Sony’s E3 Letdown

Sony’s 2016 E3 press conference was an amazing experience. The announcements of a new God of War, a new Spider-Man, and Hideo Kojima’s first project apart from Konami were huge. Unfortunately, it would seem those announcements were premature. Not only did Sony fail to announce anything close to the scale of last year’s games, we’ll have to wait nearly another year before we actually get to play any of those big games that made us so excited last year. Sony announced very few new IPs and those that they did announce were either PSVR exclusive titles or were underwhelming in their presentation. Why so much time was dedicated to the PSVR, a device that only a fraction of Playstation owners have, is beyond me, but don’t think I’m not excited for Sony’s support of PSVR. I’d much rather the headset stick around long enough to spawn future iterations than to be stranded on Vita island, but if your coup de grace is going to be gameplay for a game we’ve already seen, followed by an announcement that it isn’t coming out until next year, maybe you ought to spend a little more time on something that the majority of fans can look forward to. The only game with a confirmed release date that isn’t small, a remake, or an expansion that we have to look forward to this year is Days Gone. Days Gone looks good, and maybe I’m being a little nitpicky since Horizon has already cemented itself as Sony’s 2017 flagship game, but why announce games like God of War, and Spider-Man, show gameplay, and not release them for another two years? I think the root of the problem is the leak epidemic in the gaming industry. It’s almost impossible to keep a secret anymore, and thanks to social media, once it’s out, it’s out everywhere. I suppose in a way, I can’t blame Sony for showing all their cards last year. If they hadn’t, it’s probable that someone would have shown them for Sony, and robbed them of what was a truly an incredible conference. From a marketing standpoint, they made the right call last year. No one who knows anything about the industry wasn’t expecting Death Stranding this year, so that doesn’t sting as bad as the others, but I’m left wondering why Sony really needed to go on stage this year. Skyrim VR and Shadow of the Colossus HD, are cool, but where is TLOU2? What happened to Sucker Punch? Why did Sony leave its biggest franchises out to dry without announcing any new ideas? it looks like Sony is done this year, but 2018 looks like a good year to be a Playstation owner.

Snarkalicious: A Look at E3 2016 – The Good

In this second segment of Snarkalicious, we’ll be looking at the two companies whose conferences at E3 this year offered the most quality to gamers and investors alike. Sony hit all of its bases as far as games and hardware goes, and Nintendo left everyone speechless with its long-awaited LoZ trailer. Let’s get into it.

Sony

Sony once again came through with a stellar conference this year and a ton of gaming highlights. First, Sony gave a final release date for The Last Guardian in October–yes, October 2016–shocking and delighting fans. “I didn’t think it would ever actually come out!” said one reporter in between fits of laughing, crying, and vomiting. Sony also showed a trailer for the upcoming God of War game, featuring Kratos as a warrior-turned-Christian seminary student. This game is said to bring the character’s growth throughout the series to fruition, a promise that leaves fans wondering just what brand of pissed off will this new Kratos be?

As far as new announcements, Sony left fans in utter delight with two huge new gaming developments. First, we got a look at the legendary Hideo Kojima’s new project, Death Standing starring Norman Reedus. I have a joke for this, but I won’t blaspheme Kojima with it because I’m scared this game will end up like Silent Hills (#NeverForget) if we don’t respect it enough. Second, Insomniac (developers of InFamous) is making a new open-world Spider-Man game that everyone is collectively losing their minds about after seeing the trailer. I’ve seen it too, and I must confess: it looks like a really good animated movie. Hopefully it’s also a game!

A new IP also received an announcement and an actual gameplay trailer, Days Gone. “Oh, it’s like The Last of Us,” said fans. “No,” replied executives, “it’s a new IP with a totally unique world and–”

“Hush, fam. It’s like the Last of Us. Just let it happen.”

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare was also shown. It is definitely a Call of Duty game.

One of the more fun surprises from Sony this year was the new Resident Evil featuring a first-person view. A demo was also released on a small scale, showing off the wonderful graphics, gameplay, and atmosphere that all indicate a return to RE’s survival-horror setting. “Weird, it’s almost as if the fanbase enjoyed the older games or something,” said one executive before almost being crucified.

Finally, we saw some great gameplay of Horizon Zero Dawn, a futuristic RPG style exclusive that looks like a lot of fun. I, however, am already looking to its sequel, Bologna Wheelbarrow Jellyfish.

Two big news stories about hardware came out of Sony’s conference as well, though probably not the type of news you may expect. The rumored PS4K or 4.5 was absent, a breath of fresh air to anyone who doesn’t hate their money. Playstation VR was also announced to be debuting at an average price of $400, a severe price cut compared to such VR systems as the HTC Vive or Occulus Rift. It seems like Sony is trying to make VR a much more financially feasible feature of its hardware, a welcome concession to gamers who don’t have money to blow but still want to try out the newest “wave” in gaming. While I remain skeptical of VR gaming myself, it felt good to know that at least Sony isn’t expecting to sell our firstborn for the gimmick despite the glorious locks of hair and cutting jawline that mine shall have.

Nintendo

As someone who isn’t really involved in Nintendo’s games, I absolutely loved how strong their showing was due to it being one of the lowest-effort conferences we have seen in recent years. Quantity-wise, Nintendo had a rather modest showing; however, in terms of quality, its offerings blew everyone away. Three major things punctuated Nintendo’s conference for me:

  1. Lack of news about the Nintendo NX. While several people saw this as a negative, I saw it as an important decision from Nintendo. Rather than bombarding its fanbase with a new console they’ll have to invest in soon, Nintendo focused on what they are able to offer gamers right now. The NX will debut eventually, and it will have all kinds of questions and controversy attached to it when it does; why bother with all of that now?
  2. The new IP Ever Oasis. While this announcement was overshadowed by obvious fanfare over a different franchise, I am legitimately excited for this project. Nintendo does not announce new IP’s often, but the vast majority of them are excellent products that offer entertaining gameplay and quality investments, such as Splatoon.
  3. Breath of the Wild debut. Look, this is what everyone wanted to see. While many people decry that the trailer was long overdue–which by all means, the game itself is long overdue–this was easily the biggest talking point from E3. The game looks fantastic, and the trailer even featured some in-game content, a refreshing change of pace from the pre-rendered cinematic trailers that usually plague E3.

At the end of the day, Nintendo gave its fans what it wanted. Could they have brought more to the table? Probably. But at the end of the day, gamers care about quality over quantity. Microsoft announced loads of things, but their announcements lacked flavor, originality, and any semblance of what console gamers have been asking for. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Nintendo and Sony proved the old Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he won’t give a flying crap about new gaming hardware.”