console itself, that 10% used for something unneeded like Wonderbook will only sour the overall presentation. The people watching E3 are skipping school and calling in sick to work to watch the event. Showing anything even remotely close to Wonderbook will waste everyone’s time.

I feel a pulse

Speaking of not delivering on potential, how ’bout that Vita.

Saving the Vita from complete irrelevance requires a handful of major, but not unachievable, improvements to bring it out of the depths of handheld indifference. When assessing the issues, I can list the 3 most obvious yet most important problems that need solving.

1. Price

2. Games

3. Memory Cards

In a world where a $250 3DS existed, the PS Vita could compete. But that world no longer exists. As soon as Nintendo dropped the price of the 3DS in an emergency response to save the failing handheld, the Vita looked grossly expensive. A price cut only lingers for the West following the Japanese price drop, and it ultimately will help those interested in the Vita to forget any caveats.

After a price drop you need games. The 3DS saw a spike in sales following the $80 price cut but sustained the sales with a steady flow of software. Aside from a few titles like Tearaway and Killzone: Mercenary, the future doesn’t not look promising for the Vita. I love the hardware and think that the touch screens, analog sticks and systems power can allow for not just games like those available on the PS3 and PS4, but games unique to the Vita.

In addition to a price drops and some games you can actually play, memory cards (why do I need to discuss memory cards in 2013) need to drop in price. $100 for the largest capacity memory card of 32GB won’t fool anyone. You can buy a terabyte hard drive for $90.

Nintendo

A fireworks show

When Reggie walked out onto the E3 stage and began speaking about showing one last thing, everyone propped up in their chairs waiting biggest E3 surprise. Instead of showing the next new game from Retro Studios or the next 3D Mario, Reggie paved the way for a Nintendo Land fireworks display.

This year, instead of ending the show with virtual fireworks, Nintendo needs to come out and actually announce some meaningful games to avoid both the crushing excitement of new consoles and the deep holethe Vita currently sits in. We already know of a new Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart and 3D Mario, but even that won’t propel Nintendo forward amongst any impressive launch titles of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Keep building on the 3DS

In light of the struggling Wii U, the 3DS easily became Nintendo’s strongest platform for games.  In addition to the known Nintendo IPs, the 3DS became a platform for Nintendo to revive dead or inactive franchises. We saw games like Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon and Kid Icarus Uprising that only bolstered the quickly growing library of the 3DS.

The 3DS finds itself in a great position as long as Nintendo continues to make games for it.

This year E3 can easily rival one of the best shows in years. The extended length of the previous generations unfortunately forced developers to create sequels and prequels to franchises that already reached the peak of their success. People quickly became exhausted from the 4’s and spin offs of major franchise and starve for something new. Sure Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty sell fantastically each year, but those multimillion selling franchises need to start somewhere. They start witha new generation.