Iwata is a man that has no time for reality. Long hours are spent peering into the prophetic banana bunch and waiting for the next whisper of the future to issue forth from the legendary fruit. But little does Iwata know that I have wire tapped his oracular bananas and connected their precious prophecies to a banana of my own, creating a “banana phone” of sorts, and was able to listen in on their latest prediction. It is no surprise that Iwata would ask about the biggest trade show of the industry, a lot can ride on the performance throughout the show, and the bananas were generous enough to conjure predictions of Sony and Microsoft as well as Nintendo. The following is what I could gather from the prophecies.
Nintendo already announced they will not be holding a traditional conference once again this year, instead opting for a more “direct” (read: cheaper) pre-recorded web presentation to air around the time they would have held a conference. The games on display in this special E3 Nintendo Direct will probably run the gamut of known games they want to continue to promote (I would not be terribly surprised to see Mario Kart 8 in there somewhere) and some new updates or announcements. And while what I think needs to happen and what I think will happen are two different things in this case, I still hope Nintendo presents at least two new initiatives this year (maybe a Zelda and some other IP). Of course major updates on the mostly mysterious X and the anticipated next Smash Bros. will likely be shown off. It would be interesting to see some third party surprises in there but I feel less confident about expecting anything worthwhile out of the third party sector given the astounding lack of support for the console. Perhaps an update on the system regarding multiple Gamepad support or a showcase of the GameCube inspired controller that is being billed as a fighting game controller. I do not know how well suited to most fighting games the GameCube controller was, but I do know it will be better suited toward Smash than any of the current offerings.
The other big question mark aside from the WiiU’s support is Iwata’s vague Quality of Life announcement. They previously stated that no new hardware would be announced at E3 (a statement they would probably make regardless of the truth) but I honestly cannot see them launching another piece of hardware. Instead I think this initiative will be comprised of, at most, specially branded games aimed at motion control usage in the WiiU and perhaps the pedometer function in the 3DS. It will likely play out as little more than a push for the casual market and may see some peripheral launches down the road, but certainly not dedicated hardware. Expect this announcement to take up a boring amount of time of their E3 Direct.
Now that the Xbone is no longer connected to the Kinnect-bone MS will likely tout how they are offering their consumers more choice as they announce a new dis-Kinnected SKU alongside a standalone Xbone version of Kinnect for about $120 while shouting from the rooftops about their new price parity with Sony. As for games, I have little doubt about the usual suspects cropping up in the form of Bungie’s Destiny alongside the next Call of Duty and Battlefield and so on and so forth. There might still be some show time held for Kinnect oriented features that no one is interested in. Some time may also be put toward outlining their (very late) changes to Xbox Live that allows users access to premium services like Netflix without giving MS its tithe. And given all of the turn around MS has been a part of, I would also not be terribly surprised to see a pull back on their TV and sports messaging from last year. Smart Glass will probably get a mention, but if MS is actually listening enough to stop gouging their subscribers and stop forcing people to buy a Kinnect then maybe they also got the message that TV is a dieing medium.
It is Sony’s E3 to lose this year as the goodwill train they got rolling in 2013 has never really run out of steam. Once again Sony finds itself pitted against two fundamentally handicapped opponents and drawing this parallel to the heady PS2 days would be pretty appropriate for them right now. Essentially all they have to do is keep pushing the same games and services they always have been (PS+ value, great third party and indie support) while the competition makes up for lost ground. Unfortunately not all is rosey in the land of Sony. Two stinky corpse flowers adorn Sony’s garden heading into this E3 and they are Vita support (as usual) and VR. Vita support can always be turned around if Sony focused on the handheld a little more. Admittedly its connectivity to the PS4 is impressive but it currently remains the purview of only the most adamant supporters. Helping the appeal and the software lineup of the handheld is simply a matter of trying. But this VR business is another story.
If Sony has one chink in its armor it is that they occasionally like to hop ungracefully onto bandwagons. They did it previously with the PS Move and with the rumble-less Sixaxis before that. Now the collective orgasming of internet personalities and their slaves about the Oculus Rift has resurfaced one of Sony’s worst habits. They announced their Morpheus VR headset not long ago (making sure to repeatedly remind us they had been working on this for a long time, guys, seriously) and as far as VR headsets go it does appear like a nice one. But it is still a VR headset, and it will still likely consume an inordinate amount of time at Sony’s conference when they should be taking advantage of their sizable lead. Hopefully, like with the PS Move, Sony will quietly dump support of this gimmicky nonsense when it opens to the public and sobriety sets in about headset VR as a concept.
Unfortunately that is where my connection was lost. It may have been storm interference or perhaps Iwata discovered my ingenious banana split. I cannot know for certain but I will keep my ears peeled for any banana whispers that come my way. For now, tell me what you think will come about this E3. Do you disagree with any of my (I mean Iwata’s banana’s) predictions? Any you would like to add? Tally me prediction in the comments!