Confessions of an Editor-in-Chief III|
It feels like my first-year anniversary here at ProjectCOE.com was just celebrated with Jarrod and Ahmad when we recorded that particular Sunday podcast. The episode was heart-warming in that I not only relived my accomplishments for the site prior to that day, but also discussed how far the rest of the crew has come. It's almost May now, so festivities for another 365 day passing are just over 60 days away. Since that podcast party, COE has also slowly transformed to set up what we're hoping to dive into come mid-May, full CMS support. Along the way, we've picked up a couple fresh additions, heightened the exposure and popularity of our YouTube channel, and put out reviews more consistently. Young Cory now fulfills our Featured Content banner needs, and thanks to the Help Wanted: Graphics & CMS video I produced long ago, Mr. JJ Norris is our new webmaster and responsible for that CMS transition. Our video channel has just cracked the 300 subscriber plateau, and our content has surpassed the 100 mark. We also record steady weekly Sunday podcasts, and are surely past 100 if not very darn close.
You better believe we’ll be partying again.
ProjectCOE is going places, and May 31 through June 5 will prove our greatest historical reward. Over the past several years, Exec. Dir. Jarrod Nichol has attended the media juggernaut known as the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) held in Los Angeles, California. Well, the location that actually matters at least...to hell with that Santa Monica nonsense. But this year, 2009, he won't be alone in the least. Not only am I, Charles Sharam and Timothy Magana joining him, but four close friends and relatives are tagging along to add to the chaos. Eight people will represent the awesomeness that is ProjectCOE at E3 2009. Our hotel rooms were reserved likely well before most other media outlets did theirs, and our travel needs are all prepared. Now it's simply a matter of waiting for the momentous May 31 to strike the year's calendar.
4 [Americans] + 4 [Canadiens] = 8 [helpings of troublemaking :)]
E3 2009 will be especially surreal for me because the trip is going to be my first ever. I've also never traveled further west in the U.S. than Indiana. I'm scheduled to take off from Columbus's airport and land in Minneapolis, MN on the morning of 5/31, and meet one of my two friends who will arrive there an hour earlier. Around 11:30, we're set to board a plane destined for Los Angeles, and the rest should [hopefully] be history. During the 4.5 hour flight, we're more than likely to spam our DS and PSP handhelds, and act surprised when LAX is right underneath our feet. Afterwards, it's a matter of flagging down a taxi, hoping the driver knows where the hell he's going, and showing up at our hotel about a half hour later. There's a chance that Mr. Sharam will join us for the venture because he's supposed to hit the international terminal around the same time. If it's convenient enough, we'll meet on the outside and split a cab three ways, but we're not breaking our backs over it. Nevertheless, at about 7:00pm that evening, all eight of us should be together, and then insanity shall ensue! Trust me; armed with digital cameras, video cameras, laptops, game portables, and whatever else, who knows what'll happen.
The essential E3 hardware of an independent site like COE. Sorry ‘bout the lighting.
Honestly though, that's the least of my concerns at the moment. I only provided those blurbs as a precursor to the real point of this piece. In my exclusive Confessions of an Editor-in-Chief feature line, this third installment is all about my pre-event thoughts about the Big 3. COE is sure to be inhumanly busy with all the press conferences, developer/publisher interviews, booth tours, playing demos of upcoming software, and just about what every other media group gains access to. But before any of that actually happens, I'd like to provide all of you with my pseudo-predictions. My focus is strictly on the Big 3 though -- not for lack of desire, but because I just don't have the time to account for everyone else. Surely you understand? With that in mind, let's begin!
Nintendo's attitude and presentations couldn't be much worse for the hardcore than last year's. They made us listen to Cammie Dunaway tell a yawn-inducing story about breaking her wrist snowboarding just so Shaun White's Snowboarding could be demoed. Nintendo also thought that Animal Crossing: City Folk and a watered-down Call of Duty: World at War would please us hardcore. Well that not only failed, but seeing just the logo for GTA: Chinatown Wars added to the drivel. I actually hope that Nintendo's conference didn't provoke that game's poor sales. Anyway, it couldn't be much more embarrasing, but it was when Miss Dunaway and Reggie proceeded to make asses of themselves whacking away at one another in Wii Sports Resort sword plush fencing. The only comforting segment was MotionPlus's demonstration, which should've really been showing off the next Wii Zelda. Oh well, I suppose you can't blame the richest company in gaming for continuing to cater to their cash cow. But seriously Nintendo, $19.99 for the enhancing attachment?! As if multiplayer Wii gaming wasn't expensive enough! You could buy the 60gb Xbox 360 for less than how much is required for four sets of Wii remotes and nunchuks, and the pending MotionPlus. Way to look out for us Nintendo.
If you have trouble sleeping during E3, here's your cure.
If they pull similar antics in Kodak Theater this year, who knows if their core market will ever forgive them. I'm clinging to the notion that Nintendo isn't dumb enough to push us all over the edge, so there's little doubt that something at their E3 event will stimulate our saliva glands. Their GDC announcements may have been a precursor for what's to come in Los Angeles. We just pray those weren't the year's biggest guns.
WHAT JUSTIN WANTS
Three of the five most anticipated first-half of 2009 third party Wii titles are available as you read this. The House of the Dead: Overkill, Deadly Creatures and MadWorld are all catered to Wii gamers starving for something more than replaying Metroid Prime 3, Super Mario Galaxy or Brawl over and over, not to mention sick of Wii Sports and Wii Fit. High Voltage Software and SEGA's The Conduit is scheduled to arrive soon after E3 says its final goodbyes on June 23. Punch-Out!! Wii from Next Level Games (Mario Strikers) is slated for May. Nonetheless, I believe Nintendo has been holding back juicy announcements in respect to other big third party titles. It's also pretty much a given that Kid Icarus is at least in development right now. NoA/NCL would be missing a grand opportunity if they didn't highlight it. The Conduit is likely to also be shown in full so as to take advantage of the last remaining media buzz it can generate. The game has been hyped more than MadWorld even, and E3 provides the best setting for it to shine as truly deserved. If it's there, expect a full hands-on from me during the first week of June *smile*.
The #1 reason to own a Wii this summer.
It can't all be about two games though. Methinks Nintendo is obligated to provide proof of the existence of what was claimed to be in progress during Miyamoto-san's interview post-E3 2008. The next Wii installments of Mario and Zelda will probably be shown in teaser trailer form, and Pikmin 3 needs to be there. If any are playable, I'll be more shocked than when Nintendo opened up the Wii's SD card slot to support 32gb storage. The chances are much higher for some unannounced MotionPlus-supported games to be shown. We already know about Wii Sports Resort, Tiger Woods 09 and Grand Slam Tennis, but where's the rest? Given that we know the release date for WSR, and possibly a separate distribution for MotionPlus altogether, Nintendo should blow the lid off the subject. Really, I'm tired of their secrecy.
What's next Nintendo: the safe way out, or evolution?
On the DS[i] side of things, I imagine Nintendo will stick to their approach of the past couple years. They know the dual-screen portable is untouchable, and that first and third party software are enjoying success. Along with Spirit Tracks, Nintendo is likely show off Mario & Luigi RPG 3, possibly the next evolution of Nintendogs, and a proper sequel to New Super Mario Bros.. But of course the Big N won't waste any time pimping up what will still be a young DSi. It just shipped to stores a couple weeks ago and sold to hundreds of thousands of gamers who upgraded from a Phat/Lite, along with those joining the party for the first time. That means more profit potential for Nintendo, and it'd be mind-blowing to see them ignore that. Expect a slew of more DSWare announcements, in addition to retail software that takes specific advantage of the DSi's new hardware features. Who knows, maybe the Gameboy Virtual Console will be launched that very same day? We know NOA and NCL are itching to rake in more easy millions by providing another 20 year backlog to the masses. There's no doubt that many will look to this for handheld games they missed out on at any point.
iWish that iCould stop how iIs the hip way to express [m]iSelf with a gadget.
The most fulfilling aspect of this though is spreading the word. While I haven't done it as much as I've wanted, I try to never waste an opportunity to promote ProjectCOE.com to the masses. It'll be a bit easier once I have the business cards we need to make for E3 2009 at the very least…but until then, I do what I can. It's a constant undertaking too because we're an independent organization that doesn't take advantage of formal advertising. The only ways we can become known to the gaming public is to either use word of mouth, or continuously think of ways to expand our online outreach. That's why we record podcasts and produce video features.
We're also aware that Wii's production costs have dropped 45% since manufacturing plants first began spitting it out. The market is also no longer feeling frustration trying to find one, as the supply is now meeting demand. Obviously the Wii dominates on a month-to-month basis here in North America, and that hasn't stopped since it first overtook Xbox 360. However, it's no secret that the little white box has been floundering in Japan. In fact, Sony's PS3 has managed to surpass it over recent Japanese charts. There's no way Nintendo likes this, so they may very well bring out Monster Hunter and Dragon Quest X to tickle their homeland once more, and bring North America along for the ride. I expect this to be a TGS headliner though. Plus, where's our black, red and green Wii?
Your eyes are not deceived. Only $5 of more wasted gas will land you one!
WHO’S JUSTIN KIDDING? IT’S COMING…
Numbers, numbers, and more numb3rs...so many that even most expert statisticians would feel chronic boredom. It wouldn't be so much over the numbers specifically though, but why nobody would care. Nintendo, do us all a favor and spare us from even pretending like you'll bust out a PowerPoint outlining Wii and DS/DSi's industry significance. W-E D-O-N'-T C-A-R-E. Don't waste a precious second of your conference with any of that. If you do, I'm ripping you a new one, hands-down. W-E K-N-O-W that you've expanded the global gaming market and changed our parents' and grandparents' lives forever. (See caps again) That means all your pie charts, bar graphs and lame video testimonies are to stay packed away tightly back at the office. I don't care if you can pay Lisa Kudrow to come out on stage to pretend to know and love what she's talking about. Bring that crap to E3, and you'll never hear the end of it; I promise.
But if nothing else really, don't torture us at the beginning like last time showing a game that nobody gives a damn about. Sure SW Snowboarding sold unexpectedly well, but for real, start off your conference with a bang eh? It doesn't have to be as epic as Zelda, but come on, just give us what you know we want. Don't beat around the bush or take five minutes just to arrive at your first point. Come prepared to impress us, because you're obligated to. Yet of course they're probably happy to debate that. Should we all just start crying now and be done with it?
Ugh... Are Wii Balance Boards machine-washable?...
WHAT JUSTIN WANTS BUT WON’T SEE
Hey, in case you haven't heard Nintendo, third party game sales are pretty blow-ass on your GameCu.....er, cash-prin.....*clears throat* Unless the title resembles Guitar Hero, Resident Evil or something else of that nature, it isn't selling. Are you at all concerned that The House of the Dead: Overkill, Deadly Creatures and MadWorld can't combine for even half of the numbers those games generate? I couldn't even tack on Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars and arrive much closer. Nintendo...come on, it's not a good sign when your console can sell more monthly units than this software does altogether, and during times that are supposed to be slow!!! You can come to E3 with some surprisingly high-profile third party games, but I won't believe for a second if I interview a developer or publisher that claims confidence in the market responding. The hardcore is partly to blame, but when you've essentially spat in our faces since launch, what do you expect? We're a dying breed Nintendo, and you could be doing so much more with your billions to change that. If you actually care about third party success on your consoles, this is funny way to show that. Our only hope is that your $100 million increase in R&D spending is news to make us optimistic for your next machine. You had 30 million hardcore users on GameCube, what's the deal with ignoring that almost completely? Methinks mom and pop, Oprah Winfrey fans and those who mindlessly follow CNN have had their due. Plus WS Resort is arriving in a couple months, so how's about you focus on us and third parties now?
Think the shovelware is bad now? Wait until these never resurface!
I'll say a few more things, which I'm sure you'll be plenty familiar with. Why does Nintendo even bother with online gaming if they're just going to half-ass it? Animal Crossing is the only title that supports WiiSpeak, and despite The Conduit set to do the same, we don't know about anything else. We all want that to change, but unfortunately Nintendo is too worried of tarnishing their family image by allowing little Timmy to talk to people when he plays videogames. COE has addressed painless solutions for this in the past, but we'd as might as well being talking to a brick all. Heaven forbid Friend Codes go away too. I mean it's freaking pitiful that a third party company (EA) can offer a better online service than the console's own designer. They know how it's done, yet Nintendo employees likely walk into work every day not even giving the state of Wi-Fi Connection a second thought. They certainly don't come off as interested in competing with Live and PSN, and that's plain sad. Then again, I probably would approach things similarly if I had an Olympic regulation pool full of Benjamins. Duck Tales anybody? One more grief I have is with DSWare/WiiWare accounts. Um, why aren't they linked? Managing two accounts for purchases from the same company is freaking stupid, hands-down.
Does anybody miss Perrin Kaplan as much as I do? I mean, I know she wasn't always on top of things, but she at least made Nintendo interesting to learn about. Yes, a random thought, leave me alone.
JUSTIN’S WISHFUL THINKING
- Nintendo announces Winter to be published by them
- Metroid Dread for DS "officially" teased
- Donkey Kong Country 4 announced for Wii, developed by Good Feel
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers announced as playable at E3
- The next Wii Zelda teased as the franchise's much-needed evolution
- DLC Channel announced in light of the SD card firmware update
Well, it is Wishful Thinking after all.
The operating system giant strangely thinks they didn't bring their A-game to last year's E3. I guess the Final Fantasy XIII announcement wasn't enough of a megaton. The Redmond, Washington juggernaut claims theirs will be the conference to attend at the LACC for 2009. If that's the case, I won't complain, especially since Microsoft invited me to it. I truly wonder what they'll present though; after all, their market presence has been incredibly lax since 2009 rang in. When you consider 2008's Fable II, Gears of War 2, Ninja Gaiden II, Lost Odyssey, Fallout 3, and then some, however, it's not exactly surprising. But right now we know next to nothing about 2009 exclusives, except for Mass Effect 2, but even that could be a stretch. You could mention Alan Wake, but there's not exactly a point considering not a whim has been uttered about the project for months.
They went after Sony last year...is it Nintendo's turn?
With this in mind, Microsoft may be planning a repeat of last year's Q3/Q4. Since E3 runs during the beginning of June, that leaves the company plenty of room to spread about 12 heavy hitters across 2009's remaining six months if it wanted. Considering that sales are generally highest during the fall and winter seasons because people stay indoors more often, it's a pretty intelligent potential move. I could be dead wrong in this respect, but since MS is well-aware of Sony's possible resurgence with the PS3 thanks to games like inFAMOUS, Heavy Rain, Fat Princess, and much more, they won't want to sit back and watch. It’s possible for the 360’s software to fall flat this year, but if the division at Microsoft promises another hit conference, I'm hesitant to believe that. After all, they did shell out the big bucks for exclusive Fallout 3 and GTA IV DLC, not to mention ripped FF XIII away from Sony's iron grip. What at E3 will Microsoft reveal that they've paid out for now?
WHAT JUSTIN WANTS
Microsoft is tough to foresee frankly; there are so many things that could happen. I'm sure Halo 3:ODST will be a big feature, but they know fans will want more, and not just displays of multi-platform titles. Mass Effect 2 is likely to be a big presence, and I think BioWare will be stoked to show off the next evolution of the franchise's conversation and event spider web. Everybody's wondering what happened to Commander Shepard since the first game, so there is buzz to address. Could a Gears of War 3 be teased? I'm not so sure, but I wouldn't put it past Microsoft. 2 is still relatively fresh in peoples' minds, so perhaps Epic and MS will take advantage of that in revealing some kind of obscure trailer. There's no way that would be a 2010 release though. I'm personally looking most forward to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. As underwhelming as the first trailer is, everybody knows Infinity Ward is extremely talented. They can truly blow 4 and World at War out of the water. I'm actually afraid of how much spare time I'll lose going online with that puppy. Alan Wake is also a possibility, but I typically don't offer the benefit of the doubt for sleeping projects (*coughcoughDukecoughNukemcoughcough*)
Can Shepard have sex with more aliens? :)
Xbox Live is likely to be another focus, as it's become Microsoft's gold mine. It's still the best online gaming service, which likely won't change, even if OnLive debuts. I fully expect announcements of more media partnerships, exclusive DLC deals (Fallout/GTA), and perhaps more new NXE features. Whatever happened to the game show experience with friends' and family's avatars? I thought that concept was cool to be frank. A truly unexpected game that is sure to be shown is LEGO Rock Band. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea, but understand full well why it's being done. Rock Band has essentially taken Guitar Hero's place as the hardcore music/rhythm series, but now Microsoft wants little Timmy and Sally. MS is likely banking on the notion that the Wii market will appreciate something like this, not to mention the kid-friendly element. Just look at sales of the Star Wars and Batman adaptations. I don't mind it either, as I could care less about stuff like Lips.
No doubt this was just the start.
We also know nothing outside of End of Eternity and Mass Effect 2 for RPGs this year. What about Mistwalker? What have they been up to since Lost Odyssey? I know the game didn't sell like any Final Fantasy ever has, but that doesn't mean Microsoft won't pursue their ever-growing RPG fanbase with another Sakaguchi masterpiece. I think another sweet role-player is in the works, and we'll find out about it at E3; I just hope it can stand tall to Fallout and Mass Effect, because we know FF XIII isn't coming for another year at the minimum. Plus as old-school as the project seems to becoming, gamers may crave something more than an epic FMV *oh snap*.
Sakaguchi and Co. doesn't want FF XIII hogging all the glory, do they?
Oh, and I can't forget about the somewhat secret motion controller the company has been cooking up. We know it exists, everyone thought it might be in conjunction with the recent Banjo-Kazooie, but lo and behold that wasn't the case. Just what is this device, how will it be used, what games will use it, and what does it mean for future Xbox 360 [and beyond] gaming? Microsoft is still gung-ho about tapping into Nintendo's casual market, as is evidenced by Lips and the craptastic You're In The Movies, so what's been going on behind the scenes? I expect a full unveiling at E3.
WHO’S JUSTIN KIDDING? IT’S COMING…
Isn't it about time that Microsoft puts the final nail in the steadily-improving PSN's coffin by making Xbox Live free...or at least more attractive for Gold members? I don't exactly mind the yearly $50 fee, but there isn't a huge difference in weighing the perks between Gold and Silver accounts. I fully understand that the $50 is supposed to pay for all 360 releases to have dedicated servers, but that hasn't stopped instability from ruining some weekends of Call of Duty, Gears and Halo fragging. This a big reason why I haven't played a game over Live since the new year began. I love the NXE and its Xbox Party functionality, but the sometimes frequent lag and session disconnections is utterly annoying. Am I seriously laying down a Ulysses S. Grant to put up with this crap? Microsoft, I've been hoping for a more rewarding Live experience for a while now, not just with the multimedia services. I don't care about Netflix, or dashboard/avatar trinkets, game trailers, blah blah. I'm sure some people love that stuff, but most of your users just want to play games. Instead of clogging up your server pipelines with more services and content, how about improving the Live experience and making that $50 investment feel a bit more worthwhile? Then again, I'm probably the only one complaining here. Oh well...
Yeah I know; over 10 million XBL subscribers = this is here to stay.
Speaking of pricing, what is up with those proprietary hard-drives coming at almost $1 per gigabyte?! The fact that you can purchase double the storage of their largest HDD at half the price is disturbing. It's bogus that you can stick in any 2.5" SATA HDD in the PS3 and be done with it, but Microsoft forces their specialized hardware on us. I don't know who's picking up the things to keep the prices where they are, but I pray that it stops so MS finally drops the insane asking amount for simple storage!
Don't ever do this again Microsoft.
(In case isn't obvious, I couldn't think of much to complain about on Microsoft's end. These issues are relatively minor, and everyone already knows their hardware is $h1t.)
JUSTIN’S WISHFUL THINKING
- Beyond Good & Evil 2 is announced as playable at E3
- Free DLC for Halo Wars adds more playable races and campaign missions
- Final Fantasy XIII confirmed as ahead-of-schedule Q4 holiday release
- Improved D-pad controller confirmed for North America
- Splinter Cell: Conviction rises from the grave
- MMO shooter or RPG announced to compete with MAG
Let's face it; Nintendo may have something to prove at E3 this year, but Sony situation's is borderline that of Sisyphus's. If you're rusty on Greek mythology, he's the poor fellow that has to push a boulder up an impossible slope for eternity. Never has the company behind the PlayStation brand faced such a precarious position, and all by its own doing. Very little has gone well for the PS2's successor that crept into U.S. consumer hands only 400,000 times at launch. The laundry list of problems include: the PR division's big mouth, an non-competitive console price, an online network that sorely lacks Xbox Live's superior social networking features, an embarrassing application with Home, third party exclusives that continue to slip away, new iterations of console hardware that drop hardcore-supported features, a handheld that's ridiculously pirated...and to top this all off, Sony's lost billions over the past few years. Basically the only light at the end of the pitch black tunnel is Blu-ray's victory over HD-DVD in the HD movie format war, but that hardly covers for the thousands of jobs being cut, not to mention a company-wide restructuring. To think that these very same people were adored by Square Enix, EA, Capcom, and the like...sold millions of hardware units, dominated software charts left and right, and were more or less synonymous with hardcore gaming over the past decade...and you wonder just what the hell went wrong. Well I pretty much listed all the significant details, and it doesn't help that Nintendo's new path has taken the industry by storm, while Microsoft has championed everything they've wanted to accomplish first.
Just imagine he's Sony, 'nuff said.
To say that Sony needs the most mind-blowing E3 2009, or really the flashiest E3 of all-time, is a gross understatement. With an inevitable PS3 price drop, the next iteration of PlayStation Portable hardware, and a slew of unknown high-profile AAA titles, the electronics and gaming giant has their work cut out to denote the very least. PS3 is currently a distant third in global market share, while Xbox rests comfortably in second behind the unbeatable Wii. In order for the George Foreman grill with a previously rumble-less controller to bounce back, Sony needs to summon themselves a miracle.
WHAT JUSTIN WANTS
First off, let's stop being so smug about a PS3 price drop eh? In case Sony hasn't realized, the North American housing market is in the crapper, so taking out a second mortgage just for their newest machine isn't happening. No one in their right mind would ask a bank for such without being laughed out of the building. Plus not only are third parties begging for this, but they know darn well that consumers are avoiding the PS3 because of the $499.99 asking. Let's do simple math shall we? Plentiful units plus (+) competitive prices equals (=) third party support, yey! We all know its manufacturing costs have gone down, so it's a load of bull that the company has publically stated at least twice over the past few months that there are no plans for a drop. Well, the Xbox 360 Arcade is cheapest at $199.99, and Wii hasn't budged from its $249.99 MSRP. There are currently two PS3 models out there, but the lesser expensive one is still $399.99, which equals the superior 360 Elite, and rings in at $150 more than Nintendo's domination. If whoever delivers the press conference keynote doesn't at least allure to something coming perhaps this summer, then all of COE will be scratching its heads. $499.99 just can't compete, as the NPD numbers continue to show. So what if the hardware has been moving a bit more in Japan? That's just because gamers in the Land of the Rising Sun are sick of the Wii's shovelware and are still avoiding the 360 at all costs. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete on Blu-ray, which contains a brief demo for the highly anticipated FF XIII, is the only reason the hardware has graced new homes. If Sony puts off addressing the prices like Nintendo did with opening the Wii's SD card slot for VC/WiiWare downloads, they're going to feel it. It's time to please those shareholders Sony!
The XIII demo isn't going to keep this going forever.
Second, they also can't hide the painfully obvious existence of PSP2. There's absolutely no reason to keep the facts locked away, especially with Patapon 2's experiment. Sony wants to attract as many newcomers as possible between now and perhaps the holiday season of 2010 before they launch the next PSP. Why else would they announce so many legitimate versions of Assassin's Creed, Rock Band [Unplugged], LittleBigPlanet [Portable], MotorStorm[: Arctic Edge], and whatever else is cooking up behind the scenes? Plus, Patapon 2 will soon test the waters of a download-only PSP software infrastructure when it hits the PlayStation Network and only that. Consumers will have the option of downloading it straight to a Pro Duo memory stick for $15, or shell out for a boxed voucher at their local GameStop or whatever. Sony just wants to see how people respond, while keeping retailers happy at the same time as they receive a cut of all voucher sales. Although I quote my buddy Jarrod here, "Why the hell would I waste my gas and an extra five bucks just to buy a piece of paper in a box?" This is the highest hurdle for the retail side, but I suppose if you receive a standard PSP box with cover art, instruction manual and all, the incentive may be there because gamers appreciate that. As for the PSP2 altogether, I think it's guaranteed to hear something about its progress; Sony has no reason to keep it under wraps at E3. The same goes for the current portable and the state of its software. I hope that Sony delivers a blowout of game announcements and shows what we do know about actually looks like. Plus if they finally introduce Trophies and other PS3/PSN functionality, that would make a lot of gamers very happy. I'm especially the proud owner of a new silver PSP-3000 and am enjoying the crap out of Resistance: Retribution. I'm hoping for more juicy details come June.
We hope this was the start of something beautiful.
For the online social aspect, I think Sony needs to either ditch Home completely or.....actually...yeah, just let it go. PS Home is the laughing stock of online gaming and player-to-player interaction. Sure it's had updates released for it, but it still pales in comparison to what the betas promised. With the XMB now conveniently on the PS3 dashboard, there's no reason to jump into Home unless you're a child and want to piss people off, or desperate to see your stupid avatar dance in central plaza. I don't want either, nor do any of my COE cohorts, and I imagine most of the PS3 user base could care less as well. It's a real shame that so much time was spent on it, but there's no one to blame but Sony.
Nonetheless, the PlayStation Network...the Store more specifically, is taking shape. It will be drastically better once the Japanese overhaul comes to North America, and with that comes what every one of us is anticipating: a breakout PS1 download library. Final Fantasy VII International is a mega-hit on the Japanese version, and we're sure all PS3 owners here are dying to relive or have the chance to play hundreds of classics. PS1 games aren't particularly large either, so this will be a dream come true. I'm pretty sure they can be played on the console or PSP, and having that option is sheer excellency. Currently there are about 40 titles available on the Store, but all but maybe three of them are "who cares?" kind of games. Wild ARMs and Suikoden are high-profile RPGs, and just imagine what else could come thanks to the poll setup on the Japanese counterpart. Valkyrie Profile, Grandia, Vagrant Story anybody?
Sony has also done well to establish a foundation for their first party projects, and licenses they have the sole rights to. Killzone 2, LittleBiPlanet, Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, God of War and casual IPs like Buzz! and SingStar have certainly served them well. I'm sure the upcoming inFAMOUS and Heavy Rain will also prove to be big hitters on the market. They need to continue on this path, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to fight back against Microsoft in the war for third party software or DLC exclusivity. Sony is really hurting on the GTA front in not having paid out for downloadable episodes. The Lost & Damned quickly cracked the one million mark on XBLM, while PS3 supporters wonder what happened to a franchise that previously saw immense success on PS2. Fallout 3 DLC continues to sell extremely well too, which is probably the reasoning behind Bethesda's recent announcement for Fallout: New Vegas, slated for Q4 2010. Sweet, another franchise that's being victimized by annualization! Sorry Sony, but a playable Final Fantasy XIII just won't be enough. You need to catch us off-guard with exclusivity announcements, and make sure they'll stay that way before opening your mouth. RE4 on GameCube anyone?
Come on Sony, let's get on the ball here!
As I've clearly described here, Sony doesn't just have a full plate in front of them, it's a full-fledged mob pining for the slightest bite of content possible. I believe the company has done OK with their in-progress restructuring and will have a significant presence at E3, but just how much of this will they manage/try to address? That's anybody's guess, and we'll find out in a little over a month.
WHAT JUSTIN WANTS BUT WON’T SEE
First and foremost...Kaz Hirai, stay clear of the stage, seriously. Mr. Tretton did a wonderful job humanizing the company last year, and deserves the spotlight again.
Despite what any logical gamer thinks should happen, I'm fairly certain that Sony will refuse to drop Home support. For as long as the service was in development, alongside assuredly millions invested with no return, the company is likely to cling onto their barebones Second Life for the sheer fact that they have to compete with Xbox Live. I seriously doubt Sony would magically come up with something completely different that could be ready by the end of the year, so they're going to keep pushing whatever they can to make Home more meaningful. Well tough luck Sony, no one cares anymore.
Sony has proven they're crazy this generation, especially from a PR standpoint. That's why I'm afraid that we'll walk out of their conference this year trying to recall an announcement for a PS3 price drop that was never spoken of. The company is losing a couple hundred dollars per PS3 sale, and I have an uneasy feeling that they'll want to ride the $499.99 coattail for as long as humanly possible. They don't appear to be responding much to third party and gamer outcries, so why would it bother them any more to continue holding back? They may come out of the blue once the holiday season is here this year, but I think they're going to ignore the issue for now and render focus to some of the others on my list. It's extremely unfortunate because the buzz that E3 creates could be incredibly beneficial to Sony, but they don't want to lose any more money than they already have. How's that for a double-edged sword? Prepare to stay used to the current pricing for the next good while.
Last and certainly not least, I better not see one more new PS3 model. Announce a bundle or something, that would be perfectly fine...but for real, no more models.
For real Sony…20gb to 60gb to 80gb and now 160gb…all along with removed hardware features?!
JUSTIN’S WISHFUL THINKING
- PSP2 unveiled with launch window of Q4 2010
- Grand Theft Auto V announced as PS3-exclusive
- Remote Play support expanded
- All versions of Final Fantasy XIII playable
- Actual game execution of Drawn to Life-like tech shown off
- PS3 80gb model dropping to $299.99 at the start of Q3 2009
What the original should have been, but we'll take it with 2.
JUSTIN’S PICK FOR *SHOW STOPPA*
E3 2009 is truly up for grabs. In recent years, Nintendo was lauded as the most entertaining and effective presenter, but they've floundered. If NCL/NOA retools who they cater to this time, the company behind Wii and DS could very well win over the media again. I have strong doubts about this though, so don't hold your breath. Microsoft is in an interesting position. They have permanently established their market, despite the unbelievably crappy 360 hardware, and their software library is second-to-none. MS doesn't necessary need a revolutionary conference or show floor to please us, but they've promised to bring it this year, so we'll see how their side pans out. On Sony's end...if somehow they can push that boulder even halfway up the slippery slope in front of them, perhaps positive media reaction can finally filter their way. All hardcore PS3 owners are aware that PS1 and PS2 Sony isn't PS3/PSP Sony, and all ears will be on-hand to hear about pending changes. If they ever hope to stabilize in the near future, Sony can't hold back, and I'm certainly looking forward to their inevitable blitz. If you want my prediction on this topic, I'll humor you. I hold out my hand for Sony. I just don't think Nintendo knows how to deal with the core gamer anymore, let alone assist third party software sales, and Microsoft isn't feeling cornered right now, so their risks will be less substantial. Anything can happen though of course, which is why E3 is always such a momentous event.
In case you're usually unaware, Justin's mailbox is wide open after articles like this. If you agree, disagree with the ideas presented here...whatever...let ProjectCOE's Editor-in-Chief know! E-mail Justin)
By: Justin Joseph - Editor-in-Chief