Wednesday, August 20, 2014

News
E3 Expo to showcase games, not consoles
by Chris Patterson


(CNN) -- Much of the focus this week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the video game industry's big annual trade show, will be on Microsoft and Sony, which both have new game consoles coming in time for the holiday shopping season.

But the spotlight inside the Los Angeles Convention Center won't be so much on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as what's really important: the games themselves.

With these two next-generation consoles on the near horizon, game developers are in a transitional period between the new devices and the ones that people enjoy in their homes right now. Many of the titles featured during E3 may be playable immediately, with a next-gen option down the road.

Sony is bringing more than 40 games for its PS3 and handheld PSVita as well as the forthcoming PS4. "Beyond: Two Souls," "Gran Turismo 6" and "Killzone: Shadow Fall" are just a few of the much-anticipated titles it'll be featuring. And Bungie, creators of the popular "Halo" franchise, will show gameplay from "Destiny," a new game.

"People want to see games, and we are hopefully going to bring a game that people will love," said Eric Osborne, senior writer for "Destiny" and the head of community for Bungie, the game's developer. "We've worked really hard, and bleary eyes are starting to give way to smiles. It's just really exciting for us. You always wonder what people are going to say."

Microsoft purposefully split its Xbox One announcement into two parts so it could focus exclusively on games during E3 -- specifically, the 15 exclusive franchises it has promised for the first year of Xbox One.

While it might appear Nintendo is scaling down its E3 efforts by not holding a showcase event, the game company actually has more events planned than usual. It also is appealing directly to consumers by focusing specifically on its software lineup and letting them play new game demos at select Best Buy stores in North America.

Ubisoft is another publisher with one foot in the present and one in the future. It will be showing off more of "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag," a title due out in October for all current consoles (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii). The company will also provide a little taste of its next-gen offering, "Watch Dogs," at E3.

Yannis Mallat, CEO of Ubisoft Montreal Studio, said his company didn't wait around for details on the new consoles but began development on its game years ago with an eye to what could be. Mallat said he believes all that advance planning is going to pay off and people will see the results during the show.

Other companies are also looking forward to getting their titles on the E3 global stage. And it wouldn't feel like a complete E3 without a new "Call of Duty" or "Battlefield" game.

"Call of Duty: Ghosts" (Infinity Ward/Activision), the 10th in the blockbuster franchise, will be playable on current and future consoles. "Battlefield 4" (DICE/Electronic Arts) will give gamers a first look at its multiplayer mode at E3.

Gamers also are looking forward to getting their hands on "Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain" (Konami), "Duck Tales: Remastered" (Capcom), "Batman: Arkham Origins" (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment) and the latest funky installment from "Saints Row 4" (Volition/Deep Silver).

Pete Hines, vice president of public relations and marketing for Bethesda Softworks, said that his company and others must strike a balance between serving their current fan base (with "The Elder Scrolls Online") and developing games such as "Wolfenstein: The New Order" for future consoles.

"We're still developing games for what is essentially a moving target," Hines said. "I think it is going to be a very fun E3 because it is going to be all about the games and very little talk about some of the other stuff."

Disney also will be making a splash at E3 with "Disney Infinity," a new entry into the toy figurine/video game genre made popular by the "Skylanders" franchise. Gamers will be able to play with their favorite Disney and Pixar characters in a video game as well as the toy figurines.

Activision isn't letting Disney walk all over its turf though. Its "Skylanders SWAP Force" will be on display, offering new innovation for the genre. In this game, interchangeable halves of characters will challenge players' creativity while effectively doubling the number of characters you can play in the game.

E3's trade-show floor opens at noon PT Tuesday and runs through Thursday. It was first held in 1995 and is traditionally a media-only event, although many fans find ways to get in.