E3 2013 - The Next Generation

E3 really isn’t what it used to be. Part of that is the growth of the internet and social media, and part of it is that I’m not 12 anymore. It’s definitely hard to be surprised when dozens of first-plays and previews go up the day something is announced, and it’s harder to feel like I can read and re-read the tidbits that come out while still maintaining some sort of enthusiasm.

Wait, I’m sorry. That’s usually the type of thing I’d type up about E3. This year, however, we’re looking at the lead-up to a new generation of consoles – consoles that build upon the online models we’ve grown comfortable with, that build themselves into massively interconnected marketplaces. That means all the usual bellyaching about the yearly Trade Show flies out the window as we ponder new hardware and services. (We reserve bellyaching to the price announcements).

This year’s E3 brings together a kind of fervor and fan-boyish optimism that only comes by every now and again. As the floor opens tomorrow, sites across the web will flood with pictures, words, snark and amazement. We’ll wonder what videos were CGI bait fests, discuss whether the Microsoft press event ran videos or if the players holding controllers were actually doing anything, and use the promise of the new to engage that restless questioning that followed the E3 events of our youth.

We’re on the verge of a new generation of experiences; new ways to connect to, engage in, and share our passion; new toys to adorn our spaces. To someone technologically inclined, that's an exciting space to inhabit. But as we walk towards this future, I wonder what exactly we count as progress. Our new consoles will do more related to games (video editing, online conference calling, streaming and couchcasting, to name a few), but will treat gaming itself as a service to lease rather than a product to own. The previews we’ve seen so far offer beautiful visuals and new control methods, but how many gamers will actually be able to afford the experience being sold and how many of those vistas will offer something novel? We are told that the power within these black boxes enables us to explore things previously impossible, but we keep looking back to the standards of shooters to show this growth. And while we proclaim that gaming will be brought to families and friends, we listened to sexist vocalizations and jokes when women took the stage this morning.

To be fair, Sony’s press event (ongoing as I type this up) is killing it by presenting games that sample a variety of genres, feature diverse main characters, and embrace smaller developers. And while more impressive than Microsoft's offerings, neither company is adequately addressing the growing concern that this will be a generation whose experiences won't survive. If we’re standing atop hills and singing the praises of a new generation, shouldn’t we be looking for things that actually signal changes in attitudes?

There’s a lot to be excited about over the next few days, but I’m not so sure they’ll be the things I’ll be looking at.

Comments

consoles that build upon the online models we’ve grown comfortable with

Say what now?

consoles that build upon the online models we’ve grown comfortable with, that build themselves into massively interconnected marketplaces

Speak for yourself, mate. Many of us still have BS connections and are completely against what MS is doing.

Edit: and even if I had fiber optic, I would still be against unnecessarily forcing you to be connected to MS servers and being unable to play if they're down. MS still needs to learn A LOT from Steam, if they really want to go this way.

All MS is doing right now is giving Sony the keys to this generation.

consoles that build upon the online models we’ve grown comfortable with, that build themselves into massively interconnected marketplaces.

I have complete faith in the ability of consumers to completely forget/ignore the brouhaha over used games and online requirements and look at two things:

1 - Does it have the games I want on it; and
2 - Where are my friends playing.

For the overwhelming majority of console purchases, those two things will be what is taken ino account.

mudbunny wrote:
consoles that build upon the online models we’ve grown comfortable with, that build themselves into massively interconnected marketplaces.

I have complete faith in the ability of consumers to completely forget/ignore the brouhaha over used games and online requirements and look at two things:

1 - Does it have the games I want on it; and
2 - Where are my friends playing.

For the overwhelming majority of console purchases, those two things will be what is taken ino account.

It will be hard for them to forget when the most basic question of this console generation, as we know it at this moment, will be, will I pay $100 more for a console that is fundamentally limited compared to the other? I don't deny that folks who need to play Halo or Gears will probably not even consider what we've been talking about, but the multi platform titles like COD, Madden, Fifa, Battlefield... I'm willing to bet people just get the system that's cheaper ahead of any other consideration, not to mention what we've learned about the XO this week.

Enough about E3. I want to hear about Apple's Tube of Doom.

strangederby wrote:

Say what now?

In the course of this generation, we've grown accustomed (and in my case, expect) our consoles to have an online component built directly into the experience. Contrast that to the way online connectivity was shoehorned into the PS2 or Xbox. They were basically afterthoughts that enabled LAN play, or that let you tap in to some rare dlc (as was the case with MGS3).

The next iteration, what this generation is doing, is taking the marketplace that's been built over these last 7 years and turning it into a market that lives beyond the console. You access it on your Vita. You log into Xbox.com and queue up purchases. You rent movies through their services from a smartphone. Purchasing items from each company's online system is pretty standard.to me. It's not something that feels amazingly beyond its time, or really special. It's just another component of the system experience at this.point.

So really, the idea of an online marketplace attached to each system is commonplace. Even Nintendo's moved into that space. Whether the company is moving along responsibly, or in a consumer friendly manner, is quite another thing. I dont approve of what MS is pushing, for example, and I agree that their approach will alienate folks that don't have the money or resources available to be on the bleeding edge, it it seems to be their approach this cycle.

paketep wrote:
consoles that build upon the online models we’ve grown comfortable with, that build themselves into massively interconnected marketplaces

Speak for yourself, mate. Many of us still have BS connections and are completely against what MS is doing.

Edit: and even if I had fiber optic, I would still be against unnecessarily forcing you to be connected to MS servers and being unable to play if they're down. MS still needs to learn A LOT from Steam, if they really want to go this way.

All MS is doing right now is giving Sony the keys to this generation.

I would not say that is necessarily true. I think Xbox made headway into this generation by providing online multiplayer services on a console and they backed it up with a robust infrastructure.

Because of that, they were able to take over the US market and, as a result, you have a tremendous amount of users who are entrenched into XBL, because of the games they play and the friends they have.

I am switching teams this generation and pulling for the PS4, but I no longer care much about CoD, GoW, Halo, Madden, etc., so it is easy for me to migrate. If I still played those games on a regular basis and I had a clan of goodjers over XBL that I played with, the PS4 would not even be on my radar.

mudbunny wrote:
consoles that build upon the online models we’ve grown comfortable with, that build themselves into massively interconnected marketplaces.

I have complete faith in the ability of consumers to completely forget/ignore the brouhaha over used games and online requirements and look at two things:

1 - Does it have the games I want on it; and
2 - Where are my friends playing.

For the overwhelming majority of console purchases, those two things will be what is taken ino account.

Totally agree and this is why I pre-ordered an Xbox One already. There are lots of cool looking third party titles coming to both platforms but Xbox has the exclusives that interest me more. Everything else is just noise at this point.