The future of gaming resembles its past.
Expect to see plenty of sequels to popular franchises at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. E3 is arguably the most important gaming convention of the year. The biggest titles in the industry — Halo, Uncharted, and Mario — will all make appearances on behalf of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, respectively. And each third-party publisher will seek to establish or cement its own major property in an attempt to dethrone Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed.
We should also see the return of many games announced, hinted at, or even show during E3s past. This just may be the year The Last Guardian stops being a Twitter punchline.
But the throwback that has us most excited is also the most futuristic piece of tech at the show. Virtual reality and augmented reality should have huge showings, fulfilling a promise made by video games almost two decades ago. We've already told you what surprises we expect to see, along with which big name games we know will return. Here are our top-level expectations for this years Electronic Entertainment Expo.
A breakout moment for Bethesda
In the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 era, video game publisher Ubisoft established itself as a major contender alongside Electronic Arts and Activision. In large part that stemmed from the massive success of Assassin’s Creed's annual releases. This E3, Bethesda will make a play to join that trio of publishers with its own press conference. We know Doom and Fallout 4 will appear at the event. We may also see a renamed Prey 2 and a sequel to Dishonored.
Bethesda’s brands, including Elder Scrolls, are wildly popular, but they've yet to nail an annual series. Maybe that’s for the better, but don’t be surprised if at least one of these games becomes the company’s E3 staple.
Sequels, sequels, sequels
The biggest publishers on the planet are operating on horrifically thin margins. This manifests itself in a few unsavory ways: employees work longer hours, publicists advocate constant drips of blog promotion, retailers incentivize preorder sales, and publishers green-light sequels.
Sequels build off the successes of proven brands. When there’s no room for risk, sequels get made. But sequels aren’t all bad. Blockbuster video games have benefited from regular iteration, allowing developers to focus on the content of a game, and not creation of the tools that will build it.
Call of Duty, Uncharted, Halo, Madden, Assassin’s Creed, Mario: these are the big names of E3 this year and every year for the foreseeable future.
Superheroes and Star Wars begin their takeover attempt of video games
Microsoft has revealed huge collaborations with Disney at past E3s, most notably Disneyland and Star Wars Kinect games. Like most Kinect games, the final product fizzled. Recently, Disney partnered with EA on at least two AAA video games, both of which should appear at E3 alongside the already successful Disney Infinity brand. Marvel will also appear, in the very least, in Lego form, though AAA games in the universe seem inevitable. With at least one Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Walt Disney Animation Studios film released each year, along with tie-in books and television series, the company has mastered the art of juicing its properties. So where are decent games for Iron Man and Frozen?
DC Comics has the latest Batman nearing release with Warner Bros. E3 2015 would be an opportunity for the comic brand to get a leg up on Marvel. We’ll see if they take it.
The triumphant appearance of once-troubled projects
For years, games like The Last Guardian, Prince of Persia, and Mafia 3 have been rumored to appear at E3, only to be no shows. This year, many of these long-delayed projects should finally get overdue presentations.
Something big from Nintendo
Nintendo’s current roadmap looks a bit sparse. With the delay of The Legend of Zelda on Wii U, the rest of 2015 will see only a handful of new Nintendo-developed console games. While we don’t know for sure what will be on display at E3 — names like Metroid and Star Fox have been tossed around — we do know that Nintendo needs something to keep its fans excited. Last year it had a great showing at E3, and hopefully 2015 will be much of the same. Maybe we’ll even see what a Nintendo-developed mobile game looks like.
VR gets the attention it deserves
For the past few E3s, I've overheard conversations about the inevitable failure of virtual reality. At first, Oculus demos took place in small meeting spaces. Then VR spread to the main hall with the help of Sony and Morpheus, but the skepticism remained. This year it will be tough to ignore VR's momentum. Oculus has already announced its plans, leaving Microsoft and Sony to show what they intend to do in the space. 2015 will be the first big year for consumer VR, and E3 is primed to be its promotional launching pad.
That means you should expect to see an emphasis on VR games, not just the hardware. The tech each company has planned is impressive, but what will matter most is the games they play.
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