Playstation

Summary of E3

This year’s E3 was once again packed full of action and announcements. Sony and Microsoft went for their big press conferences as usual, whilst Nintendo had an entire day focused on the new Zelda game. Each company concentrated on something different. Microsoft talked a lot about their new technology, Sony focused on new games and game play, and Nintendo was a festival of all things Zelda. Nintendo were smart, and instead of concentrating on the NX and trying to rival the others, they gave fans what they have been waiting for  for years, a glimpse at the new Zelda game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (see separate article for details on this).

Microsoft announced their ‘Play Anywhere’ scheme, which will allow players to cross-play their games on the Xbox One and Windows 10, with the saves and achievements all being included for one price. The first of the Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive games shown off was a brutal Gears of War 4. Following the gruesome Gears game play, games including Forza Horizon 3, ReCore, Final Fantasy XV and Battlefield 1 were shown off to the crowds. The Minecraft guys then came on stage, with special guest John Cormack, to present Minecraft on the Oculus; there was no more information on the HoloLens, or even if that was still happening.

A tease of a game from the Limbo creators was shown, but not much else was known about it, before a bunch of indie games were listed. We Happy Few, which had a very Bioshock-like feeling about it that left me wanting to see more, was one of the only non-exclusive games shown. More games presented included Tekken 7, Dead Rising 4, Scalebound (a Final Fantasy-like game with dragons), Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2 and a Halo Wars 2 trailer. An announcement that Halo Wars beta was available now was also made. The one thing missing from the Microsoft conference was no mention of Crackdown 3, except a brief logo at the end.

Then came the killer for Microsoft; they announced details on their next generation console, dubbed ‘Scorpio’. They had already talked about a new, slimmer version of the Xbox One called the ‘Xbox S’, confirmed to be coming out in August of this year, but unexpectedly they announced 2 consoles.  Microsoft claimed it will be the most powerful console ever, with 4K gaming and 6 teraflops of power. With no word from Sony about their next console, there is nothing yet to compare it to.

With that jam-packed conference Sony had a lot to live up to. Whilst Sony didn’t talk about next gen, they did wow people with the PlayStation VR and their exclusive games. The conference itself was impressive, with a big orchestra playing throughout. They showed off a trailer for a new God of War game, as well as a Zombie game called Days Gone that could be the rival to Dead Rising. There was more to be seen of The Last Guardian and an official release date was announced, 25th of October. A massive amount of game play was shown for the Horizon: Zero Dawn, with futuristic robot-like enemies being killed by the female protagonist; Horizon will not be released until February 2017. After that, a trailer for the futuristic game Detroit: Become Human was played.

The main focus of the Sony conference seemed to be the PlayStation VR. Sony claimed there will be 50 games available for the PS VR by the end of the year, and they listed off some big hitters. Resident Evil 7, Star Wars, Batman and Final Fantasy will all have VR games on the PlayStation, as well as others such as the Sci-Fi shooter Farpoint, and even a Call of Duty game. A surprise that left the audience feeling happy was another remake, this time of all three Crash Bandicoot games.

The biggest hit for Sony during their conference, was massive cheers and applause as Hideo Kojima arrived on stage to tell us about his new, PlayStation exclusive game Death Standing. He came onto the stage and said the words ‘I’m back’, before a trailer heavily featuring a character based on The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus was shown. The trailer didn’t give us much information and it left the audience confused, but wanting to know more. Finishing the conference was an announcement that a new Spider-man game is coming, and some more footage of Days Gone.

Like Microsoft, there were a few things missing from the conference, including no word on the PlayStation Neo, no more about the Final Fantasy remake, and no update on Shenmue. There was also no mention of the PS Vita, so it looks like that Sony may have finally given up on it.

Whilst a lot of people were apprehensive about E3 and how well it would do this year, it did not disappoint. A few of the bigger companies had decided not to have booths this year, which had people worried, but the show was action packed full of gaming fun to look forward to in the future.

The Rise and Fall of Console Gaming

I grew up on consoles, both handheld and home, but I was always a Nintendo fan girl from a young age. My first console was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), or the Famicom as it was better known in Japan. I spent hours jumping on Gumbas’ heads, or running away from Boo, or even shooting ducks with my NES zapper in Duck Hunt.

A vertical rectangular wooden structure with a visual display unit embedded in the front side.Arcade games were considered the first wave of video games. The highest grossing arcade games included the popular Pac-Man and Space Invaders, of which there have been many variants on consoles over the years. Although other games had come before it, the game Pong helped arcade games to reach mainstream popularity in 1972. The popularity of arcade games peaked in the 1970s but had waned by the mid 1990s due to homes games consoles taking over, except in Japan where there are still many arcades left today.

The second generation was the rise of home video games consoles such as Atari 2600 and ColecoVision, and was a part of both the Golden Age of games and their spread across America, as well as the first fall of  gaming. The first fall of video games came with the famous 1983 video games crash. Multiple reasons were said to be the cause of the crash, including a saturation of the market, the loss of publishing control, inflation, and high profiled failures such as the well documented fall of Atari; last year the documentary Atari: Game Over explained it well.

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The effect of the crash meant that the home video game console market shifted from America to Japan. The industry recovered in 1985, when the NES was launched in America (although it had already launched in Japan as the Famicon in 1983). In many online polls the NES has been considered to be the greatest console of all time.

The NES was part of the third generation of consoles, and the next generation moved onto the Super Nintendo and Nintendo’s first big rival; the Sega Mega Drive. The Sega Mega Drive provided an alternate to the popular Mario character with Sonic the Hedgehog. Nintendo and Sega were the two major competitors until something completely different came along; the first Sony PlayStation. Nintendo had been in talks with Sony to make the first disc based console, but after this deal fell through Sony created the original PlayStation. Whilst Nintendo’s N64 sold well, the fact that Sony had gone forward with a CD based console instead of cartridge negatively impacted Nintendo’s shares, and Sony took over as the leader in the video games market.PSX-Console-wController.jpg

Along with Nintendo’s Game Cube, Sony’s PlayStation 2 and Sega’s Dreamcast, Microsoft got on board the console trail with the 6th generation of consoles with their highly successful Xbox in 2001. The Dreamcast was the final games console that Sega released. Although the Dreamcast had been considered to be ahead of the times, with it being the first console with internet support, Sega struggled to recover from the losses it endured with the Sega Saturn.  The stiff competition from the success of the PlayStation 2 also meant the Dreamcast had poorer sales than the company needed.

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In terms of hand-held consoles, Nintendo have always really ruled that market since the launch of the Game Boy in 1989. In terms of the list of the top-selling games consoles, the Nintendo DS and Game Boy are both in the top 5, being beaten in sales only by the PlayStation 2. Sony attempted it with the PS Vita, but its success never really kicked off; compared to the vast sales of over 100 million units each for the DS and Game Boy, the PS Vita has only sold 4 million. People have lost interest in it, including Sony themselves if the recent E3 showings are anything to go by, and it seems to be on a rapid decline.

The rise of the iPhone and smart phones has brought a whole new type of gamers into the fold; casual gamers. In some ways they are the new generation of hand-held consoles with all the games and applications available. First came the apps and games on the iPhone, and later on more games were also developed on android platforms. Although games on phones had been around since the days of Snake on the Nokia phones, the iPhone has provided a vastly available range of apps and games. Mobile games were cheaper and easier to play than a lot of console games, with games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush taking over. To try to catch the casual market, TV and music apps, as well as social media, were incorporated onto major consoles.

Whilst the future of console gaming definitely seems more positive than in recent years, with more and more people finally making the jump to the next-gen consoles, it had remained stagnant for a while. Unlike previous launches of next-gen consoles, a lot of people had been reluctant to shell out and upgrade, with the PS4 and Xbox One having a lack of major titles at launch that weren’t also available on the older consoles. The concept of virtual and augmented reality seems to be the next big test for consoles, with more companies developing games and VR headsets, but only time will tell if these will be successful or not.