New technology brings new ways to communicate and connect to each other. That was a big theme we saw at this year’s E3. Games are getting bigger, open-world, and to fill that space, is not computer-controlled characters, it’s other people. That’s big. We don’t traditionally think about games as single- and multiplayer in one. Games like The Division, Need For Speed: Rivals, Destiny, and Titanfall seem to be making decisions that will change how we think about games, and I hope how we talk about them too.
Even smartphone and tablet integration, however secondary to the console experience it may seem, was being pushed pretty hard this year. The idea is sound. Instead of a cheaply made, sub-par version of a game, mobile devices can actually interact with the bigger games. It makes sense for developers and publishers to want to do this stuff, tablets and smartphones are huge, and only growing. I’m not sure if we’ve found the best implementation, but it’s a strong one that seems to have its uses.
It’s pretty exciting to see games from smaller developers make huge appearances at this year’s E3. Games like Below, Transistor, Galak-Z, and Hohokum show the influence indie games have had on the industry, and I think it’s a sign of growth. When I hear that Supergiant Games’ Transistor had seven or eight booths right next to big, triple-A games, I get the feeling the label of “indie game” is going away, or at least, losing its meaning. These games can stand right next to the biggest, most expensive games this year. We don’t need to position them as anything lesser, they’re all games, and we should treat them that way.
E3 2013 cannot be mentioned without bringing up Sony and the PlayStation 4. Sony spun a powerful narrative beginning with its next-generation console unveil in February. PlayStation 4 is all about the games. For the people who will likely buy that console on launch day, that’s an effective message to portray. What does that mean for the future, when our consoles need to do more than play games? I don’t know. But, when compared to Microsoft and the Xbox One, Sony is speaking to a specific audience, and that audience happens to be very vocal. Microsoft’s audience, or demographic as Gameological Society’s John Teti so excellently describes in his piece, isn’t as much, and it’ll be interesting to see how the company responds to both Sony’s attitude and price in the months leading up to November. This “console war” is far from over.