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Posts Tagged ‘sony

Sony Acquires Content Streaming Specialist Gaikai For $380 million – What This Means For Playstation Gaming

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It’s a done thing – though don’t expect much from the deal until the PS4/Orbis makes it’s next-generation bow.

It was supposed to be announced at Sony’s E3 press conference but it was not to be; instead nearly a month later, Sony and cloud gaming specialist Gaikai have confirmed that a deal has been struck for the Japanese hardware manufacturer to own the Dave Perry run outfit for the price of $380 million.

The purchase of Gaikai includes all of their technology and infrastructure; effectively providing Sony with a ready-made large network of datacentres to deliver streaming content to its consumers.  More specifically, it fully enables them to branch out and create a full-on, bonafide cloud gaming platform.

Andrew House, group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment had this to say regarding the deal:

“By combining Gaikai’s resources including its technological strength and engineering talent with SCE’s extensive game platform knowledge and experience, SCE will provide users with unparalleled cloud entertainment experiences.  SCE will deliver a world-class cloud-streaming service that allows users to instantly enjoy a broad array of content ranging from immersive core games with rich graphics to casual content anytime, anywhere on a variety of internet-connected devices.”

Cutting through the blurb, what this really means is that Sony will be able to supply a cloud-gaming service to its customers which would likely include the streamable PS3 demos and a smattering of PS2 and PSOne library content, as has been rumoured already.  Such a service would be a tremendous boon for the company as it would not only allow them to embellish the forthcoming PS4 and the struggling Playstation Vita handheld with a great new feature that would enable widespread access to a whole library of PSOne and PS2 content, it would also allow them to monetize non-Playstation users too; with the streaming service also being made available to tablets and smartphones.

I would also wager a significant amount of money that the service would be a Playstation Plus exclusive so as to further incentivise that initiative and get that many more subscribers on board.

The specifics for the deal have yet to manifest themselves, but until they do; the potential of the deal is blatant and obvious for all to see.  I’ll have more on this as and when the particulars become available, until that comes to pass however, feel free to try out the Gaikai cloud gaming experience by clicking on the Gaikai logo below:

Written by bitsnark

July 2, 2012 at 9:45 am

Ubisoft to Bring The Big Guns To Eurogamer Expo 2012 – Assassins Creed 3, Far Cry 3 and Just Dance 4 All Playable

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THIS is one reason why you should be heading to the EG Expo this year – playable Assassins Creed 3. Playable Far Cry 3, also at the Expo, is another.

The Eurogamer Network has announced that Ubisoft will be present at their annual Eurogamer Expo show this year in some force indeed.  Assassins Creed 3, Far Cry 3 and Just Dance 4 (which will have a bus all to itself) as well as other Ubisoft titles will be all playable at the event.  Bravo indeed.

Really, if you consider yourself any sort of gamer you should come along – it’s chuffing brilliant.  You get to play the latest games before they are released, attend developer sessions with some of the industry’s best talent, unearth some fine independent games in their Indie Games Arcade and have packets of Chilli Heatwave Doritos tossed at you every time you try and leave the place among other things.

It’s brilliant I tell thee.  Grab your tickets here before they all disappear like Jimmy Carr’s stand-up career.

Like games? Got a ticket? No? SORT IT OUT.

The Eurogamer Expo is due to take place this year on September 27-30 at Earls Court in London.

Written by bitsnark

June 22, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Vita Is Dead, Long Live Playstation 3 – Sony E3 2012 Press Conference Analysis

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Sony had a fairly decent presser if you’re a PS3 owner. Less so if you’re the owner of a shiny new Playstation Vita handheld.

It’s obvious to anybody with a clue that Sony just like Microsoft, certainly held back a great deal of announcements for next year where like the Redmond based software giant, they’ll announce their foray into the next-generation of console hardware. Unlike Microsoft however, whose presser reeked exclusively of the fetid smell of coasting this generation out, Sony also had to ensure that they put across a strong ‘Vita isn’t dead’ message; a crucial objective given the struggling fortunes endured by the handheld powerhouse recently.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how they fared shall we?

Playstation Vita – It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE! Oh wait, no, no. It was just a twitch.

This little fella needs all the help it can get. Someone forgot to send Sony the memo it seems.

The market hasn’t been kind to the Playstation Vita. It was supposed to be the machine that was going to triumphantly put two fingers up to the App Store and its ilk with home console quality gaming on the move and the finest visuals yet seen on a handheld device. That however, remains somewhat of a pipe dream; as the machine struggles at retail due to a relatively high price-point and lack of any real killer titles.

Sensible pricing and killer titles – the two key components of any successful console, handheld or otherwise should have been the crux of Sony’s bid to rejuvenate consumer interest in the Playstation Vita. As it was, their attempt to give the beleaguered handheld a shot in the arm, came across as both limp and unsatisfying with no sign of any decently priced bundles, discount initiatives or any real new titles for them to caw about outside of the previously expected Call of Duty and Assassins Creed spin-offs.

This was all we got to see at the presser for one of the Vita’s two great white third party hopes for the Vita. A logo. Soak it in bitch, soak it in.

Really, in retrospect, Assassins Creed 3: Liberation and Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified, is all they had to show for the machine and even then, all we really got was a logo unveiling of the latter and a gameplay video of the former that barely crossed the one minute mark. That was basically the brunt of their whole Vita push during the conference; two games – two spin-off games no less. Now, before you leap down by throat and gut me from the inside with your serrated dual-shock controllers, having two entries from what will surely be two of 2012’s most popular properties obviously isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a touch unspectacular when it isn’t being backed up by ANY other franchises – first party or otherwise.

Where was the God of War Vita title that is supposedly in production? Or the Killzone title that was shown last year? Or the Little Big Planet title that was announced at the same time as the handheld itself was? Where was any real, new first-party investment on Sony’s behalf in the platform other than the Playstation All-Stars port that every man and his dog knew was coming? I find it completely fucking crazy that they would attempt to realign in a positive fashion, consumer perception of their struggling handheld without some seriously compelling first party software to back it up.

Even third-party wise, a great deal of new games for the Vita simply just weren’t seen at the Sony conference and were sorely missed as a result. Instead of being part of the conference, Vita versions of games such as the newly announced Need for Speed: Most Wanted were relegated to footnotes in the respective publisher’s own press conferences. Really, rather than dispelling the fact that the Vita needs more decent, quality software, the slim pickings which were on show did little else then embolden the prevailing thought that the machine really has very little out, or coming out for it.

There are actually other third party titles coming out for the Vita y’know. Honest guv.

They didn’t even have a showreel for heaven’s sake, which would have been useful to at least highlight and remind folks about some of the forthcoming games like Persona 4: The Golden, Street Fighter X Tekken and more besides.

Some people have been keen to point out that this was Sony playing it safe and that there would be more unveils further down the road, but really this wasn’t playing it safe; this was tantamount to Sony putting the Vita out to die.

I mean really, they wouldn’t have had to do very much either to make things considerably better either; it’s already a well-known fact that Vita owners are craving HD collections, so why not feed that need and showcase the likes of Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter HD collections running on the Vita? Sure, it’s double-dipping perhaps, but just about everybody I’ve spoken to would prefer those sorts of experiences in the palms of their hands rather than on their PS3 and let’s face it, the Vita *really* needs those software sales, so it seems like a total no-brainer.

Anybody who believes that these two games wouldn’t be IDEALLY suited to the Vita, needs to be sectioned. Immediately.

Price-wise too, people are reluctant to buy into the hardware because its base price (not to mention the still insane price of Sony’s propriety memory cards) is still relatively high and all of the bundles that currently exist for it are utterly shit and to that end, Sony made no real headway in addressing the issue; unless of course you live in France where quite puzzlingly, they were given a fifty Euro discount off the machine for two weeks.

Absolutely pointless in the extreme.

THIS was about as exciting as Sony’s first party support for the Vita at E3 got. Wonderful. I feel better about that Vita purchase already.

Most alarmingly, this was the ideal (and possibly last) window of opportunity for Sony to reinvigorate the handheld since next year Sony need to be all about the Playstation 4/Orbis, in order to attempt to grab some a share of the next-gen attention that Microsoft will be openly and loudly grabbing for. I mean come on now, the machine is not even a year old and is in need of some real, heavy support and really needs sorting out in order to make the machine even remotely relevant to gamers tightly clutching their 3DS’s and swanky smartphone devices. As it stands, they completely failed in that task and going on their E3 showcase alone, I simply don’t see one or two third-party titles making a significant overall impact to the fortunes of the embattled handheld.

Playstation 3 – First Party Crashers

If the Playstation Vita; a format desperately in need of a boost of first-party support, was sadly missing it then you wouldn’t have to look far to find where it all went. Indeed, PS3 owners were in for a treat as Sony showed off the bombastic triumvirate of God of War: Ascension, Beyond: Two Souls and The Last of Us.

God of War: Ascension held little surprise for the audience but nevertheless showed itself to be a formidable offering. Showcasing some gorgeously violent combat, superb visuals and seemingly what appears to be a very robust and enjoyable multiplayer mode, the game looks to be effortlessly capable of dutifully fulfilling that awkward spot as a worthy follow-up to God of War 3, but not the next ‘real’ canonical entry in the series which is presumably being prepped for the next-generation Playstation home console.

Beyond: Two Souls, the latest title from Heavy Rain code-house Quantic Dream, turned out to be every bit the cinematic wonder that we all thought it would be. Boasting some of the best visuals probably ever to be seen in this current generation of console hardware, the demonstration of David Cage’s newest opus went predictably heavy on cinematic bombast and equally predictably light on any sort of gameplay expose’. With some hugely richly detailed environments, highly sophisticated modeled faces that would put LA Noire to shame and an extremely nuanced and delicately subtle performance by a digital Ellen Page (who seemingly has a supremely polished cranium), the game never lacked anything in stagger-factor whatsoever. However with that said, the lack of any real gameplay was disappointing yet somewhat understandable given the developer pedigree.

Finally, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us (the one with NOT Ellen Page) painted us a spectacularly grim picture of a post-apocalyptic future; giving us our first look at the game in motion. Visually, the game looks to be on par with the beautiful Uncharted titles that the company is mainly known for, but really, it’s the tense atmosphere and unrelentingly brutal and dynamic combat system that are the stars of the show. Showcasing a makeshift inventory system which allows you to combine every-day items for deadly effect (see the improve Molotov cocktail in the video) and an AI partner that reacts dynamically to the events which unfold (see the helpful stabbing she gives to a soldier wrestling with the main character), the game looks to be every bit as cinematic as it does eminently playable. In short: I can’t fucking wait for it and for me, it was easily the highlight of Sony’s first party offerings for the PS3.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about Playstation: All-Stars or Ratchet & Clank: Q Force. Sure enough All-Stars is a solid enough Smash Bros esque mascot crossover fest, but outside of its highly touted cross-play feature with the also announced Vita version of the title, it’s pretty apparent that it lacks both the gravitas and the appeal of its aforementioned Sony stablemates.  The same thing applies to the announced, but not shown, Ratchet & Clank: Q Force; with developer Insomniac games promising a return to the gameplay style of old that brought them to the dance.  Really the fact that it was only mentioned and not shown in any sort of meaningful capacity, doesn’t exactly say much about Sony’s confidence in the title.

The US version is subtitled ‘Full Frontal Assault’. The UK version is subtitled ‘Q Force’. Just, wow.

Despite this though, they do have one advantage over their three more enticing brethren; both of them are actually coming out this year. So then, despite the spectacular nature of their demonstrations, the sad fact eventually sinks in that you won’t be playing these games this year and it really serves to underline the fact that despite their strong first-party showing, Sony actually have very little for you to enjoy this year.

The Last Guardian. If this guy isn’t next-gen bound i’ll eat my hat; or something vaguely hat-like.

Oh and the very distinct lack of The Last Guardian goodness was duly noted; anybody who expects it to appear on this generation of Sony hardware is clearly kidding themselves at this point; especially given the recent omission from the developer that they are having a ‘myriad of technical issues’ with the highly anticipated title.

Next year then.

Playstation Move – No Motion To Carry It

No decent Playstation Move support at E3? Kevin Butler wouldn’t stand for that shit.

It seems that Sony no longer wants to compete with Kinect, or at the very least, they aren’t too hot on talking about it. Microsoft on the one hand, seem completely hell-bent on including Kinect functionality in just about every title they can and forcing developers to smile and wax lyrical through gritted teeth about it. Sony however, seem a lot less keen to do so and additionally, appear a lot less interested in getting developers to continue sing the praises of the motion control device (the last guy who did was Ken Levine at last year’s E3 regarding Move integration into the forthcoming Bioshock: Infinite).

This year’s E3 presser did little to destroy the illusion that Sony don’t have much to say regarding the Playstation Move and despite some *relatively* solid sales numbers, you would think that they would have had more to show for the device than merely a sequel to 2010’s Sports Champions. In contrast to the previous year, where we had an enthusiastic (but again lone) demonstration of Sorcery, Sony’s presser was lacking – just a trailer announcing the game with minimal fanfare and that was your lot.

At this juncture, nobody should be surprised if Sony doesn’t opt to utilise Move as transitional technology (like Microsoft are doing with Kinect) for the next generation Playstation. They just come across as barely willing to give it the time of day, let alone any attempt to re-create a groundswell of interest in the thing at a developer level.

Playstation Plus – Pay It Forward

More free shit than you can shake a hairy stick at. Bravo Sony!

Playstation Plus has for the most part, never been much of a lure – at least to me anyway. Here was a service that you paid for monthly, quarterly or annually which gave you the odd free game, discounted game or beta access to a game that you didn’t really care too much about. Then E3 2012 happened and Sony went full-tilt with ‘Hey! We have lots of free shit to tempt you with!” and it worked.

A whole raft of games suddenly turned up on the service absolutely fucking free – the likes of Infamous 2, Warhammer 40K: Space Marine and the newly released Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown all together proved to be irresistible lure for many folks (including myself) and really, if this stuff continues (and the monthly game swap out plan suggests it will), I can see my new Playstation Plus subscription enduring for a good while yet.

Brilliant stuff.

Sony @ E3 2012 – Conclusion

Despite the considerable shortcomings with their Vita showing, Sony still managed to come across more like a company that cares about the current generation of gamers than Microsoft does by comparison. The demonstration of three highly anticipated, spectacular first-party offerings did much to bolster the perception that they remain invested in the current generation of Playstation and despite the fact they won’t arrive until 2013, it nonetheless speaks volumes about their support for the existing machine going forward through the next year.

While it was largely impossible to shake the feeling that Sony is saving its biggest guns for next year’s next-gen showdown, they really should have done better with supporting the Vita. It needs every bit of help it can get right now and the almost complete lack of demonstrable first and third party support at the presser, will do little else to mitigate the stymieing of growth that the handheld is current experiencing.

Overall though, the presence of some solid first party love for the PS3, bolstered by the new PS Move incentives wasn’t quite enough in my estimation erase the nasty taste that the PS Vita shafting left in my mouth. Sony should have gone for broke with new software announcements and bundles for their struggling handheld this year, since next year, the focus will irrecoverably have to shift to avoid being upstaged by Microsoft when they lock horns with them for their next-generation debut.  Hopefully, we’ll get some more Vita love in the coming weeks and months, but as far as E3 2012 goes, Sony had their chance and blew it.

Written by bitsnark

June 21, 2012 at 6:40 pm

E3 2012 – Persona 4: The Golden For PS Vita Receives A New Trailer

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One of the biggest reasons to make the core sit up and notice the PS Vita when it was originally announced, was the promise of a conversion of cult-favourite Atlus JRPG Persona 4 to the system.

Emboldened with new features, graphics and missions, the game looks to be everybit the wet dream that Persona fans thought it would be.

Me? I’ve had far too much caffeine and far too little sleep to adequtely break down just what the fuck is going on in the trailer below.

Maybe you will have better luck:

Persona 4: The Golden is due in Autumn this year, exclusively on Playstation Vita.

Written by bitsnark

June 5, 2012 at 9:18 am

E3 2012 – Sony Press Conference: The Last Of Us Gameplay Footage Gets Shown – One Of The Games Of The Show So Far.

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Words really can’t do justice to the intense, desperate and bleak brutality that the Naughty Dog developed title, The Last Of Us, puts in front of you.

The world that our father and daughter protagonists live in is nasty, harrowing and largely hopeless with the level of violence employed being an approximation of what is required to survive.

The gameplay that was shown for The Last Of Us really blew me away; gorgeously detailed environs, atmospheric sound and chatter, a great buddy-style combat system and what seems to be a hugely dynamic and intuitive inventory system.

All of these things add up to make The Last Of Us one of my most highly anticipated games for the PS3 next year and when you watch the trailer below, it’ll be one of yours too.

For sure.

The Last Of Us is due to be released exclusively on the PS3 sometime in 2013.




Written by bitsnark

June 5, 2012 at 2:53 am

E3 2012 – Sony Press Conference: Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation & Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified Announced For Playstation Vita.

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Sony’s handheld powerhouse, the Playstation Vita, got an AAA boost of support from Ubisoft and Activision who confirmed that PS Vita versions of their forthcoming games would be available this year for the machine.

Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation appears to use the Assassin’s Creed 3 framework, but shifts the setting and character to New Orleans and puts a heroine in place of the usual stoic hero that the games have had up until now.

The game looks very comparable to it’s home console counterparts and will surely be another feather in the Vita’s cap come this fourth quarter.

Look at the trailer below and tell me that it doesn’t impress (if you say it doesn’t you’re clearly a liar and I don’t know you):

In addition to Assassin’s Creed making it’s bow on the Vita, Activision confirmed that Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified, a ‘true Call of Duty experience in the palm of your hand’ will be available by the time the year is out, but no more detail was provided sadly.

Assassins Creed 3: Liberation and Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified should both arrive exclusively for the Playstation Vita before the year is out.

E3 2012 – Sony Press Conference: Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale PS3/Vita Cross-Platform Play Shown On-Stage

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The previously announced Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale title was confirmed to be coming to the PS Vita during Sony’s E3 Presser.

Better yet, not only does the game not look totally shit (not totally), but PS3 and PS Vita owners can fight against each other on the crossover brawler through crossplay.

Additionally, Nathan Drake and the Big Daddy from Bioshock were announced as secret characters for the title.

Have a look at the trailer and on-stage demonstration below:

Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is due on PS3 and Vita this Christmas.  

Written by bitsnark

June 5, 2012 at 1:38 am

E3 2012: Microsoft, Sony & Nintendo Press Conference Preview

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It’s that time of year again – where game journos everywhere somehow manage to write these huge, in-depth articles with their one free hand.

With E3 2012 due to start next week and with a number of publishers kicking off their own pre-E3 showings beforehand (yes Konami, I’m looking in your direction), I figured that now was as good a time as any to lay out on the table my expectations of the ‘big three’ for the show.

I’ll be taking a look at what you can expect from their E3 press conferences and playing a bit of devils advocate when it comes to predicting what might happen with each of them.

And likely getting all it horribly wrong.

So! Let’s get this shizz on the road then shall we?

This year’s E3 effectively marks the lull before the storm.

That storm is the next-generation of consoles from the ‘big two’ which are due to arrive from late 2013 onwards and it’ll be at next year’s E3 that Sony and Microsoft respectively, start firing their inital salvo of next-gen bliss at the public at large.

Until that happens, expect more denials and ‘we don’t comment on speculation’ than you can shake a hairy stick at; since until each of those platform holders announce their next-gen plans, they’ll look to keep the focus on the hardware that they have out in the market right now.

That also means, don’t expect any next-gen hardware announcements at E3 from either Microsoft or Sony as was previously rumoured. So for the love of Cthulu; temper your expectations accordingly and don’t start whining when the inevitable lack of an Xbox 720 or a PS4 unveiling causes you to cry into your beer – it simply isn’t gonna happen this year.

Right, we done with that? Brilliant.

The only company really that is going to be unveiling anything remotely resembling new hardware will be Nintendo, who, being the very fortunate sods that they are, will be getting a second bite at the console unveiling apple that they so cackhandedly fluffed last year.

So in addition to being the (hopefully proper) coming out party for the WiiU; the focus on new software and services for the here and now will likely form the crux of any showing that both Sony and Microsoft put on at E3 this year.

With that in mind, let’s cast our eye over first what potentially the Redmond based software giant will come up with this year.

Microsoft Press Conference Monday, June 4th – 5:30PM BST

A relatively muted performance from Microsoft seems likely this year, given that most of their eggs currently reside in the 2013 next-gen basket.

Make no mistake about it, if you didn’t know what the centerpiece of their showing was going to be this year then you are blind, ignorant or stupid. Or a fruity combination of the three.

It will be of course, the 343 Industries developed Halo 4.

Halo 4 – Start the fight.  Again.

Halo 4 is interesting because it really is the first major Halo title (Anniversary not be counted for obvious reasons) not developed by previous long-term custodians of the series Bungie, but instead by 343 Industries; a mish-mash of ex-Bungie staff and other folk from MIcrosoft Studios. The effect that the change in codeshop will have is already quite evident.

Whereas with previous Bungie developed games in the series, like Halo 3 which introduced the innovative ‘Forge’ mode, this newest 343 developed title appears to instead prefer to take pages out of others playbooks instead of looking to itself for new innovations.

Indeed, the first in the brand new ‘Reclaimer Trilogy ‘, is to have new single and multiplayer features that sound, familiar, for lack of a better word. Features such as a perk system, a progressional player system (where you can accrue XP), armour and weapon modifications and the uninspired named ‘Spartan Ops’, have been seen before in another game that i’m sure isn’t a million miles from your thoughts right now,

Still, despite the apparent lack of creative vigour in what otherwise remains a solid feature-set, the game is apparently set to a deliver a sandbox FPS experience much more in line with what was seen in the original Halo. It falls therefore, to Microsoft to ensure that their Halo 4 demonstration knocks it out of the fucking park; leaving people with a very real contender in their minds to Black Ops 2 almost inevitable Q4 domination.

Halo still has a ton of consumer pull as an IP and Microsoft know it and so going on that logic, I really hope that they make the biggest noise about this game that they possibly can.

I would certainly like to see a great deal of in-game footage from the single-player campaign as well as a few multiplayer levels on the showfloor, so that at this stage (just five months away from release), folks can get the measure of the Halo 4 experience and just why they need in their life and in their 360 come November.

It’ll probably also give the BBC News a couple of new logos to use in their reports too.

Expect to see this guy a lot at the Microsoft E3 presser. A whole fucking lot.

New Gears Of War – Didn’t we say goodbye?

Fulfilling the wet, testosterone dreams of Gears fiends everywhere, comes the news that there will be one more Gears of War title released this generation. Quite literally leaked just a few moments ago at the time of writing, this is the one game that Microsoft could nominate to share some of the top billing spotlight with Halo 4.

Apart from the fact that we can expect a ‘new Gears of War at E3’, we know practically nothing about what this new entry in entry in the ever-popular series will bring outside of the mysterious cover shown by Game Informer as seen below:

Cuffs? Yeah, that’ll be Marcus Fenix doing his prison rounds then.

The current rumour is that while Epic are beavering away on a new Gears of War trilogy for the next Xbox, using the Unreal Engine 4 no less, Bulletstorm developers People Can Fly have been given the reigns to develop a series of prequels for the franchise.  This is not a bad thing; not a bad thing at all considering how well Bulletstorm turned out.  Nevertheless, I expect that we’ll see a trailer of the game, which may even be entirely CG just to set the scene, but I doubt we’ll see much more than that due to Microsoft wanting Halo 4 to have it’s time in the sun and not worry about cannabilsing the sales of a fellow first-party IP. 

Despite the lack of any real visual stimulus outside of the aforementioned trailer however, I would expect the first real gameplay details of the game to be unveiled.

Black Ops II DLC timed exclusivity – keeping the sheep at home

Expect Microsoft to once again be in full ‘grabbing bastard’ mode when it comes to securing timed exclusivity for DLC for this latest entry in the Call of Duty franchise.

Call of Duty titles on the PS3 have, to Microsoft’s advantage, been largely shoddy when compared to their 360 counterparts; hampered by bugs and poor online performance and just on that alone, it’s easy to see why people mostly plump for the 360 version each and every year (the 360 pad certainly lends itself better to the FPS as well, but I digress). Being the shrewd and largely sly individuals that they are, it makes sense that for this year, Microsoft once again clamber back upon the DLC timed exclusivity wagon and stick it to Sony.

Really, I’d be mortally surprised if they didn’t do this, especially in the light of Black Ops 2 being the ‘cuts and pastes from MW3 article’, ‘most pre-ordered Call of Duty title of all time’. So yeah, count on timed exclusivity and count on Microsoft making a big deal about it by positioning Black Ops 2 themed 360 hardware bundles come Yuletide.

Kinecting with the masses 

*Insert Harry Potter Kinect, Fable the Journey, Kung-fu Super star and London 2012 logos*

As has been traditional for the last three conferences, you should fully expect a solid focus (for better or worse) on Kinect games in development. Principally, titles which echo popular culture such as Harry Potter Kinect and London 2012 will be given top billing and inevitably, some utterly cringe-worthy on-stage demonstrations too.

As well as the popular stuff though, I would also expect a spotlight on some of the more quietly promising stuff too, such as Lionhead’s Fable spin-off, Fable: The Journey and the recently announced Kung-fu Superstar.

One game I wouldn’t expect to see as part of the Kinect lineup is the Crytek developed Roman battler ‘Ryze’, since by all accounts that would appear to be shifted into the realm of the next-gen Xbox and will likely be positioned as a launch title for that machine; likely serving to highlight the improvements of potentially more advanced Kinect hardware over the current iteration.

I would expect a much greater focus on core and non-toddler Kinect titles (we probably won’t see the likes of Pixar Rush or Disneyland Adventures this year) this year, along with a surprise or two from Microsoft’s internal studios (Rare) and maybe from a third party such as Ubisoft.

Ultimately However, if you’re not fan of Kinect, expect to be bored shitless – the device remains central to Microsoft’s plan to elongating the life of their seven year console and as such, will be given a great deal of showtime to further realise that objective and increase sales (19m and counting apparently).

Oh and Milo is still as dead as a doornail, so don’t even bring that up (though the technology does live on in part, within other games such as Fable: The Journey).

Expect a more varied offering of Kinect games at this year’s show.

A Light Smattering Of Non-Kinect Focused First Party Exclusives – We need more!

Remember the famous “Ten games that you can only get on 360” part of their E3 2009 conference? I do, and many other 360 owners do too, but since their obsession with Kinect began back in 2009, Microsoft’s E3 line-up has consisted of progressively less and less non-Kinect, first and even third party offerings.

The whole approach, quite frankly, is a bit batshit given the fact that Microsoft are looking to anchor themselves as a true bastion of core gaming. They really need to realise that a LARGE proportion of core gamers who own their console, just aren’t sold on Kinect right now – they want a solid line-up of both first party and third party offerings across full retail and XBLA formats.

However, I just don’t think Microsoft are going to deliver on either front in the volume that we’d like.

I expect to see the likes of Forza spin-off Forza Horizon to be present and accounted for, alongside the admittedly middling to slim possibility of a Halo 2 HD remastering being unveiled. Apart from that… i’m not really sure what to expect. Both Fable IV and a true Forza sequel will likely receive their showing as part of Microsoft’s E3 2013 next-gen presser. That’s effectively two of their primary first party franchises out of action for this year – three if you include the recently leaked Gears of War title which, and let’s be realsitic here, doesn’t have a hope in hell of making a 2012 release.

On the XBLA side of things, I expect the usual Summer of Arcade sizzle reel, with Tequila Games’ tremendous looking Deadlight being the undoubted highlight. If I had to guess, other standouts would include competitive FPS Counter Strike: Global Offensive, the wonderful Retro City Rampage, novel FPS Hybrid and maybe one surprise.

Which may, or may not be Killer Instinct HD. Or Shadow Complex 2. Or Infinity Blade Kinect.

Seriously though, I think Summer of Arcade will be pretty decent this year, i’m just not counting on a great many surprises; if any at all.

Xbox Live: More entertainment and social apps that nobody outside of Uncle Sam’s realm gives two shits about

Expect to see some more of this stuff. You’re probably not going to be able to use it.  Great eh?

One thing that has continued to crop up with alarming regularity at Microsoft’s E3 pressers of late, is the inclusion of more and more social and entertainment apps into the 360 dashboard such as Facebook, Twitter, UFCTV and HBO:GO. Again, I would expect more apps of a similar ilk to also be announced at the presser, further reinforcing the Redmond giant’s desire to make the Xbox 360 the center of living room.

And just like before, I wouldn’t imagine that many of these apps would make it over to the EU/UK either, given Microsoft’s propensity for thinking that only North American folk attend their presser and own their console.

So it’ll be at this point in their conference that you should feel compelled to make yourself a snack, grab yourself a drink or take an extra-long dump; whatever passes the time for you best really.

One thing that won’t be part of their presser this year in regards to Xbox Live, will be the long rumoured third-tier of access. Xbox Live ‘Platinum’, or whatever they deign to call it will, like most of the stuff that won’t be there this year, form a key piece of the puzzle for next year’s next generation Xbox unveiling.

After all, a brand new tier would likely infer some sort of new change to the online experience that would likely be a crucial selling point for the new hardware; rather than being utilised for a console that is about to enter it’s eighth year on the market. So then, if a third tier of Xbox Live even exists, it won’t be at this year’s presser.


Of the three platform holders, I fully expect Microsoft to be the most muted in terms of new and unique core game experiences. This would be due in no small part to them saving the next iterations of some of their best first party franchises not called Halo, for the next generation Xbox unveiling next year.

Halo 4 will get a lot of love both in the conference and on the showfloor. I’m hoping for a flood (if you excuse the pun) of single player details; aided by an on-stage demonstration (no CG cut scene bollocks here please) and a further fleshing out of the multiplayer side of things. Halo 4, to all intents and purposes, is one of their main primary hardware sellers this year alongside the benefits that timed DLC exclusivity on Black Ops II will bring. Therefore I expect them to make a big fucking noise about it to ensure that it stays in the public’s conscious long after the show has ended.

As always, expect a lot of Kinect love but with a more mature/core focus this year – there are 65 million 360 owners out there and less than one third of them own a Kinect; so Microsoft would be silly not to try and broaden the demographic that the hardware appeals to.

There will be surprises, as there are in every presser, but I wouldn’t expect them to be as numerous (or as potentially exciting) as seen in previous years.

Sony Press Conference – Tuesday, June 5th – 2 AM BST

Sony will be packing a well-rounded conference this year says I.

Just like rival Microsoft, Sony will also be clutching a number of cards tightly to their chest in regards to their *BIG* software announcements – since the majority of them will be used in unison with the inevitable Playstation 4 announcement NEXT YEAR, and not this year.

With that said though, and like the previous two years, they will certainly come out with a much more rounded software offering – especially where first party exclusives are concerned. This leads us quite neatly to…

Vita is dead, long live Vita

The Playstation Vita. The most powerful dedicated handheld gaming platform on the market right now, the machine should be every core gamer’s veritable wet dream. It can produce home console visuals on the move, can cross-play with the PS3 and is generally a very sexy piece of kit. Yet, despite all of this, the machine continues to track below expectations across the globe; with the machine repeatedly doing worse than its predecessor the PSP in Japan, much less the all-domineering Nintendo 3DS.

Sony, despite all of their PR bluster and spin-laden bullshit are very aware that the Vita isn’t performing up to an acceptable standard at retail. With that in mind, I fully expect their presser to be the most Vita focused one yet. Expect a strong ‘Vita is alive and well’ message, starting with the announcement of a small, but significant price drop (the French are enjoying an ‘experimental’ price drop which started on June 1st for two weeks), succeeded by numerous game announcements.

In terms of new software for the handheld, I would expect a proverbial flood of third and first party announcements. Rumoured third-party AAA games such as Assassins Creed 3 and Call of Duty look set to make a splash alongside the usual versions of Q3/Q4 releases such as FIFA, Need for Speed: Most Wanted and many others. I would also wager on the likes of Final Fantasy Type Zero showing up alongside Killzone Vita, a new God of War and a Gran Turismo title; to really bolster the system’s software line-up. And really, it’s going to be the software that’ll be the tipping point for many folks who may have entertained the possibility of picking up a Vita. Sure, the price point helps, but if the games are excellent and numerous, they will come all the same.

In addition to a solid software showing and a possible price cut across both SKU’s (£30 I would reckon, in each case), it wouldn’t surprise me to see Sony pimping new Vita bundles; likely leveraging the first-party stuff that they’ll have coming out later in the year such as Killzone or Playstation All-Stars for instance.

Put simply, if Sony are unable to sell you on Playstation Vita after their presser, you’ll likely never buy one at any other time.

Sony will be doing everything they can to remind us that the Vita isn’t on the way out. Expect a shitload of new software announcements for the beleaguered system.

What about big brother? The PS3 software line-up

As well as a strong line-up for the Vita, Sony will be keen to ensure that the PS3 isn’t passed over too heavily in favour of its portable counterpart.

One game which will certainly form an integral part of their presser will be Playstation All-Stars; Sony’s poorly veiled attempt at a Super Smash Bros-alike using the somewhat weaker mascots of the Playstation brand. The game itself will likely be demonstrated on stage at length and it wouldn’t surprise me at all for the demonstration to involve cross-play between the PS3 and Vita versions.

Also, expect Scheduled Maintenance to be announced as a secret character. Probably.

Next up will likely be the cracking looking God of War: Ascension. Few words can stir-up the whiners and complainers more than ‘multiplayer’ being used in association with a game which has traditionally prided itself on an excellent single-player campaign. It happened with Mass Effect and it happened when God of War: Ascension was announced.

The problem, y’see, with multiplayer modes being announced for games like this is that they very often come across as an afterthought and lack the same amount of effort and vim that was put into the single-player side of things – hence all the moaning and crying into rivers. God of War: Ascension though, stands on its own in so far as the multiplayer actually looks extremely robust and worthwhile if early impressions are anything to go by. If not demonstrated on stage, I would at least expect a new trailer for the game, which sadly won’t make the 2012 release window – instead making its highly anticipated bow mid-2013.

Another game that will likely get a share of the spotlight, but again, won’t come out this year, will be Naughty Dog’s impressive looking The Last Of Us. Positioned as some sort of post-apocalyptic adventure with a father and daughter pairing, the game appears to want to put real emotional weight behind the characters with some seriously jaw-dropping character motion-capture and intense situations. Apart from the basic premise however, we actually know precious little about this hugely promising title from the codeshop that spawned the multi-million selling Uncharted franchise. It’ll be at the E3 presser then, that the game should hopefully be given some time to shine and show the world what sort of gameplay we can expect to get stuck into come 2013. An on-stage demonstration would be nice, but if that doesn’t happen, I’ll take a gameplay trailer thanks.

Expect to see these three feature quite prominently in the Sony E3 presser. I’m sorry did someone say something about The Last Guardian?

Sony’s E3 presser will also mark the likely debut of the next title from Heavy Rain developer Quantic Dream. Little is known about the title and rumours are that it will resurrect the previously canned ‘Infraworld’ moniker, but gameplay wise we can make some educated guesses as to what to expect – lots of QTE’s, lots of cinematics and a plot that starts off being cool and then grows more and more nonsensical as the game goes on. Still, despite my own reservations regarding the title, I’m sure it will remain a big hit for them, but like the last two titles that I’ve mentioned it too won’t make it to release this year either.

The problem is as I’m sure you can guess by now, is that a lot of the big hitting exclusive titles that Sony are prepping; The Last of Us, God of War: Ascension, new Quantic Dream title etc.. are all due out next year, leaving slightly slim pickings for this year such as Sly Raccoon 4, Ratchet and Clank: Full Frontal Assault (I prefer that title for the record) and, um, that’s probably about it at this point.

So hopefully on that score at least, Sony will have some surprises in store to tide us over for this year.

Speaking of surprises…

On cloud nine; Sony’s Cloud Gaming Collaboration

One of these companies will form a partnership with Sony to allow cloud gaming on the Playstation platform. But which one?

The current darling on the E3 rumour mill as far as the Japanese consumer electronics giant is concerned, is the potential buyout of a cloud-gaming company to coincide with an upcoming service announcement at E3. Currently, there are only really just two players in the cloud gaming field – OnLive and competing service Gaikai.

Of the two, if recent reports are to believed, it is in fact Gaikai which are current front-runners, as echoed perhaps by their enthusiastic invitation to E3 journos everywhere stating: “Gaikai has some major announcements in store for E3 that have the potential to change the future of video games, game consoles and how we play,”.

The real question of course is why Sony would be pursuing cloud gaming in the first place and how they would seek to integrate it into their current spread of products and services. As far as the ‘why’, the only thing that makes sense is choice. Basically, I could imagine Sony utilising the cloud gaming service to allow people to stream the newest PS3/PSN titles in lieu of downloading it or acquiring a physical product. Essentially, it would just exist to allow customers that extra avenue of freedom when it comes to choosing how to play the newest PS3 and PSN games. In terms of the ‘how’, presumably the cloud gaming side of things would be used through an app from the XMB, much like how you would load up Netflix or LoveFilm for example.

May main concern with this whole scenario though, is that the technical infrastructure simply isn’t strong enough to support this ambition. Internet speeds pretty much the world over simply aren’t up to the task (especially here in the UK), and right now a free trial of either OnLive or GaiKai on what would typically be termed a ‘good’ internet connection (I’m thinking 20mbps plus here) shows a noticeable amount of latency and much lower level of visual detail than what would be deemed acceptable by the masses. To be fair, the fact that such tech even exists is a minor miracle, but we just aren’t at the point yet where the technology which underpins these grandiose ideas is sufficient enough. Regardless, if this is going to be a real thing at E3 (which I suspect it is), it’ll be very interesting to see how Sony and their cloud gaming partner attempt to mitigate these seemingly insurmountable technical issues.

The fall and fall of the Playstation Move

Seemingly unconcerned with trying to match the larger selling Kinect motion control system, Sony have appeared to largely given up on their motion control accessory as any sort of competitor to the Microsoft device. Indeed, Move support for titles is sparse when compared to the Microsoft strategy of quite literally shoving it down everybody’s throats (every first-party MS game has some sort of Kinect functionality by mandate).

With the exception of the very recently announced Sports Champions 2 and the forthcoming Resident Evil Chronicles HD (a Wii port no less), there really isn’t much on the horizon for fans of Sony’s motion control accessory. Really, this will be the last chance for them to make any significant impact with Move this generation since the PS4 will either have the tech in some sort of advanced form or simply not at all, if the device continues to flounder with such little software support.


Of the two companies not named Nintendo, Sony certainly seems better equipped to put on a more compelling and varied conference in regards to games and original content; on paper anyway. For one thing, they have two formats at their disposal and in the case of one (the Vita), they’re desperate to reinvigorate it in the public eye and showcasing lots of lovely new games seems like the best way that they’re going to achieve that.

The PS3 will likely receive a surprise or two too, but in a similar situation to Microsoft, the bulk of the gaming bliss will arrive next year – leaving just the usual multiplats and odd first-party title to hold up the fort for Sony before the year closes out.

The cloud gaming partnership which has pretty much characterised Sony in the rumour mill as of late, will make a debut I believe but really won’t be the game changer that a lot of people suspect it will be. The significant technical hurdles facing this tech at present, coupled with the lack of exposure that it has had versus common distribution methods for gaming content, mean that it’s announcement will likely be met with a whimper, rather than the bang that Sony would like.

At the end of the day, I expect Sony to deliver a strong conference; eminently focused on Vita with PS3 owners being thrown a first party bone or two to keep them happy. Make no mistake, before the focus shifts to the PS4 at next year’s show, Sony will do everything in their power to make the Vita a much more compelling offering to Joe Public and I believe that their conference will fully reflect this through.

Nintendo Press Conference – Tuesday, June 5th, 5:00AM

Nintendo really have a singular goal and purpose this year – get the WiiU showcased (again) and get it on people’s shopping list. Everything else can go to hell and stay there. Truly. The 3DS continues to generate impressive software and hardware numbers globally, so I expect a couple of title announcements for that; if only in a half-hearted attempt to steal some of the thunder Sony will be attempting to generate with the resurging Vita, but other than that it should be all WiiU and nothing else.

As far as they’re concerned, their ‘next-gen’ will start before this year that we’re already halfway through is out with Wii U and they should conduct their business at this year’s E3 accordingly.

Wii U give Nintendo another chance?

Nintendo are tremendously lucky bastards indeed. Rewind to last year’s E3, where they unveiled their Wii successor to the eager audience of captivated journos and retail partners; the reception?

Elated and confused amongst the Nintendo faithful; mixed and confused amongst everybody else.

Nintendo largely failed to solidify any sort of identity with the Wii U; okay great, the machine can produce HD visuals and has a tablet controller that can use wirelessly streamed content but what can it actually do? Sure we saw the usual cheesy proof of concept sizzle reels, but where were the on-stage demonstrations, the first-party support, actual in-game footage from WIP titles? Where was any of that stuff?

It just screamed of a product being unveiled too early – Nintendo themselves didn’t know what to do with it or how to market it and whoever planned their E3 presser strategy needs to be shot in the face for booking one hour for the ENTIRE presser and taking the first TWENTY minutes of that up with a fucking ZELDA CONCERT.

That’s just FORTY minutes, give or take, to unveil and showcase a brand new home console and all the bits and pieces that go along with it.

Shot in the bloody face I tell you. 

Nintendo absolutely cannot afford to make the same mistake again this year and are lucky to have another chance to correct all of last year’s wrongs. By all accounts the machine is due to go on sale worldwide in just over six months’ time; so the machine, what it can do and the software support that it’s going to have should be clearly solidified and defined in people’s minds.

This is their second (and last) bite at the apple to sell the WiiU and tell us everything we need to know about it and on that score, I think Nintendo aren’t going to disappoint.

Games – It’s all about the games

Expect the second coming of the WiiU at this year’s E3 to be accompanied by a great deal of on-stage demonstrations, bolstered by a myriad of first-party and third-party titles. Leading the charge will be a new Zelda title (likely due out next year), New Super Mario Bros 2 and the long-in-development Pikmin 3. Nintendo have never been (well, since 1995 anyway) about shock and awe tactics with visuals, so while the Zelda title will be the prettiest of the lot (not to mention illustrative of the Wii U’s graphical capability), I expect that it will best personify the new innovations that the new console is capable of; once again illustrating the mildly troubling knowledge gap between Ninty and their third parties when it comes to the creative use of their hardware.

Speaking of third parties, like their ringing endorsement of Kinect a couple of years earlier, it would be reasonable to expect that Ubisoft would be at the front of any third-party charge. This would seem like a sure bet given the way that they’ve been talking about the console recently; they would essentially be on-stage evangelising the new platform with a variety of software which utilise the Wii U’s unique feature set. They’ll be keen to point out the unique features of Assassins Creed 3 WiiU and Rayman Legends over their multiplatform equivilents and will likely be given a fair bit of on-stage time to do so, as well as shilling their own casual brands such as Raving Rabbids and Your Shape Fitness Evolved.

Further afield, Ninty may also bring Randy Pitchford in from Gearbox Software on stage to demonstrate the Wii U version of Aliens: Colonial Marines which the software developer has been gushing over for months saying that it ‘could be the best version available’. Don’t expect the third party support to end there though, I am expecting Ninty to showcase a long sizzle reel of all the third-party games in development for the console to really hammer home the idea that Nintendo have gotten the third-party core support issue nicely squared away.

In regards to surprise game announcements, I could quite easily see F-Zero making a triumphant return to the console in blistering sixty frames per second, 1080p form.

Another first-party title that’s within the realms of feasibility would be a Wii U version of Metroid. Not to mention a new Donkey Kong title. Or a new Kirby title. Ninty really are in priviledged position in that they have a hugely deep pool of first-party bliss from which to draw surprise software announcements from.

So really, look for Nintendo to go completely mental with game announcements to bolster the arrive of their new shiny bit of plastic this year; they’ll have a lot to talk about.

Online – Friend codes need to die

A key and very crucial part in enrapturing the core audience that they so desperately want to reclaim will be their online offering. Therefore, expect them to unveil a much more comprehensive online strategy – one that encompasses a much more user friendly online multi-player UI, coupled with a Wii U ‘eShop’, which would allow day one downloads of new releases; not to mention an exhaustive virtual console offering and unique ‘WiiU Ware’ games.

This will be the one area which I think they might stumble given their past transgressions with friend codes and the hideously outdated online capabilities of the Wii. That said they have made some really positive strides in this area with the 3DS, some i’m hoping that they improve on what they’ve done there and give us an online offering that is at least in the same ballpark as Xbox Live and the Playstation Network.

First step though – the whole friend code thing needs to be put in a shit-filled metal box and shot into the sun. It’s shit, embarassing and has just been pointlessly counter-intuitive since day one.

No more of this please. It’s not the 80’s anymore; people actually have internet handles now Nintendo.

Under the Hood

Before we start flapping our gums about resolutions, frame-rates, CPU’s and GPU’s, the one, most important thing in my view that the console MUST do, is retain its backwards compatibility to the Wii software library and accessories. For all of the well-trodden talk that people don’t buy new consoles to play old games remains the horrible, underlying truth that if it wasn’t there, people would complain that much more loudly about it -especially if such a feature existed in a competing product. It’s a crucial goodwill advantage over both Sony and Microsoft who have almost completely shunned the practice in recent years and a great way to ease the migration of the 100 million plus existing Wii owners around the world to the WiiU.

With that promise hopefully fulfilled, we’ll next get an overview of what the machine can do from a graphical perspective along with plenty of examples to back that up. Now, again, Nintendo has never been one to (recently at least) extol graphical prowess in market where they are a disruptive force – typically perferring to talk with input innovation rather than on-screen asethetics.

This time however, Nintendo must surely realise that having a console with HD visual capabilities, is now a bare neccisity to remain relevant in the eyes of Joe Consumer.

Without getting into all the acronyms and technical jargon, all you need to know is that the console is in the same ‘ballpark’ as the 360 and PS3, with developers giving varying accounts of how powerful it is; likely based upon their coding accumen with the machine coupled with how advanced their dev kits were at the time.

Regardless, we should get a much clearer idea of how powerful the console is at E3 and if I were a betting man, I would say that the console will easily be comparable to the 360/PS3 with some games even looking better than their peers on those consoles.

Additionally, I imagine that the majority of Nintendo fans will be giddly with glee to see the likes of Zelda and Mario finally strut about in gorgeous HD, and if they they’re not; they’re clearly lying. And quite possibly blind.

As far as the tablet controller goes, Nintendo have been making a number of changes to the original design which will finally get it’s fifteen minutes of fame at E3; along with a number of revisions to it’s capability (expect a much shorter wireless transmission range).

More of this please. Really, let’s have more of it.


This E3 really is Nintendo’s to lose. Sony is tied up trying to keep the Vita alive and Microsoft is doing just enough to keep the 360 ticking over until next year’s next-gen Xbox unveiling at E3 2013, where Sony will also unveil their the PS3 successor. That means, Ninty has the distinction of having some new (sort of) hardware to show and software to pimp which always gets people excited and goes down well. Make no mistake though, they have to succeed here because if they do not, they might not fare so well against the next-generation cascade which will crash down upon them next year.

Written by bitsnark

May 31, 2012 at 9:12 pm

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