The Game Industry 8 Comments

Notes from the E3 2013 Press Conferences

I didn’t start out yesterday intending to watch all the big press conferences at E3, but Mondays could use a little pleasant diversion and joining in the snarktacular on Twitter was just too much fun to resist.

I’ll mention what I thought were some of the highlights of each of the big presentations from Xbox, EA, Ubisoft, and Sony, but there was one common thing that each presentation had and that’s tablets as a companion gaming platform. Well okay, calling themselves “next generation” repeatedly, and tablets as a companion gaming platform.

Ubisoft in particular seemed fond of the idea, and the gameplay demos for both Tom Clancy’s The Division and Watchdogs featured a tablet player showing up to help the main hero out of a bad situation. Apparently we’re all going to own gaming tablets in 2014? I’m pretty sceptical.

But enough! Here are some of my notes from the shows as they happened:

Microsoft Xbox
* The Forza Motorsports dude declares that the latest game is “the end of AI — now you have a learning agent in the cloud”. First, dude, that is still AI. Second, you know who else had agents in the cloud? Sim City. Pass.

* Also, apparently the game will have “driveatars”. Twitter immediately points out that “avacars” would have been pithier.

* I get bored and start doing work. (Sorry.) By the time I get back it turns out that one of the Microsoft fellows made a joke that referenced rape on-stage while playing a fighting game against another presenter.

* Some Xbox suit declares their love for indie games, and then talks about Minecraft. Even Notch is underwhelmed.

* The presentation ends off by announcing that the Xbox One will be initially priced at the vaguely ridiculous $499. I declare to Ellyndrial on IRC that consoles are dead, but he pretends to not hear me.

* One of my biggest annoyances with EA is that they’re pretty terrible and yet keep buying lovely studios like Bioware and Popcap. I’m reminded of this when their show opens with a look at Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, which is a .. wait, third person shooter? I’m not sure what to think.

(ed: Upon reflection I think this is actually a genius move. They could be making the third person shooter genre appealing to a totally different and currently untapped audience, with less emphasis on bloody violence and more on cute little plant characters.)

* First inexplicable celebrity sighting! It’s Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad and he’s here to tell us about the Need for Speed movie!

* Dragon Age 3: Inquisition has fan favorites Morrigan and Varric in the preview, and isn’t being released until Fall 2014. That gives me over a year to come up with an excuse to buy it while still boycotting EA.

* Second inexplicable celebrity sighting! Drake comes out to tell us that as someone who appreciates the fleeting nature of our time on this earth, he totally recommends playing the new FIFA. #yolo

* The Battlefield 4 dude attempts to coin “levolution” which, I’m sorry, is just not happening.

* EA closes out with the somewhat surprise announcement that Mirror’s Edge 2 is in the works. Nice, but overall the show was underwhelming.

* Aisha Tyler is back and she’s awesome!

* New game The Epic Quest for Mighty Loot is described as a “capitalism simulator in an open world” and I just about knock over my coffee trying to get to their website. Sadly, everyone else has the same idea and the site is down.

* The third racing game segment of the day is for The Crew, which while it looks like the most interesting car game so far frankly at this point if it doesn’t have driveatars or avacars I’m just not sure I’m interested.

* Holy shit Aisha Tyler is a tall lady.

* They start talking about some Rabid Rabbits “television show that you can play like a game”. Wait, isn’t that just, like, a really crappy game? Modern synergy is irritating.

* Ubisoft ends with a gameplay preview of a new title from a familiar franchise, although they don’t say which one. The game looks awesome, with a grim post-apocalyptic setting, co-op multiplayer, and good interaction with the environment. And then — whoah, it’s PvP with other roving gangs of players! And it’s open world! And it’s.. Tom Clancy’s The Division?! I have never said this before today, but I want a Tom Clancy game.

* The final presentation of the day, and I feel like Ubisoft has the unofficial Best in Show award locked down. I mean really, next gen consoles are dead, right? As if agreeing with me somehow the show starts almost 20 minutes late.

* They start out with the Vita and PS3, and I give Sony grudging respect for not totally abandoning their current living room system.

* Finally, we see the PS4 for the first time and it’s.. a box! A black box! Well that wasn’t surprising at all.

* I start to zone out as the guy on the stage talks about the PS4 as an entertainment ecosystem (ugh), where there’s movies for GAMERS and television for GAMERS and music for GAMERS. It’s entertainment — for gamers! Like games. Only not.

* Ooh, PS4 allows for self-published indie games. Hey, there are the guys who made Bastion talking about their new game Transistor. And someone from Vancouver’s own Klei Entertainment playing Don’t Starve! And Octodad. And, oh my god, OddWorld Inhabitants. (Also Outlast by Red Barrels.) Even I have to admit that PS4 is looking great for indie titles.

* Sony talks about a bunch of games that I don’t really care about but many people do, namely The Elder Scrolls Online, Final Fantasy XV, and Kingdom Hearts 3.

* This is going long, and ugh, they just brough yet another executive to come out and talk about something. Wait, what?
*BOOM* Playstation 4 will not have disc-based DRM, which means you can share your games and buy used ones.
*BOOM* There are no always-on requirements for PS4, not even, as they gleefully point out, every 24 hours.
The crowd goes crazy (which is slightly unprofessional, yes?), and Twitter explodes with glee.


*BOOM* Playstation 4 will start at $399. Drop the mic, the show is over. And with that, Sony won E3 2013 and possibly killed Microsoft’s console dreams.

I started the day thinking consoles were dead, and ended it seriously considering a PS4. Oh E3. See you next year.

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  • Reply
    June 11, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Every year I start out the week being completely uninterested in E3, and then somehow it manages to grab my attention so I’m hanging on every press release by the end of it.

    Lots of exciting stuff, the most relevant for me being that I will almost certainly be replacing my PS3 with a PS4 as my primary Netflix machine later this year.

    Also The Epic Quest for Mighty Loot and The Division look interesting – yay Ubisoft.

  • Reply
    Mighty Viking Hamster
    June 11, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Went out and pre ordered a PS4 today – something which I never did before. This gen I only had a 360 and am quite find of it, but someone really needs to teach MS a lesson. We may be a whiny and jaded bunch but we are not idiots. Don’t try selling us features meant to screw us over.
    Also – that was not a rape joke

    • Reply
      Jessica Cook
      June 11, 2013 at 10:27 am

      I’m not much of a console gamer, but if I was I would likely be preordering a PS4 as well.

      With respect, it may have not seemed like a rape joke to you, but it did to many others including me. I don’t think it was said with malice, but it certainly was an inappropriate joke that made many people think of rape, and frankly it shouldn’t have happened. (I can say as a professional copywriter that there would have been many ways to express the same thing only without the disturbing undertones.)

      I liked this Chainsawsuit comic about the incident:

      • Reply
        Angelo Abela
        June 11, 2013 at 1:28 pm

        Why did you perceive it as a rape joke? Is it the wording? He said “Just let it happen. It will be over soon.” Is that some reference to a movie rape scene or some standard line rapists say during a rape? Would it have been different if he said “Give up, this will only take a minute”? Also many are commenting on the fact that he kicked her as because he is a man. He kicked her ass in the first round cause he worked on the game and was using a fight stick. Something which she pointed out. The fact that she was a woman had no bearing on all of this. She then proceeded to beat him up senseless in the second round. This was all scripted of course. None of them was actually playing.

        And no, I am not feigning ignorance. I really cannot see the rape reference.
        Angelo Abela´s last post: Pre-Show E3 Predictons That Are Unlikely To Happen

        • Reply
          Jessica Cook
          June 11, 2013 at 1:51 pm

          I totally understand that you are sincerely asking the question, and I’m glad you asked.

          I should say that I don’t have a problem with him beating her at the game in the first round — as you said, he is a producer (?) of the game and was using the better controller.

          Is that some reference to a movie rape scene or some standard line rapists say during a rape?

          It is absolutely a standard line! I’ll quote the Gamers Against Bigotry post about this event because I think it’s dead on: “It’s a rape joke because it is a phrase rapists use during rape and is reported later by survivors; it’s used commonly enough that a huge number of people heard him say that and immediately went “WTF” on Twitter, in their minds, and in their stomachs.” I find this also accurately represents my own experience.

          Like I said I don’t think the Microsoft dude intended to actually reference rape, but instead wanted to use gamer language to assert his domination over another player. It’s unfortunate that rape culture and gamer culture are so frequently intertwined that things like this can roll off the tongue without even realizing the greater implication for much of the audience.

          • Angelo Abela
            June 11, 2013 at 2:04 pm

            I see. Apparently there is also an internet meme with the phrase. Did not know about this. In that case the comment was way out of line. Doubt it was used in ignorance since it’s not exactly conventional wording.

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Ed@Yuiphone Mirrors Edge
    July 19, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Let’s talk about Mirror’s Edge 2. 2 was announced at E3 and looks to have Faith back. The game is very innovative and I love the free running style. It’s in development so I am not finding much on it yet but from what I can see I’ll bet it will be worth buying. Cheers!
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