E3 2017: Hopes and dreams

 

images

Every June the electronic entertainment industry, primarily made up of video games and computers, come together to showcase all of their upcoming and latest projects at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3. It can be an exciting time for a gamer so here are a few things I am hoping to get attention at this year’s expo, and a few wild dream projects I will throw out just for fun. I will break it down by platform one at a time.

xbox

Microsoft:

Normally I really do not pay any attention to what they are doing. Until recently I never even owned an Xbox console. Now that I own both an original and a 360 I am starting to change my attitude towards the system. But that is not why I am interested in hearing what Microsoft has to say. There are a couple of things I want to hear about from Microsoft and I am fully expecting 1 of them to get a lot of attention, one will be wishful thinking and the other pie-in-the-sky not going to happen but I will suggest it anyways.

Scorpio

Whatever it turns out to be I am at least curious to learn more about it. I want to see form factor, learn about what exclusive features it will offer that the normal Xbox One doesn’t, beyond 4K, and I want to learn about the price and potential exclusive games, if any.

If the price is right, and the rest is to my liking, I might make Scorpio my entry point into the Xbox One family of gaming machines. Of course I am also cheap so I might go the S route or just spend my money elsewhere, who knows. All I do know is right now I am actually curious to see what Microsoft has to offer, and that is a first for me.

Windows

I want to learn more about how Microsoft intends to keep PC gamers sticking to the platform and helping it grow. I also want to learn more about their tablet future. I have a Windows laptop/tablet hybrid and I rarely, I mean hardly ever, almost never, use the tablet mode. I want to learn what they are going to do to make the tablet features of Windows more appealing to the masses so that Windows can continue to be healthy and maybe not disappear like Amiga.

Mobile

I do not want Microsoft to give up on mobile entirely but I want them to do it right. A dedicated Xbox tablet that can play Xbox specific content, but also have a mobile OS that is built from the ground up to function on a hand held type device, with the power of an Xbox might be worth checking out. Basically copy the Switch but with Xbox games. I know this won’t sell in the same numbers, but they can make it profitable if they meter their expectations and focus on what works and don’t make it an all-in-one machine.

VR

Microsoft has done nothing with VR in any meaningful way, I want to see them get into the arena in a big way so that VR can finally become a real success once and for all. I am like most, I am on the fence because VR is expensive, so if there was at least one more major player in the game it will go a long way in both bringing down costs and increasing the output of content.

Playstation-logo-colour

Sony:

Honestly I am not that excited about hearing what Sony has to offer other than announce some games and if at all possible try to talk about VR. In fact all I want to learn about is VR, a price drop and with some good bundles might be interesting, and at least 2 to 3 new, compelling games might go a long way. I know VR is struggling, but there are too many players with too much money invested for it to disappear entirely, it’s going to catch on eventually, but I think the cost is the biggest hindrance, always has been, so if more companies get involved and the ones in it double down it might have more of a shot. I want Sony to succeed because I have grown attached to the Playstation brand and even their non-gaming stuff has always been appealing to me.

I would also like for Sony to announce another PSP family of devices, something with more in common with the Switch maybe. Yes, Switch has changed the game and we all know that means others are going to look for any way they can to get in on that success, which I hope they do, having 1 device that doubles as a portable and home console is every gamers dream, or, at least it should be.

Nintendo Switch logo

Nintendo:

Games. That is all. Announce as many games as you can. I want Switch to succeed and for that to be a reality it needs as much variety as possible. They have already proven it will be a decent machine for fighting game enthusiasts like myself, not hard core like Playstation but certainly better than Wii U. They are also bringing more RPG games to the table than they have in several hardware generations, at least on the console side. I always figured it they truly merged their two divisions into one it would mean very big success for the company, as when you get down to it splitting the fanbase has always been their biggest weakness, now with a unified Nintendo fanbase, yes, we are unstopable and MS better pay attention as they keep splitting their fanbase between console, tablet, and PC.

6165-windowsSonynintendo-logoSega

The future:

I predict there will come a time when you have 3 companies doing three different things all catering to 3 different demographics. This is not so much a place a bet kind of prediction and not just wishful thinking, call it more an educated guess coupled with some strong hopes.

I want Nintendo to throw everything into the Switch and just BE the handheld gamer kings with a machine you take with you but can also plug into the TV when you want. I have been asking for this ever since the Game Boy Player transformed by GameCube from a second rate Xbox wannabe into a true gaming masterpiece.

I want Sony to double down on the console space, pushing for the best VR and augmented reality experiences making themselves the premium gaming device for the game that wants a more solid experience than the basic, but steady, offerings of Nintendo.

As for Microsoft, I just want them to get out of hardware entirely and focus everything on making Windows the very best it can be so that PC gaming can live on. If these three companies each focus on doing their one thing and doing it very well, we will live in a gaming utopia where everyone gets what they want. Then Sega can continue to exist in the last area they still have some clout, the arcade scene, which is far from dead but not what it once was.

With everyone trying to fight for a piece of the pie, dividing the gamer base into smaller segments, it just causes much division, infighting, confusion, and so-called console wars. If Microsoft focused just on PC and conceded consoles to Sony, like Nintendo has, and Nintendo focuses entirely on handhelds and remains committed to their exiting of consoles, which I contend is what Switch is, then that leaves Sony alone in the living room, Nintendo alone in your backpack and Microsoft alone in the computer space and everyone wins. Okay maybe not entirely without some overlap but you still have competition, just more focused with each doing their own thing, but doing it better than ever. Since that scenario is not likely, I just want everyone to get the best games they can and not worry so much about what the other guys are doing. Competition is a good thing, but we do have too much overlap in some areas.

Virtual Reality is finally near

Go back in time to the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and there was this prevailing belief in our culture that virtual reality was going to someday become a reality. We had glimpses of it in the 90’s but they were expensive ventures that had little real substance.

In 2006 the first strides were made to bring VR to the masses. Nintendo released their Wii gaming machine that introduced motion controls to the world of interactive entertainment. While the concept was a novel idea, the execution ultimately turned into nothing more than just that, a novelty. Still the sales success of the Wii and it’s “magic wand” did re-introduce gamers to the idea of virtual reality and soon their competitors began offering motion controls and immersive experiences on their machines as well.

Then a few years latter Oculus was conceived which has finally made its way to market. I am not here to actually write a review of the Oculus Rift, since I don’t currently own one and I haven’t had a chance to demo one either. Instead I just want to express my excitement that between this machine and others now hitting the market, or soon to be hitting the market, I will soon get a chance to experience that world of VR that was promised to us over twenty years ago.

If you are not clear what Virtual Reality is think of it as total immersion. In normal, or should I say traditional, video games you sit on a couch and interact with the TV using a game controller. Wii took this a step closer to immersion giving us motion controls, that were neat but ahead of their time. Wii itself was actually a repeat of a similar attempt two decades earlier, the Power Glove. So with any new technology it takes time for things to advance to a point where consumers might buy in.

There are two schools of thought that are prevailing currently when it comes to VR. The first is the skeptics who have watched VR tech come and go for years and see this new round as nothing more than a waste of money and energy. TheĀ  argument is these machines are too expensive, the games are not ready, there are too few types of games that would benefit from VR, the list goes on.

The other school of though is that with the level of investment and excitement this time VR is bound to take off. The argument goes that the entry point isn’t as great as it used to be, that it is in line with other budding technologies of our time that have taken off, so not out of reach for the average consumer. They also argue that with as much competition now there is a greater chance of success.

If you look at either argument you will see they both have some merits. While I personally think VR is the future, and I am super excited for the devices that are hitting the market, I do concede that price is an issue. For me in order to get into Oculus I would need to spend a minimum of $950 dollars on a compatible PC, that is if I order one pre-tested by Oculus to work, I could always buy a cheaper model or build one my own and “make it fit” by upgrading necessary hardware but in the end the time cost doesn’t balance the money saved so I would still prefer to buy a pre-built machine proven to work. Then on top of that there is the $600 entry fee of the machine itself. On top of that I would need to buy compatible games, non of which I currently own as of right now. This puts Oculus just out of my reach. While true I am planning on buying a new computer in the very near future, I am not looking to spend that kind of money on one at this time.

With Oculus out that leaves me looking at the three, that I know of, devices either on the market or about to be by the end of the year. The one I am most likely to purchase is the Playstation VR. Why? Because for starters I already own a PS4 which is the base machine required for the Playstation VR. Also I currently own a couple of dozen games for the PS4 and several of the games that are set to be compatible with Playstation VR are games I was already interested in getting. This means that the barrier of entry is lower for me, I can buy the headset, pick up a compatible game and be on my way for about the price of a new game console. Now unless the NX totally blows my mind, I am perfectly happy buying a PS VR since I am planning on getting a new console this year anyways, it was either going to be Xbox One or NX but I might just stick to getting PS VR.

One thing that makes me excited about this round of VR is the technology has finally arrived where it no longer is a burden to play. I am also excited by the number of companies getting into this, especially seeing Sony who is the world-wide leader in the video game industry. I don’t think VR is “here and now” like many are proclaiming but I have always felt it was the future and for the first time I do believe that future is very near.