Now we know all the gladiators that will be duking it out in the arena to crown the next winner of the console generation. The Wii U is the only one who’s seen battle and he has the scars to prove it, having taken big shots from developers and sales reports. The PS4 is stepping into the arena holding high the banner of community, depending on the arena crowd to give it’s social features and “SHARE” button the strength it needs. The Xbox One comes in hoping that a strategy of integration will allow it to fit seamlessly into living rooms and gain strength from a massive install base. The gladiators put on brief displays of their capabilities through small press conferences before going off to the side. The crowd is already in a fever pitch, taking their bets on who will win the war, but only a fool bets now before we've seen the most telling sign of a console’s success, the element that has supported the champions through the generations: the games.
That, my countrymen, is why talking about winners now is useless, because only a fool bets before E3.
Many people have been disheartened about the next generation with all the talk of features and little to no discussion about the games. Wii U has been out for six months without any real news of major game releases past what’s already been promised, leaving fans to comment on potential instead of substance. The PS4 gave a good indication what it’s launch lineup will be like, but showed nothing past a few trailers and the promise of more reveals at E3. The Xbox One reveal concentrated on the console’s features and left next to no information on what kind of games it might play, including a rather bizarre Call of Duty presentation talking about how fish scatter and action shots of a dog’s mouth closing. What people seem to be missing is that the lack of games is all part of the strategy. Everyone is holding back and this looks to be one of the most important E3’s in history.
The biggest announcement about E3 so far is what’s not going to be there: a Nintendo press conference. Yes, Nintendo looks to be forgoing the usual spectacle of the big stage for a more Direct approach, discussing a number of core titles such as Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, and the next Mario on 3DS. This approach has the risk of getting lost in the shuffle of shiny that is E3, but that does mean it can potentially pull the rug out from under the entire event. Really, does Nintendo need an auditorium to get us excited for their IPs? Would the announcement of a new Mario, Zelda, or Star Fox game truly go unnoticed by the gaming press and public were it not broadcasted on a giant screen? It feels like Nintendo is going to let the software do the talking with this style of presentation and it could be their secret in the long run in a generation more excited about tweets and voice commands than core gameplay.
Sony is still going to have a big press conference full of all the glitz and glamour one would expect from Sony revealing anything, but they’re in an interesting spot. They have already shown off some of the heavy hitters for launch day such as Killzone: Shadow Fall and Infamous: Second Son. What they haven’t really shown yet, however, is gameplay (or their system, for that matter). Yes, Killzone and Watch Dogs got to show off a little gameplay, but that’s pretty much it. The big challenge for E3 is not only showing off more gameplay, but how those games are going to be interacting with all the features of the PS4. E3 might be a good time to let some of the press not only play some of the floor demos, but let them press that Share button to flood YouTube with PS4 footage.
We've got two big systems launching in the fall and Nintendo looking like they've got nothing to lose. It’s almost time for the gladiators to duke it out, ladies and gentlemen. This coming E3 is going to be a beautifully bloody battle with the early lead in the next console generation on the line, but only one can stand tall. Who among the big three will win E3? Perhaps a fourth warrior will step forward and pull a huge upset, like the Ouya or a debuting Steam Box? The fight begins in a week. I promise that you will be entertained.