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Countdown to E3 2014: Predictions, Expectations and Anticipation

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In five days the Electronic Entertainment Expo (or gaming Christmas as it’s often called) is making its return to Los Angeles, bursting with announcements and games of every kind. But with countless delays of games into 2015, gamers are wondering whether this year’s show might disappoint when it comes to solid exclusives. Leading up to the big event, here are my predictions for the main companies and some of the games that will likely be shown off at the event.

As my most followed and respected gaming company, Sony blew everyone away last year with a pitch-perfect presentation of why PS4 is THE console worth buying, not to mention the numerous shots fired at Microsoft’s original Xbox One policies which had enraged legions of gamers worldwide. Yet despite their huge success with the PS4 thus far, Sony has been struggling financially, selling off other divisions such as VAiO laptops and its shares in Japanese developer Square Enix to cover its losses. Sony’s gaming division has the potential to prop up the company’s profits but only if they make good on their promises on the gaming front.

What I’m expecting from Sony

Sony may have taken the crown last year, but their new slogan “Greatness Awaits” won’t be good forever; the exclusives need to come thick and fast, just as they for PS3 from 2008 onwards. By that I mean a steady stream of titles which will be rolled out from now till next year’s E3. The big exclusives can’t all be delayed to 2015 so it may be time to invest in even more new franchises for the PlayStation. Knowing Sony and their primary focus on gaming, they should rise to meet this challenge but if they shrug their shoulders and stick to games like The Last of Us: Remastered then it will no doubt be a bitter blow and a huge step back from last year’s domination.

What could happen?

The Last Guardian and Agent could come back, this time on PS4. Fans of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus have been waiting for Team Ico’s next spiritual masterpiece involving the journey of a boy and his pet griffin for quite some time. Likewise for Agent, an espionage thriller set in the Cold War, developed by none other than Rockstar Games. Given the developer’s legendary reputation for the Grand Theft Auto series, Sony would be wise to make good on this new IP, especially on a platform in need of some killer exclusive games.

After taking a beating at last year’s show on Sony’s part; Microsoft was inspired to finally get back on track, having caught up with its free games on Xbox and removed the controversial (and by many accounts rip-off!) kinect from the Xbox One. With the older executives gone, the newly promoted Phil Spencer seeks to repair the damage done by the likes of Don Mattrick amongst other blunders and get the Xbox brand back on the good side of gamers with a better focus and philosophy for the Xbox One. But all the build-up won’t matter if MS can’t deliver where it counts; games.

What I’m expecting from Microsoft

Just like Sony, I’m expecting big games from Microsoft; exclusives that justify Phil Spencer’s focus whilst also proving the Xbox One’s commitment to games as well as all over entertainment. They’ll still show the same Call of Duty demo and possibly talk a bit about their television strategies but I want to see new IPs; let’s see Microsoft branch out and try new ideas rather than just reusing Halo, Gears of War and Forza over and over again. Insomniac Games has already kicked off this trend with Sunset Overdrive, perhaps the biggest exclusive this year for Xbox One. Hopefully other studios owned by the corporation will follow in its footsteps.

What could happen?

Perhaps Microsoft may finally let Rare loose to work on its own projects again? It would be a logical decision to follow on from removing the Kinect. Rare was once a household name in game design and after years of making Kinect games, could they rise to prominence once again?

Ever since the release of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Nintendo has endured a bitter slog, cutting its profit forecasts and continuing to suffer lacklustre sales for its Wii U system. Whilst games like the recent Mario Kart 8 have kept it going, there’s no denying that the system is really on the ropes, hopelessly outmatched when compared to its competitor’s features, despite ironically having the best exclusives. With the company not holding an official conference for the second year in a row, Nintendo needs something to pull itself out of the fire, and this time it won’t be just Mario, Zelda, and Metroid that save them.

What I’m expecting from Nintendo

Nintendo needs to find a solution for the struggling Wii U and that means giving third party developers an incentive to get back on board, and with that, there will be more inclinations to release new multiplatform titles on the system as well as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. More details on the next Zelda and maybe a new Metroid title wouldn’t hurt either.

What could happen?

If the Wii U continues to struggle on as it does right now, then Nintendo may be forced to put a contingency plan in place to avoid crashing out of the console business. An entirely new system could be announced via their direct feed, one which catches up on features and is able to better compete with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Despite consistently wearing the dubious mantle of “Most hated gaming company” amongst the community, EA still has some potentially brilliant games up their sleeve. Whether or not they botch the launches of their upcoming titles or build up false hype is a story reserved for later in the year. While there were titles players had been waiting for such as Star Wars Battlefront 3 and Mirror’s Edge 2, EA babbled on about sports games such as Madden 25 for far too long at their conference; which led to great anger when the finished products looked and played nothing like what was shown earlier that year. In the eyes of gamers EA still has a lot to prove, but could that change at this year’s E3?

What I’m expecting from Electronic Arts

EA’s conference was a mixed bag last year, so I hope to see them show more of what we actually want to see ie: more Battlefront 3 and Mirror’s Edge 2 gameplay and a cut-down of the crap associated with sports titles. Of course they’ll have to talk about these titles but it really shouldn’t take up more than ten minutes seeing as how most of what EA claims of its sport titles are mostly broken promises anyway. If the various tweets from last year’s show are anything to go by, EA seriously needs to rethink its stance towards sports games.

What could happen?

TimeSplitters 4? Fans of the shooter series have long yearned for a fourth entry in the franchise and while it has been announced by Crytek UK (formerly known as Free Radical) the game has remained dormant for many years. Because Crytek is owned by EA, this year could be an opportune time to bring the serious back the same way they did with Battlefront last year.

Having recently released the highly anticipated Watch Dogs, Ubisoft is again returning to E3 as it usually does, with several games from its various franchises to show off; these include Assassin’s Creed Unity, Far Cry 4, and The Division. It will probably be business as usual, showing off the major titles whilst also possibly expanding them into other mediums. Although as proven by Watch Dogs, Ubisoft is no stranger to new IPs and so new titles could emerge in their press conference this year.

What I’m expecting from Ubisoft

Last year’s press conference for Ubisoft certainly delivered with a variety of titles but the company resorted to trailers, some of which we had already seen rather than live demos which made the presser as a whole rather muted. Because Sony transferred the demos of Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag to their conference last year, I want to see Ubisoft build up excitement again. By showing in-game demos it really puts across what we’ll be playing much better than a trailer ever could.

What could happen?

Could there be another presenter blunder? Ubisoft has made a habit of hiring quite charismatic presenters in recent years, but they do have a habit of being quite awkward or in the case of “Mr Caffeine”, extremely over the top. Having a presenter who knows the facts about games and conducts themselves with a bit more seriousness would make a better impression when comparing the conferences with each other.

Potential trends of the show

  • · Virtual Reality: Despite the previously failed attempts to make the holy grail of gaming immersion a reality, quite a few companies seem to be jumping into this field again. Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus are leading this charge. Although neither of these have a confirmed release date, we’re sure to see the peripherals feature quite a bit at this year’s show.
  • · Enhanced services on the consoles: Both Microsoft and Sony have introduced many new features, made possible by the power of the new systems and the ever increasing relevance of cloud computing. Sony has PlayStation Now; a rental service which will stream games from PlayStation One to present. Microsoft on the other hand is touting the cloud as making its exclusive games better, particularly where open world games are concerned. With luck, both companies might make good on these promises this time around, given how they’ve had a year to develop past the concept stage.
  • · Upgraded engines in more fully-fledged games: Last year’s E3 saw the announcement of Unreal Engine 4 and while the “Infiltrator” demonstration back then was only a tech demo, the technology has heaps of potential on the new gaming consoles and PC. Crytek has also updated it’s CryEngine to fit the new systems. As with the console services, a year in development should allow developers to put out more fully-fledged games running on the new engines, providing the next-gen oomph that has been quite lacking in the eighth generation of consoles thus far.

So those were my predictions for E3. What are you looking forward to the most at this year's show?

25 Gaming Franchises that lived and died on the last generation

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When it comes to modern gaming, a large majority of new releases are part of a franchise but when the next generation of consoles comes about, not all of these can make the jump for many reasons. This list contains series that had more than one entry to their name but did not (or probably will not) reach PlayStation 4 or Xbox One anytime soon.

1. Motorstorm (PS3: Evolution Studios)

Motorstorm was one of the first PS3 exclusives; often bundled with the system upon its release back in 2006, the game was focused on off-road racing with many different vehicle and terrain types to consider. The series went on to host four more titles on the PS3 and PSP including the tropical island focused Pacific Rift but eventually came to a stop after Motorstorm Apocalypse and RC in 2011 and early 2012.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

With Evolution Studios moving on to develop the social focused DriveClub for PlayStation 4, it’s easy to suggest that the MotorStorm festival has spent its last petrol tank on the racing scene. The servers for each title have gradually been shut down since 2012, fully closing the doors on the series.

2. Guitar Hero, Rock Band and DJ Hero (Multiplatform: Harmonix)

Debuting in 2005, 2007 and 2009 respectively, the peripheral based Guitar Hero, Rock Band and DJ Hero are easily the crown jewels in Harmonix and Activision’s efforts in the music genre. The plastic instruments may not have been realistic up to Rock Band 3 but that didn’t stop the three games from becoming immensely popular in party play. Rock Band was particularly revolutionary in that it brought the music genre to the mainstream, allowing for four players to play guitar, bass, keyboard, drums or even sing. The three series make up 11 games in total but have all since slowed down in the last few years.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

All three music series started off strong in terms of sales and popularity but from 2009 onwards this gradually declined to the point where Activision cancelled the Guitar Hero and DJ Hero series. This could have been down to the advent of more realistic music simulators such as Rocksmith as well as the over-saturation of the rhythm genre, especially where Guitar Hero is concerned.

3. Army of Two and Kane and Lynch (Multiplatform: EA and IO Interactive respectively)

AOT and KAL are both similar games in that they both feature two tough-as-nails protagonists and both have a primary focus on cooperative gameplay. Both started towards the beginning of the seventh generation with the two titles making their debuts on PS3 and Xbox 360. There were three titles for Army of Two, and two for Kane and Lynch which tried to different levels of success to fill the coop shooter niche from 2008 through to 2013 with ‘’Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days’’ and ‘’Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel’’ rounding off the two series.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Army of Two and Kane and Lynch both started off with mixed to mildly positive critical reception but as things went on, the series both got more mediocre and tedious, refusing to push forward whilst magnifying what was wrong with the games to begin with. Kane and Lynch in particular fell flat on its face with Dog Days as it had a painfully short single-player campaign and an all-around lazy design.

4. LittleBigPlanet (PS3: Media Molecule)

LittleBigPlanet arrived in the first much needed wave of exclusives for PS3 and it met expectations brilliantly, revolutionising user-generated content for consoles in the process and giving the system its first major mascot. Thousands of fully-fledged levels were made using the in-game editing tools and the 2011 sequel pushed things even further by allowing full games to be made. There were also two handheld entries on the PSP and PlayStation Vita and a kart racing spin-off, all of which did well both critically and commercially. Since 2012 the series has not been heard from however.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

With the enormous amount of DLC and user-generated content made in both games, LittleBigPlanet is more than capable of sustaining itself over the years to come. Developer Media Molecule has been getting into other projects including Tearaway and an unannounced PS4 title. The series that made them famous could make it to PS4 at some point but at the moment, the developer may want to try something new for a new system.

5. Dead Space (Multiplatform: EA)

Debuting in 2008, Dead Space was once a staple in modern horror gaming with its unique combat system of strategic dismemberment, rather than constantly aiming for the head. The original took place on the claustrophobic and blood-streaked corridors of the Ishimura, the sequel opened things up on Titan Station and the third moved to the icy Tau Volantis, with mixed results. There were also a few spin-offs here and there, including Ignition and Dead Space Mobile but since DS3 there has been no word of any future games in the series.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Like many survival horror titles in modern gaming, Dead Space gradually fell into the trap of being butchered into an action game in an attempt to appeal to as wide an audience as possible and when this reached boiling point with Dead Space 3, fans were decidedly angry, even more so for the micro-transactions that EA placed into the title. Despite these complaints, the game still sold well and the story left things open for a fourth game in the series. But no thanks to the sales forecasts that were not met, EA has effectively pulled the plug on Dead Space.

6. The Conduit and Red Steel (High Voltage Software and Ubisoft respectively)

Much like Army of Two and Kane and Lynch, The Conduit and Red Steel were both motion controlled first person shooter games for the Nintendo Wii. The latter anchored the launch of Nintendo’s system whilst the former sought to reach the success had by Metroid Prime 3 two years later. Both made fairly good use of the console’s motion controls for pinpoint shooter controls but ended before they could reach ‘’system-seller’’. The Conduit 2 in particular suffered from a cliff-hanger that continues to tease fans to this day.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Both The Conduit and Red Steel thrived because of the Wii’s motion controls which allowed for precision gunplay but when Nintendo moved away from this scheme with the Wii U’s tablet controller, the series would have lost what made it enjoyable for fans. The Conduit in particular possesses development problems; a third game in the series would have a hard time appearing on the Wii U because of High Voltage’s independent publishing.

7. Supreme Commander (PC: Gas Powered Games)

The Supreme Commander series is incredibly complex in terms of strategy, boasting a huge amount of different units and an even bigger amount of thought needed to succeed in battle. But with all its complexity the series also brought some new ideas to the table, including the ACU (armoured command unit) used to build and maintain bases. The series had two main games from 2007 to 2010 with the Forged Alliance expansion in-between, but as of 2012 Gas Powered Games seems to have gone into hiding with little word on what they are working on next.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

The strategy genre is often very crowded and from 2010 onwards many long awaited RTS games were released including StarCraft 2, Civilization 5 and the Total War games seemed to shift Supreme Commander from its top spot and gained significantly more popularity in the process. If Supreme Commander 3 was released it would face some stiff competition against its contemporaries.

8. Overlord (Multiplatform: Triumph Studios)

Overlord was an interesting series for what it was; playing as an evil Overlord commanding a horde of minions mixed role-playing and strategy into a fairly solid mix with the two main games in its lifespan. Not only would the Overlord battle through varied levels but he would also build and upgrade his base of operations; a great incentive to keep playing for fans of the series. The game was often very humorous too with Rhianna Pratchett’s patented writing making its way into the series.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Overlord had some good moments but the series suffered from persistent issues such as camera problems and fiddly multi-tasking that may have contributed to lowered review scores and therefore stopped the series from progressing any further. Triumph Studios has since returned to other franchises, such as the recently released Age of Wonders 3. At this point the studio will either return to Overlord at some point in the future or start something completely new.

9. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Multiplatform: LucasArts)

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed had some brilliant potential; the gameplay showing off the most destructive uses of the force was eventually paired with a great story which filled in the gaps between Episodes 3 and 4 of George Lucas’s Sci-Fi epic. But when the two games in the series were actually released they failed to live up to the hype promised by the trailers, growing repetitive very quickly and being rather restrictive in the amount of destruction that could take place on screen.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

With the closure of LucasArts last year, the fate of ‘’The Force Unleashed’’ now lies within the hands of Disney and EA who are handling the development of all future titles in the Star Wars Universe. Though given the lukewarm critical response of both games it’s difficult to see the series making a comeback; EA’s current focus is clearly on delivering the next Battlefront game whereas Disney has full control over the license.

10. Crackdown (Xbox 360: Microsoft)

Just as LittleBigPlanet was a major exclusive for Sony, so too was Crackdown for Microsoft. Beginning in 2007, Crackdown was initially seen as a pricey ticket into the then highly anticipated Halo 3 multiplayer beta. But it also went beyond that by offering an addicting gameplay experience akin to being a superhero. The super-agent could scale the tallest of buildings, pick up the heaviest of objects and commandeer the most hi-tech vehicles in the open world of Pacific City. A sequel came out in 2010 from Ruffian Games but then the series seemingly vanished without a trace from then on.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Crackdown was a surprise hit in 2007 but this may have been down to the fact that it came with a key to the Halo 3 beta rather than the game itself. Because it didn’t have this incentive for purchase, Crackdown 2 was much less successful than the original in terms of sales. Phil Spencer has talked briefly about bringing the series back on Xbox One, but until that happens, the series remains in limbo.

11. The Darkness (Multiplatform: 2K)

Beginning as early as 2006, The Darkness (based on the comics) put players in the shoes of Jackie Estacado, a man with the power to summon and conjure demons at will. This provided a welcome twist to the usual first person shooter gameplay with differing abilities granted from the demons at Jackie’s disposal. The game also followed the comics well, portraying a dark and brooding atmosphere. A belated sequel came out six years later but the series has since stopped completely.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

With the fairly definitive ending which left Jackie trapped in an impossible situation, there seems to be little room or point for another game in ‘’The Darkness’’ series. Because the two games were released so far apart from each other, fans had mostly lost interest in ‘’The Darkness’’ by the time 2 came along and other games had taken control of the market. 2 was also much less successful critically, sporting flaws such as predictable enemy A.I and a short campaign for the asking price.

12. Destroy All Humans! (Multiplatform: THQ)

Beginning in 2005 on the PS2, Destroy All Humans was one of the first games that focused entirely on quite literally, destroying all humans in all sorts of wacky ways as alien invader Crypto with the backdrop of classic 1950s science fiction. After its original developer Pandemic went bust, the series made it onto PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii but eventually stopped after the release of Path of the Furon in 2009.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Path of the Furon may have been released on what was then next-generation hardware but it suffered from a poor critical reception, leading to the cancellation of the series. Not only that but both THQ and Pandemic have closed their doors, leaving it up to Nordic Games as to what to do with the franchise.

13. Medal of Honour (Multiplatform: EA)

Debuting in 2010, the modern day reboot of Medal of Honour was EA’s attempt to oust the annual Call of Duty juggernaut that continues to rake in millions to this day. The reboot series had two titles with the first taking place almost entirely in the Middle East and the other following the more straight-forward layout of a world-wide conflict. Like Call of Duty it also adopted a similar multiplayer style with fast-paced on foot combat developed by DICE.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Just like Dead Space, the Medal of Honour reboot is a franchise that landed in the ash can because in EA’s eyes, it was not successful enough to continue. After a lacklustre effort in 2012’s ‘’Warfighter’’ and a failure to best it’s biggest rival, both EA and DICE likely decided to use Battlefield as its premier shooter franchise, leaving Medal of Honour to fall back into obscurity once again.

14. Mafia (Multiplatform: 2K)

The Mafia series is best known for its story which manages to take the best of the classic crime drama films while also adding a detailed family drama of its own. With that said, the game’s third person shooting and open world environment don’t really make too much of an impression when compared to its contemporaries.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Because of its failure to stand alongside the best crime simulators, Mafia 3 is unlikely to make an appearance and given that 2K Czech hasn’t been heard from since 2011, it’s difficult to tell what the future holds for the series.

15. Lost Planet (Multiplatform: Capcom)

Lost Planet is a major example of a Capcom title which had outstanding production values but never quite reached its full potential from a gameplay standpoint. The series took place on an inhospitable frozen planet where thermal energy and vital suits were essential for survival. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition and Lost Planet 2 were the most ambitious and extravagant of the two with 2 boasting full four player coop while the third was much more scaled back and distant, having been passed over to Spark Unlimited.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Lost Planet tried three times to reach the golden standards met by the likes of other Capcom franchises but in all attempts, numerous flaws dragged the series down to the point where the company saw no point in taking the series any further. Extreme Condition suffered from an awful story and finicky controls, 2 couldn’t fix these issues despite going bigger in every way and 3 was far too shallow to make an impression and stepped too far from what made the series unique.

16. Epic Mickey (Multiplatform: Multiple developers led by Warren Spector)

In collaboration with Disney, the creator of System Shock and Deus Ex, Warren Spector produced a licensed game for the mega-company’s most recognised mascot. With such a big name behind the project, everyone expected the Epic Mickey series to be a huge hit, but in the end it only had two main titles to its name, both of which failed to capitalise on the developer’s previous successes.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

In modern gaming, Disney appears to be operating under a similar mind-set to EA in that any series that does not meet lofty critical and commercial aims should not be continued and that is precisely what has happened with Epic Mickey as Junction Point was shut down by the publisher due to poor sales and Warren Spector hasn’t been heard from since.

17. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii: Nintendo)

The Super Mario Galaxy series was without a doubt one of the finest efforts on the Nintendo Wii, once again proving that the Japanese Company does first party titles like no one else. The original re-invigorated the platforming genre with its gravity defying traversal while the sequel greatly expanded on it, adding more challenge and variation to become more than just a straightforward sequel.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

With every new Nintendo console released, the company finds a way to produce a new perspective or hook on its first party franchises to keep them from going stale after numerous games over many years. Despite the huge success enjoyed by the two Super Mario Galaxy titles, the series will remain on Wii so that Nintendo can do something new with the portly plumber when he eventually makes his full 3D debut on Nintendo’s system.

18. Prototype (Multiplatform: Activision)

Unlike its biggest rival InFamous, Prototype went for full-on carnage and all-out madness in every aspect of its gameplay. Playing as the biologically enhanced Alex Mercer (and James Heller in the sequel) there was no structure in being good or evil, it was all about wreaking as much havoc on the people and bio-terrorism units of New York City. But where InFamous made it onto PS4, Prototype came to a screeching halt in 2012 and hasn’t had another entry since then.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Prototype’s cancellation is purely down to the heavy lay-offs that hit developer Radical Entertainment in 2012. Activision said that the series failed to reach a strong commercial audience, which was likely because of the greater popularity enjoyed by the InFamous series. The sales of Prototype 2 were also disappointing compared to the original which meant the series will not see a third instalment anytime soon.

19. Crysis (Multiplatform: Crytek)

Crysis was once the pinnacle of technical prowess on PC and consoles; it pushed hardware to the limit but also had some stellar gameplay to back up its stellar technical presentation. Utilising the nanosuit’s strength, speed and invisibility powers led to a game which offered a great deal of player choice in how to tackle each combat situation. There were three main games, all of which were developed by Crytek.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

In a similar way to Dead Space, Crysis slowly grew less and less enjoyable as the series went on. The original Crysis was brilliant, setting high standards in open world combat and enemy AI. But from there things slowly went downhill. Crysis 2 became a linear affair, with some bugs in enemy behaviour and Crysis 3 didn’t get much better, despite boasting a fairly decent story. With the story now complete, Crytek has gone on to make Ryse and now the upcoming Homefront 2.

20. Raving Rabbids (Multiplatform: Ubisoft)

Beginning at the start of last generation, Rabbids was initially an experiment by Ubisoft to go beyond the Rayman character but eventually turned out to be one of their most successful franchises targeted towards children. The Raving Rabbids have become just as famous as the character they were spawned from, journeying across numerous platforms and putting out one game every year from 2006 to 2013.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

After eight games, Ubisoft has recently returned to Rayman with Origins and Legends and in doing so, has greatly satisfied fans of platformers in the process. Rabbids seems to be moving away from gaming in the future and will instead invade television with a fully-fledged cartoon series to be broadcasted in the coming years.

21. The Legend of Spyro (Multiplatform: Sierra Entertainment)

After three outstanding titles on the original PlayStation (and a few mediocre efforts when the series left Insomniac) Sierra Entertainment and Krome Studios picked up the character for a trilogy of games in which the titular dragon faces off against Cynder and her oppressive Dark Master. The series scraped onto PS3, Wii and Xbox 360 with Dawn of the Dragon. But the character would not see another title and was instead placed into the now widely popular Skylanders series.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

The Legend of Spyro clearly marked itself as a trilogy and the story was fully completed at the conclusion of ‘’Dawn of the Dragon’’ and now that Spyro has moved to Skylanders, the purple dragon may never see another fully-fledged single-player adventure. Perhaps his time as a mascot has long passed? Ever since Insomniac handed the character over to other developers, Spyro has had his ups and downs but from here on in, he may only be seen as a collectable toy and nothing more.

22. No More Heroes (Multiplatform: Grasshopper Manufacture)

As one of the few third party game to take full advantage of the Wii’s capabilities, No more Heroes told the story of Travis Touchdown as he carved his way through a ring of assassins in an over-the-top and cell-shaded style. In doing so the game also set itself apart from the usual family friendly Wii games at the time. There were two main games on Nintendo’s system before the series eventually made it to the PS3 with Sony’s PlayStation Move controller.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Along with Zack and Wiki, No More Heroes was one of the few third party titles to make a big impression on Nintendo’s system, but because there was so much shovel ware on the Wii, the series was inevitably buried under a mound of rubbish. Things continue to look grim for third party support on the Wii U and with motion controls thrown out the window; Travis Touchdown may have swung his last beam katana.

23. Tom Clancy’s HAWX (Multiplatform: Ubisoft)

Of all the game series based off Tom Clancy’s fiction, HAWX was the only title to dive into aerial combat with two games on the previous generation of consoles. To differ from the traditional gameplay of a cockpit view, HAWX allowed players to view the outside of the fighter jets to better track opponents and execute maneuverers more effectively. Both games offered single player modes of adequate length but they shined much brighter online where a highly unpredictable competition awaited budding pilots worldwide.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Where Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six have continued over the years, HAWX was only a temporary franchise made just for the PS3 and 360 generation. The series just doesn’t have the depth or replayability to endure across multiple generations, nor can its multiplayer be placed on the competitive scene the way its contemporaries can. Add to this the mixed reception and it’s easy to see why we haven’t seen a HAWX 3.

24. F.E.A.R (Multiplatform: Vivendi and WB Games)

F.E.A.R differed from most first person shooters at the time in that it mixed in a huge dose of horror along with a futuristic setting. The protagonists would take on regular human opponents but throughout the ordeal they would also be forced to deal with enemies of the supernatural kind. The series lasted from 2006 through to 2011 but didn’t quite manage to break into the current generation.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Though the F.E.A.R series could do with another coop based ride through the demon hordes, the series seems to have been put to rest for good with Day 1 Studios being acquired and rebranded by Wargaming.net, developer of World of Tanks.

25. Resistance (PS3: Insomniac Games)

Finally we come to Resistance, whose multiplayer servers have recently been shut down by Sony. The series had three main titles to its name along with Retribution on the PSP and prided itself on offering action packed shooting mixed with a dash of horror elements. The first game was certainly the best title of the PS3 launch line-up, the second upped the ante in every respect and the third was decent, but ended up leaving the series on a significantly lower note.

Why did it die off (or slow down)?

Resistance was Insomniac’s final series that was exclusive to Sony consoles and they are now working on Sunset Overdrive for the Xbox One. It’s quite a shame that the series had to end with such an anti-climactic ending and derivative multiplayer that ended up being so stripped back from R2. Sony may pass the series to another developer but as of 2012 with Resistance Burning Skies, there has been no confirmation of this or any other news on the future of the series.

Top 5 Mobile games to avoid at all costs

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Mobile gaming has reached the peak of its popularity in this modern digital age; everyday millions enjoy playing Angry Birds on the way to work or sharing with their friends in beating that one tricky level in Candy Crush. However mobile games have also become victim to several sly tactics and trends and the following five games are prime examples of this. Avoiding these games on you IPhone, IPad or PlayStation Vita will save your time and money in more ways than one.

5. Real Racing 3 (IOS)

What is considered one of the premier racing franchises on IOS devices has taken a hard left turn in Real Racing 3. Make no mistake; the game is still fairly enjoyable, the racing is good, the tracks are vast and varied and the game looks brilliant on an IPad but it’s all spoiled by EA’s awful micro-transactions. To carry on racing and reach the winners circle your best bet is to keep your car repaired at all times; but nine times out of ten you will receive damage of some sort and have to pay out a repair fee via credits or real world money. These in-game-credits are deliberately scarce, baiting players to fork out real money to progress faster. Avoid Real Racing 3 and avoid paying out for any of its micro-transactions and maybe when a fourth entry is released EA will have learned their lesson.

4. Ridge Racer (PlayStation Vita)

Ridge Racer for PlayStation Vita is the perfect example of how NOT to do a racing game on Vita; put in minimal effort into improving the racing itself and leave out all the features you’d expect from a title in the long-running series. And yet Namco had full downloadable content packages ready to go and claim a bit of extra cash after customers had already paid full price for the retail game. Even then the download packs were made up of mainly recycled content from 2007’s Ridge Racer 7; three years later and the game still ranks as not only one of the worst games on PlayStation Vita but also arguably the worst launch game of all time.

3. Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified (PlayStation Vita)

Call of Duty Black Ops Declassified seemed like the PlayStation Vita’s saving grace when it was first announced, considering how the Call of Duty brand has risen to become the biggest name in gaming entertainment. But upon release it fell down in just about area; the ten single-player missions could be completed in little more than an hour, the multiplayer was riddled with connection problems and glitch exploiters and the other modes were far too barebones to justify the price tag. But the drawbacks didn’t end there; the enemy artificial intelligence was awful, the controls were fiddly and unresponsive and the technical presentation failed to show off the Vita’s potential at rendering console level graphics. Above all else Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified was a squandered opportunity and a lazy effort across the board from Nihilistic Software.

2. Final Fantasy: All the Bravest (IOS)

Practically every Final Fantasy game in the series relies on deep story-telling and thrilling combat to appeal to series fans; that is, all except for this one. At first it seems like a cool idea with characters from throughout the series all battling together but when you reach under the surface, it’s clear that the game comes nowhere close to putting Final Fantasy on a mobile device. All the Bravest is as basic as it gets; scroll your finger across the touch-screen and win, that’s it. There’s no proper strategy, no story to keep to you invested but there are numerous micro-transactions for reviving characters and resetting cool-down timers. This game is a disgrace to the Final Fantasy name and should not be in any mobile owner’s collection.

1. Star Trek Trexels

Where Real Racing baits players to pay out real money, Star Trek Trexels makes swindling your wallet its prime objective at all times. It lures you in with its potential; being a cross between Galaxy Commander and Tiny Tower you are tasked with running the Starship Enterprise, exploring planets and carrying out various missions. But all of these are designed to extract every last bit of loose change from your pocket in some way shape or form. Multiple wait timers and paywalls plague the game from top to bottom, some which ask you to pay to advance to the next set of levels. The in-app purchases are outrageously overpriced, going from £3.99 for a pack of in-game-currency all the way up to £120 and as for the gameplay itself, all you’ll be doing is tapping on cubes that appear on screen. Avoid this game at all costs! Even if you’re a huge Star Trek fan this game will be remembered as one of the most shameful and downright greedy games ever to be released on a mobile device.

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Top 10 ''What were they thinking?!?!'' moments in gaming

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In the realm of video games, there’s often a moment or two that makes you scratch your head; whether it’s a developer making a not-so-brilliant decision or watching a game series or company hit rock-bottom, these moments beg the question ‘’what were they thinking?’’. The games in this list aren’t all necessarily bad but they all had me pondering this very question based on personal experience. Here are the top ten ‘’what were they thinking moments’’ mainly from the seventh generation of consoles from my perspective.

10. InFamous 2 being just plain lazy as a sequel

The original InFamous arrived in the second wave of the PS3’s exclusive line-up in 2009 and marked Sucker Punch’s (The team behind the Sly trilogy on PS2) debut on the platform. It was a huge hit, being a superhero game which offered something that no other game of its kind had done before; the choice to be a super-hero or super-villain. The story was highly engaging, and the combat was responsive and action packed. So what was Sucker Punch thinking with InFamous 2? The game was still fairly enjoyable and fun but just about everything had taken a step back from its superb predecessor. Cole wasn’t making his own choices anymore; he was just going along with whatever character he liked the most and on top of that, his choices in the original game had no weight whatsoever in the sequel. The design of the game was such a lazy effort; some of the main missions, yes, the MAIN STORY MISSIONS took about five minutes to complete while the side missions used the same scenarios over and over again. It’s as if Sucker Punch couldn’t be bothered to make some decent missions so they put in a level creator to have the community do it for them. InFamous 2 was a bad effort from Sucker Punch but hopefully with InFamous Second Son coming out for PS4, they can bring themselves back up to speed.

9. Bionic Commando’s disappointing 2009 outing

Bionic Commando looked awesome from the moment I saw the initial trailer and the series was looking to make a comeback with two new titles. I bought the first on PlayStation Network in 2008 (which was a fun and quirky 2D remake of the original game), beat it 100% and waited patiently for the 3D sequel the following year. So what was the game like? Bad, that’s how I describe it. Well, it wasn’t an awful game. It was fun to swing around and execute some attacks on enemies but it stumbled in so many areas including having a dull and clichéd plot, basic multiplayer and, awkward combat and gameplay that was far too linear. But the nail in the coffin was the horrible checkpoint system which made Bionic Commando one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever played; whether it was plunging into deep water with no hope of escape or jumping into an irradiated area you would get sent back to a far off checkpoint with all the enemies respawned and all the collectables back in place. In the end, I was glad that they cancelled the 3D sequels and went back to 2D; from my experience with the game, the character belongs in that genre and should stay there.

8. Call of Juarez: The Cartel being a huge step back from Bound in Blood

One of the few games I rented from the local Blockbuster (before they shut down for good) was Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood and it was a pleasant surprise, boasting a deep story and action packed Wild West gameplay. There were a few things the game desperately needed though, such as cooperative play and more multiplayer support which I hoped Techland would introduce in a sequel. A sequel did eventually come, and it was horrible; Call of Juarez: The Cartel was a fantastic flop, removing all that was good with its predecessor and replacing it with faults of all shapes and sizes. The biggest flaw though was leaving the Old West behind, which not only spoiled the potential for a good story but also made the game blend in with most of the other modern shooters. What was Techland thinking? They were doing so well with Bound in Blood and then they put out a game which was worse in every way. It’s as if they didn’t learn from what they did with Bound in Blood and instead wanted to appeal to what the masses were buying the most. While Techland did make a comeback with Call of Juarez: The Gunslinger, a game as good as Bound in Blood has yet to make an appearance; quite a shame seeing as BIB was arguably their best title to date.

7. Sony’s once maddeningly arrogant plans for PlayStation 3

The PlayStation may now be a brilliant system with some of the best exclusives around but back in 2006 and 2007 it was a laughing stock with hardly any exclusive games to its name. No one wanted to embrace the system’s Blu-Ray capabilities, the online service paled in comparison to Xbox Live and worst of all; the PS3 was outrageously overpriced causing many gamers, even long term fans of Sony to abandon the system from the get-go. It was a rough start for Sony which begs the question ‘’what were they thinking?’’ Of course at the time Sony was on top of the gaming world with the PlayStation 2 being the best-selling system so perhaps they thought they could get away with anything, given how high their profits were. Thankfully in 2008 the PS3 bounced back and earned its place amongst its competitors and Sony have now learned from their mistakes and have worked to make the new PS4 a success from the beginning.

Does this look like survival horror to you?

6. Resident Evil’s descent into action-focused stupidity

Resident Evil is an enduring series but there was something off about its latest offering, Resident Evil 6; it’s just not scary, in fact there’s nothing in the game that comes close to resembling the survival horror the series was famous for. Capcom struck gold with Resident Evil 4 in 2005; the game really did revolutionise the survival horror genre and indeed gaming in general with its innovative over-the-shoulder viewpoint and deadly foes to face. Resident Evil 5 wasn’t as ground-breaking but it was still undeniably fun, especially with a coop partner. But with Resident Evil 6 the series degenerated into Michael Bay territory without a hint of what made the series so memorable to begin with. What was Capcom thinking? Were they thinking that everyone would get bored with a slower paced survival horror design? The answer most likely lies in how RE6 attempted to satisfy everyone by going full-on action but unfortunately it only served to dig the series a deeper grave. Resident Evil may return but judging from the latest main entry in the series and the spin-off Operation Racoon City it’s difficult to see this franchise going back to what made it great.

5. Microsoft’s attempt to control the gaming masses

Gaming history seems to have repeated itself in 2013; just as Sony’s PS3 was a much disliked system at first, nowadays it is Microsoft who is on the receiving end of a great of hatred and joking. The reveal for Xbox One was quite simply a disaster; first they focused too much on television over gaming, then they fell on their faces again at E3 with a high price tag of $500. But it was the DRM policies and required Kinect sensor that really sent gamers into a frenzy; a feature that was made worse by Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s spying programme. Many lost faith is Microsoft completely, believing them to be out for controlling the consumer and snapping up their money whenever possible and while Microsoft did reverse the controversial policies and take out the Kinect requirement this has undoubtedly kept the Xbox One from keeping the same pace as PlayStation 4 in the worldwide market since its launch last year. What was Microsoft thinking? Even now their focus is muddled, pushing gaming off to the side in favour of being an all in one system and some are still wary and refuse to trust them. Maybe the Xbox One will rise up again just like the PS3 did but right now that time seems a little ways off.

4. Crytek’s downward spiral from the original Crysis through to Ryse

Crytek was once a household name in the industry in the way in which they made technically stunning pieces of work that also boasted some decent gameplay. But an interesting thing seems to have happened to them in the years following the original Crysis in 2007; while the graphics and production values of their products have remained top notch, the gameplay has slowly gone downhill. Crysis 2 was solid but some thought it was too linear for its own good, Crysis 3 didn’t improve things very much and with the release of Ryse with the launch of the Xbox One the company Crytek has now fallen into the trap of graphics over gameplay. Ryse certainly looked the part but its graphics didn’t mean much when the gameplay was just endless monotonous ‘’press this button to execute’’ based combat. What was Crytek thinking? They had the chance to do for the Xbox One what Bungie did for the original Xbox with the original Halo but then they took the easy route and put out a lacklustre title that doesn’t do justice to their pedigree. It’s hard to say where Crytek will go next but Ryse will still stand as their first dud in all their years in the industry.

3. The obnoxious ‘’Jarhead’’ soldiers in Haze

Haze should have been the PS3’s killer app back in early 2008 but it was a miserable failure, sporting underwhelming gameplay and mediocre graphics; a huge shame considering how it was developed by some of the minds behind Goldeneye on the N64. But the biggest sin committed by Free Radical was the ridiculous, distasteful and utterly unlikeable Mantel Soldiers who single-handedly ruined what would have been an interesting concept for a story. These horrid characters bantered back and forth with terrible fist-pumping dialogue that made it impossible to care about either side of the conflict portrayed in the game, splashing more mud on an already lacklustre product. What was Free Radical thinking? Were they aiming to make players hate the troopers so much that they want to go against them with the Rebel side? That may be so, but it’s still inexcusable that Free Radical thought that this sort of character design would bode well for the fans.

What happened to this awesome coop mode?

2. Stripping back the multiplayer for Resistance 3

To see this happen was probably one of the most frustrating moments I’ve experienced in gaming. Resistance 2 was an incredible title that went bigger and better than the original in every way, boasting a lag-free online multiplayer mode for up to 60 players and best of all, a unique and chaotic coop for 8 players, something that had never been done before on a console. And what happened then? The 8 player coop was dropped in favour of a two player campaign coop from the original Resistance and the multiplayer fell from manic 60 player matches to 16 player run and gun fests trying to be like Call of Duty. What was Insomniac Games thinking? They once did what few dared to do on a console game and then they ditched it because they were afraid that Resistance 3 wouldn’t be able stand up on its own unless it blended in with what was popular at the time. Insomniac is still a great developer; still putting out Ratchet and Clank games and now the upcoming Sunset Overdrive for Xbox One but that one decision will always irk me as one of several reasons why Resistance 3 was a huge disappointment.

1. EA (JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING THEY’VE BEEN DOING UP TO NOW!)

With the dubious honour of ‘’Worst Company in America’’ two times in a row, and hordes of angry gamers berating them endlessly, Electronic Arts name has been tarnished in recent years. But it wasn’t always like this; back in the days of PlayStation 2, Xbox and Gamecube and even the early years of PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii EA was acting like a proper gaming company that cared for its fans and put out it’s titles purely for the enjoyment factor. But that focus has been thrown out the window in favour of horrendous scheming. The publisher has done some truly remarkable things recently that have led to become easily the most hated company in the gaming industry; whether it was ruining Mass Effect 3’s ending, butchering Dead Space 3 into an action game, forcing micro transactions down our throats or releasing games in poor conditions. What was EA thinking? When did these practices designed to grab as much money as possible while putting in a reduced amount of effort? These days it always seems to be about money above all other things and if EA doesn’t change its ways soon, it could be facing be facing heavy reductions in profits in a year or two. The burning question is why should we pay a company that doesn’t care about its customers? If that’s what it takes for EA to realise what an awful decision they’ve made then perhaps that’s the best way to proceed.

Five reasons to avoid fanboyism in gaming

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Fanboy proclaiming his loyalty to a console

A new console generation is about to truly begin which means thousands of gamers worldwide will again pick sides. With the Wii U continuing to sit in the background the biggest sides appear to be PS4 and Xbox One. The battle between Microsoft and Sony in particular (and the legions of so called Xbots and Sony Ponies) has been an ugly one at times; arguably ever since Xbox 360 and PS3 there have been loyalists ready to defend their system and its respective company to the end. However some of these have taken this to the extreme, trashing every related article and disliking every related YouTube video. I am of course talking about gaming fanboys; aspects of the gaming community who seem to have multiplied dramatically with the advent of the eighth generation of gaming consoles. Its been going on for many years and to me it shouldnt be such a big part of the games industry these days. Heres why

 A man yelling at a computer screen

1. It can fuel aggression and ultimately can make people very bad-tempered and unlikeable: What separates the fanboy from the unbiased opinion is the violent manner in which they defend their brand; their comments are often made up of a lot of capitalised speech, exclamation marks and sometimes spelling errors. This is especially dangerous for adults as there is often no one around, nor a system in place to prevent them from posting such comments to a website. Sometimes behaviour online can grow so bad it can transfer into the real world where the person will likely get quite the rude awakening from family, friends and work alike. As long as the angry comments continue unchallenged then the person posting them may well be lead to believe that this kind of behaviour wont be punished whether on the internet or not.

 Comic Book Speech bubble showing cursing symbols

2. It is often foul-mouthed and rude trolling rather than actual justification: Fanboys turn a blind eye to the positives of the system they dont own and when they know they cant deliver a reasonable argument (which is very often) they instead turn to overwhelming their opponents with gratuitous swearing in an effort to win the argument. In reality however theyre only digging themselves a deeper hole for this method only serves to highlight a fanboys inability to offer a constructive argument to their fellow gamer.

Man transfixed on computer screen 

3. The facts are often unknown or completely overlooked: Im not sure what causes this but it seems that whenever someones eyes are fixed on an internet page, they sometimes become fixated on a particular comment rather than what that person was commenting on. Fanboys are no strangers to this and their first instinct is not to read through the article above to counter someones argument effectively; instead they click on the reply button straight away and jump into trashing the person who insulted the system they are loyal to, without any regard for their opinion or whether what they are saying may well be true. This only makes their violent arguing redundant and lacking in substance.

Tom McShea's review of Skyward Sword 

4. It disrespects and insults the opinions of others: Fanboyism in gaming is often not limited to which system is the best but it often spreads to other outlets, especially reviews. Everyone on Gamespot probably knows about the amount of hatred staff member Tom McShea got and is still receiving for his reviews on The Last of Us, Fable: The Journey, and Zelda: Skyward Sword. A lot of people did strongly disagree with his judgement on these games but was it really worth yelling at him through the comments section, insulting him as a person and labelling him as wrong and unintelligent? Apparently a large amount of fanboys thought so and the obscene comments only continue to pour in, demanding that one persons opinion be the same as theirs and some other websites. Multiple opinions are a GOOD thing, if everyone thought the same on a particular product then there wouldnt be any point to reviews in the first. Opinions serve as a guide but it is up to the consumer to make their own judgement. If the fanboys remembered this then there would probably be a lot less bashing of review scores on the internet.

 A stereotyped gamer from South Park

5. It hurts the image of gamers as a whole: The press and coverage of the gaming industry has always focused on the negative aspects, blaming and stereotyping it for criminal acts, laziness and unproductivity in the world because of a minority of misguided individuals who set a bad example. Fanboys are no different, leading the media to spread the word that all gamers are juvenile, inconsiderate and foul-mouthed. Fanboyist comments and attitudes only distract from the more civil conversations on the web that could be better highlighted were it not for a small minority that wrong the overall gaming community.

People may argue that diversity is important, which it is but when it comes down to it, fanboyism takes this to substantial levels of bitterness and rage. If everyone acted with an unbiased viewpoint the contests between systems and perhaps browsing through most gaming websites would be far more civil and pleasant. Almost anyone who owns one gaming system and not the other is guilty of fanboyist comments at some point or another; the ultimate solution is to think before typing and considering the positives (and negatives) of both the systems you own and the systems you dont. Indeed this could be applied to any brand war but it seems that gaming has become the most intensive today and in my opinion needs to stop.

Xbox One Policy Reversal: Power to the consumer or devious marketing tactics?

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Xbox One DRM Reversal

Recently Microsoft made a number of changes to their Xbox One software; as of June 19th the system is no longer always online, now allows the selling of used games and all Xbox One games will be region free. This move according to Microsoft Entertainment President Don Mattrick came as a result of player feedback; indeed very rarely has a change this substantial been brought about solely by consumers alone and it proves that we have the power to shape the product we are interested in buying. This can be applied not only to the gaming industry but possibly for any product put up for sale. Imagine if enough people complained or gave negative feedback to an article of clothing or a food product; the company would take the item back and modify it for consumer satisfaction. Not everyone would be satisfied but a strong majority would be; proving that consumer satisfaction is and should be held in top regard it order for profits to be made. Up to this point I thought that Microsoft had a primary focus on making as much money as possible be it by charging for online play or its initial restrictions for Xbox One; perhaps the community taught them a lesson in this respect by showing that we as fans and consumers matter.

Kinect 2 privacy issues 

But is it really all fine and dandy for Microsofts new system now? Does this mean that the console automatically has a chance against its competitors? Were they paying attention to the fans or the falling pre-order numbers? Questionable design points about the system continue to surround Microsoft, especially where the required Kinect 2.0 is concerned. The peripheral which will come bundled with every Xbox One console will, according to the Rolling Stone magazine is "always on." It's able to identify individuals based on face and body recognition, works in the dark, records audio and is constantly connected to the Internet and 300,000 Microsoft servers. This combined with the unearthed news of the NSA collecting US phone and email records could imply an invasion of privacy on a gargantuan scale (although this may not spread to other countries worldwide). This may not be the case at all; Microsoft have stated that the Kinect has to be connected to the system but in turn, users will have complete control over what the device can sense.

Furthermore digital rights management is usually software built into a piece of technology and Microsoft initially built the system with this in mind. If it was this simple to reverse the controversial policies the system possessed then could this mean that the software will still lurk about on the system? Once the console sells enough units over several years, whats to stop the company from flipping the DRM switch, explaining that consumers are now ready for always online? This may be proved otherwise in the coming years but it can also be argued that the policies were dropped to better compete with its main competitor, PlayStation 4. At E3 this year Sony hammered down hard on Microsofts policies and as a result pre order numbers for their system increased significantly. In a desperate attempt to rise to the same level as Sony, Microsoft dropped the policies to make their system more attractive and while this has shifted some opinions about the Xbox One, others still need a great deal of convincing to believe in the companys vision.

Of course these concerns have only been suggested rather than confirmed; Microsofts vague PR teams and methods of giving information have baffled many a consumer and gaming journalist. If the company were to fully debunk all the concerns of the Xbox One then consumers would likely have much more trust and may be more inclined to buy the product upon its launch at the end of this year.

E3 2013 Press Conference Round-Up and Trends: EA and Ubisoft

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EA

Notable Games

 Mirror's Edge 3 E3 2013

Mirrors Edge

After five years of obscurity Faith finally makes her return to first person platforming with the debut trailer for a new Mirrors Edge game on next gen consoles and PC; it is unclear at this point as to when the story takes place but it has been confirmed that it will be an open world game; combined with the Frostbite 3 destruction engine this holds potential in that multiple routes through each part of the map can be used. Perhaps DICE may even include multiplayer pitting runners against police forces. The developer will likely reveal more information in the coming months.

Star Wars Battlefront 

Star Wars Battlefront

When the new Star Wars Battlefront was teased at EAs conference, many gamers, including myself were very excited; it had been eight years since Battlefront 2, one of the best Star Wars games graced the sixth generation of consoles. After such a long wait it seemed Battlefront 3 would never be released but now EA is bringing it back; its a shame then that all we were given was a teaser trailer, a logo and little more, after which they proceeded to talk about the less desired Need for Speed Rivals. Like Mirrors Edge, more will be shed sooner or later.

BF4 Siege of Shanghai

Battlefield 4

The Siege of Shanghai multiplayer demo at EAs conference was easily the greatest aspect with Battlefield 4 adding many new features to an already brilliant online mode. Commander mode returned to offer artillery strikes for players on the ground, squads and commands were expanded but nothing could top the falling skyscraper at the demos conclusion, putting across the power of the Frostbite 3 engine. Above all else EA managed to build excitement for Battlefield 4 even though as a major instalment it was only being released 2 or 3 years after its predecessor as a pose to the six year gap between Battlefield 2 and 3, a good achievement.

Strong Moments

·         Several reveals that we all wanted to see: EA certainly delivered a strong excitement factor this year by responding to the fans and delivering with the games they wanted; Mirrors Edge 2 and Star Wars Battlefront are both small tentative steps towards restoring their reputation with the gaming community again. (Even if they still have a long way to go!)

·         Light-hearted bits with PVZ creator John Vechey: With all the serious business going on in gaming at the moment, theres still time for some lighthearted fun and it came through this year with John Vecheys announcement of Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare and Peggle 2. Vechey showed that enthusiasm still exists in developers.

Low Points

·         Far too many sports games: Four sports games were shown off at EAs conference, which was expected but the problem was that they spent far too long bigging up the new technology, showing off footage of the new engines in action and getting celebrity talent to show off the games. It may have been interesting for fans of sports games but not for the rest of us who are accustomed to other genres in gaming.

·         Unoriginal spinoffs: EA is out for more money on its most popular franchises and that was all too evident when Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare was announced; it was essentially Mass Effect 3s horde mode multiplayer but with plants being used as classes. A third person viewpoint, usable powers in the bottom right corner and coop play. PVZ is a successful series but when it starts blending with other popular franchises, thats when it will lose its own identity as a tower defence game.

·         Need for Speed Rivals: Perhaps the most disappointing part of EAs conference, the latest NFS looked no different from Criterions Hot Pursuit and despite this EA pushed the game more than they should have, when everyone just wanted to see Star Wars Battlefront footage.

The Verdict: EAs conference was mixed overall; both exciting for new reveals and boring for rambling on about bits few people cared about

Ubisoft

Notable Games

 The Crew E3 2013

The Crew

Where The Crew makes its mark on the racing genre is through customisation and social interaction; every part of a vehicle can be customised to suit the situation at hand and where the social side is concerned players can join forces to tackle missions or even form crews to compete against each other. At the moment Ubisofts racing title is looking like 2008s Burnout Paradise, but with enhanced social aspects. In the coming months though, the game may do much to set itself apart from its contemporaries.

 The Division E3 2013

The Division

Perhaps the first game in the Tom Clancy series to journey outside of the typical espionage fare, The Division revolves around the aftermath of a worldwide pandemic and like The Crew also uses social features to dynamically pit rival teams against each other. At the moment the third person gunplay seems fairly standard, combining cover mechanics and abilities together but the social aspects could go a long way to enhance the environment in which the game takes place.

Strong Moments

·         Interactive elements: One thing that Ubisoft did at their conference that the other three didnt was allow for consumer input, tweeting using different hash tags during the show allowed people to ask questions about specific games; although this wasnt taken very far, it could be integrated into later events to allow more communication between developers and their fans.

·         Variety of games: Ubisoft had games for everyone at their conference, whether it was Rabbids invasion for children, Just Dance 4 for the casual market or The Division for the hardcore crowd, the press conference was made more accessible to a full range of audiences as a result.

·         Great looking trailers: While there were too many trailers at Ubisofts conference, each company made a real effort to make them brilliant looking and eye catching. The CG trailers for Assassins Creed 4 and Watch Dogs were both dazzling in equal measure, matched by the whimsical and charming colours of Rayman Legends.

Low Points

·         A few too many trailers: What was mainly down to Sonys decisions rather than conference management, the Ubisoft conference was lacking in terms of actual gameplay. Trailers can build excitement of course but gameplay is what gets people talking a lot more and entices them to buy the game come release day

·         Rabbids game and TV show: Regretfully Ubisoft is buying into Microsofts focus into integrating different forms of entertainment rather than focusing on polishing off the games as much as possible. Trying to integrate entertainment mediums can be seen by some as a waste of resources that could have been spent on making sure the game is as good as it can be.

·         No sign of obscure titles: With the lack of gameplay from their well-known titles, Ubisoft had a strong opportunity to bring back games that had fallen into obscurity and debut gameplay for each; sadly there was no sign of Rainbow Six Patriots or indeed any other game that had gone off peoples radars which would have helped Ubisoft climb a little higher on the conference front this year.

The Verdict: Ubisoft had arguably the biggest variety of software up for display but its unfortunate that most of that display consisted of trailers rather than gameplay.

E3 2013 Press Conference Round-Up and Trends

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After 8 hours of press conferences, its once again time to evaluate each of the big four at E3; this year however Im adding an analysis of trends of the biggest show in gaming. All four companies did have their own strengths and weaknesses as usual but when stacked against each other it seems pretty unanimous with the majority of the gaming community that Sony took the crown by a mile this year. The general objective at E3 this year was to make the next gen consoles as exciting and attractive as possible and the companies met this to differing degrees.

Microsoft

Notable Games

Quantum Break E3 2013 Trailer 

Quantum Break

The preconceptions I had before about Quantum Break being too similar to Sonys Beyond Two Souls were slightly alleviated with the trailer at Microsofts E3 conference this year; in fact it seems to borrow more off Inception with its manipulation of time and space. The game has a fair amount of potential for puzzle gameplay and given the developers previous experience with the Alan Wake franchise, elements of mystery and suspense could be woven into the narrative to create a much needed imaginative and intriguing story that has been missing in Xbox games in the past.

 

Titanfall E3 2013

Titanfall

Titanfall was arguably the best Xbox One game shown off at the conference, marking the debut of Respawn Entertainment who has risen from the troubles with Infinity Ward to make a multiplayer only game that looks highly dynamic and action packed. Mechs and infantry units battle on the ground, receiving orders on the fly from mission control whilst enormous battle cruisers fly overhead. Many gameplay options are blended together in Titanfall including mech combat similar to Hawken, parkour style traversal of the environments like 2011s Brink and the infantry combat of Call of Duty. On top of this theres sure to be a huge suite of customisation options of both the mech and soldier varieties. All things considered Titanfall could be Xbox Ones first hit, but theres one problem; itll be out on Xbox 360 and PC as well. With all the negative aspects of Xbox One, buyers may well go with the PC version instead, leaving the Xbox One version a wasted opportunity.

Halo E3 2013

Halo

We dont know if its Halo 5, we dont know why Master Chief is clad in a simple brown cloak but what we do know for sure is the inevitable; Microsofts most popular franchise will be coming to Xbox One sooner or later, along with a TV series and mobile game Spartan Assault. The trailer was meant to tease of course but with all the other less exciting demos at Microsofts conference, it would have been wise to debut Halo 5 (which probably would have caused much more excitement and applause than the other games). Well probably have to wait till next year to get a proper look at the new Halo. 

MGS5 E3 2013 

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

Of course Microsoft had to have gaming celebrities on stage and this year was no different as Hideo Kojima once again took to the stage to show MGS5 for the Xbox One. A gameplay trailer saw Big Boss infiltrating Afghanistan on horseback to rescue McDonnell Miller. The desert environment was quite reminiscent of Red Dead Redemption but there were also new gameplay features including better climbing mechanics, commandeering vehicles and hiding on the side of a horse to sneak past guards. New characters were also revealed including antagonist Skull Face. Metal Gear Solid 5 is another great looking game for Xbox One but unfortunately it suffers from the same fate as Titanfall; it will be released on PlayStation 4 and PS3 also.

Dead Rising 3 E3 2013

Dead Rising 3

The only proper Xbox One exclusive that had a gameplay demo, Dead Rising 3 had me asking several questions; what happened to all the colour and charm? Why is the protagonist avoiding the zombies rather than charging straight through them like in previous games? Why were the zombies being taken out more by explosions than created weapons? The grim truth was revealed as Capcom explained it was targeting the gamers who play Call of Duty games, and what better place to do it than Xbox One where most Call of Duty players go and nowhere else? A rather disappointing debut across the board and now it seems that another franchise has been butchered into what sells best rather than what the fans want most.

Strong Moments

·         No Kinect games or demonstrations: A breath of fresh air at this years E3 was to see a Microsoft press conference without any sort of awful, poorly acted Kinect demonstrations; Kinect will be a part of the Xbox One but by not showing any Kinect games at all, they put across that the so called 15 new exclusives would not all be lacklustre motion sensing titles that few long term fans want. It placed Microsoft in the right place to deliver on actual games (even though they didnt do very well at this in the end!)

·         The return of Killer Instinct: After several years of being reduced to making Kinect games by Microsoft, Killer Instinct is returning exclusively on Xbox One and in doing so Rare is going back to what it should be doing and what it was originally known for through the nineties. Its refreshing to see that Microsoft isnt controlling its owned companies and is listening to what the fans have wanted for many years

·         Benefits to XBL members: Another welcome change came when Microsoft mentioned the free games program for Xbox Live; taking a cue from PlayStation Plus, beginning with Assassins Creed 2 and Halo 3, games will be made available digitally for free. Its good to see Microsoft actually giving something back for once, although its one small hurrah in a sea of controversial decisions at the moment

Low Points

·         Little support for indie games: At a complete opposite to Sony, Phil Harrison stepped up during the conference to talk about Xbox Ones support for indie games; except there was no support at all. Case and point; with Minecraft Xbox One Edition, they practically cried buy this game again!, proving that Microsoft will only go after indie games that make millions without any regard for innovation or unique experiences in the indie sector of gaming.

·         Lacklustre demos: Microsoft needed to deliver on its 15 new franchises at E3 and it did show off most of them to the world; unfortunately most of these showings were pretty basic and genuinely unimpressive. Ryse ditched the Kinect support in favour of endless QTEs to instantly kill enemies, Project Spark was made redundant by the fact that it is doing what Little Big Planet has done already, only in 3D, and Sunset Overdrive and D4 only showed initial trailers. Microsofts focus into games was apparent but it just wasnt put across very well throughout the conference.

·         No quelling or debunking of various concerns regarding Xbox One: Applause and cheers were rather muted through most of Microsofts conference, mostly down to the fact that people already knew about all the negative aspects of the system. Microsoft did little to address these issues, instead resorting to vague and contrived lip service to wade off the still-burning fires. Even Phil Spencer announcing the price point and release date of the console looked positively awkward to hear no applause from the audience. If Microsoft had been clearer, both journalists and consumers would get a better idea of what the system was about.

The Verdict: Microsoft had a lot to prove at E3 this year and whilst the focus was definitely in the right place, the overall result was quite lacking; few games drew intense applause from the audience aside from the new Halo and Titanfall. The Xbox One remains at a significant disadvantage and Microsoft may be getting desperate as they have been sticking advertising everywhere in an attempt to boost interest; Gamesmaster, a UK magazine that I regularly read was seen to discover this form of advertising in their hotel room yesterday, not knowing how it got there (This image was taken by Gamesmaster and can be found on their Facebook page, check it out here https://www.facebook.com/officialgamesmaster?fref=ts).

 

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It seems a little late to rectify their mistakes with the Xbox One now but perhaps Microsoft may just cling on if it keeps rolling out the games, innovative ones at that.

Sony

Notable Games

Final Fantasy 15 E3 2013 

Final Fantasy 15

Another long awaited title Final Fantasy Verses 13 was changed to Final Fantasy 15 at Sonys conference and will come to both PS4 and Xbox One. As always the computer generated trailer was gorgeous to look at and the story itself is said to go into more realistic and emotional depth this time around. Hopefully the fans wont have to wait much longer for the next major instalment in the long running series.

 Kingdom Hearts 3 E3 2013

Kingdom Hearts 3

For many a fan of the Kingdom Hearts series the wait for number 3 has been a long one, and now the third entry in the popular series is finally coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Indeed the debut trailer proved to be a massive leap forward technically although little else is known about the game currently.

 

Watch Dogs E3 2013 Demo 

Watch Dogs

A demo of Watch Dogs conspicuously absent from the Ubisoft conference made its way into the Sony presser instead delivering gameplay of both single and multiplayer. The hacking mechanic saw Aiden Pearce guide an informant to safety before escaping from the police by killing the lights and stealing a boat aided by another player in the vicinity of the main protagonist. As with Assassins Creed 4 and Destiny Watch Dogs is primed to be the best on PlayStation 4, adding to Sonys list of exclusive deals.

 AC4 E3 2013 Demo

Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag

In another demo absent from the Ubisoft press conference Black Flag was instead shown at the Sony conference beginning with an explosive attack on land and ending with a battle at sea between Edward and numerous privateer ships. Despite not functioning perfectly the live demo put across the combination of land and sea combat quite well and with exclusive content secured, the PS4 version of Assassins Creed 4 looks to be the best version.

Destiny E3 2013 Demo 

Destiny

Towards the end of their conference Sony showed the first gameplay of Destiny, Bungies foray into multiplatform development and it proved to be both heavily social and dynamic. Players all inhabit one massive world and can join forces to take part in events, and share loot to customise their character. What sets Destiny apart from other shooters thus far is its amazing environments. The vistas and landscapes are simply vast, sights to see and behold, a memorable environment holds potential for exploration and with social integration other players will always be with you to journey loot and shoot with. Destiny may be out on the Xbox One as well but its clear from the press conference that Bungies sights are set on Sony at this point.

Strong Moments

·         Huge support for indie developers: At their conference this year Sony showed that they were king of indie supporters on consoles; over seven games were announced for Sonys system including Dont Starve, Transistor and Mercenary Kings. Sonys welcoming of indie developers reaffirms the PlayStation 4s focus as a gaming console which in turn will attract even more developers to the system in the future.

·         Blunt and simple facts: Sony did brilliantly in pushing its focus towards doing the exact opposite of its main competitor and towards the end of the conference they gave us the hard facts clearly and efficiently. There was no faffing around, no rephrasing of information and no lip service. By doing this Sony proved much more honest, and thus earned the trust of potential buyers everywhere.

·         Migrating PC games: In addition to all the indie games coming to PlayStation 4, Sony also had many announcements of PC games coming to the system, after all it is technically a super powered PC itself. These included Planetside 2, Warframe, Primal Carnage and even The Elder Scrolls Online. All of these games will allow the PS4 to compete with PCs and serves another outlet for developers to port their games over at later dates.

 

Low Points

·         A slow start: Sony has become known for drawn out conversations and it continued this year as Jack Tretton again talked about sales figures and how big the PlayStation brand has become. They should have kept this brief and gotten straight to what the press and public wanted to see, games which they eventually did

·         Flashing through games we already know about: A minor gripe with the conference came with Sonys insistence on focusing on PS4 games we saw at the reveal event and even The Last of Us at one point; it ate into time that could have been used to show off more PlayStation 4 games. Perhaps in a year or two Sony wont need to mention any more PS3 bits, allowing for a full focus on the new generation.

·         Paying for PS4 multiplayer: Its one small but ultimately immensely frustrating issue; Sony is putting faith in the fact that all the good things PS4 does will be enough for consumers to overlook a required subscription to PlayStation Plus. The game sharing trailer released by Sony reveals in the small print that Sonys once optional subscription plan has become a requirement for going online for the new system. Already people are not happy about this which may affect Sonys sales in the long run; surprisingly it hasnt been officially confirmed by Sony or many major publications yet but if the small print was in an official trailer then its probably true.

The Verdict: It was slow to begin with but Sony eventually proved that it held the monopoly on indie games, exclusives and a solid console; towards the end they practically spat in Microsofts face and put across bluntly and simply that they would not fall into the same greedy strategies as their biggest competitor. The PS4 could now be truly in the lead and looks set to sell brilliantly come launch this year and the addition of exclusives like Final Fantasy 15 and Kingdom Hearts 3 puts it over the top of all other companies at E3 this year.

Trends of the show

By far the biggest trend of this years E3 was the inclusion of mobile device support; Microsoft, EA and Ubisoft all showed off additional features that could be accessed using devices such as tablets and smartphones in games like Battlefield 4, The Crew and Dead Rising 3; at first I thought Oh this is just some gimmick to make us buy mobile devices but now looking back its clear why theyre pushing this feature. Mobile gaming has been touted as the biggest threat to console gaming for several years and the companies are now doing everything they can to blend the two together. Only time will tell whether gamers will pick up on these new gameplay features.

Overall E3 2013 saw mostly competent showings from Microsoft, Ubisoft and EA with Sony leading the charge for next gen; by next year hopefully the issue of generation overlap will stop and the companies will be able to focus on the eighth generation of gaming.

Xbox Reveal Event: My thoughts

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xbox-2013-invite.jpg

So the new Xbox was finally revealed; what were my impressions? Personally Im on the fence; there were a fair amount of announcements, some of which I expected, some that were unknown. Overall the conference was a mixed bag and was rather short when compared with its competitors; of course E3 is just around the corner and Microsoft will likely fill their conference to burst with announcements, hoping to soar above Sony in terms of building anticipation for their system. In short here are my personal thoughts on the high points, the concerns and bits Im unsure about.

The High Points 

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·         Showing the system

I take back what I said about Sony not showing the PS4 hardware being beneficial; Microsoft did better in this regard in that they had the technical specs but they also had an actual piece of hardware to back up what they were saying. This is sure to raise faith in the system from the offset and proves that Microsoft has a proper prototype in place and ready rather than making it seem that they may still be working on the console. The technical specs are also no slouch either, falling into the same range as the PS4; though the 802.11n wireless functionality paired with Xbox Live could give Microsoft the edge in terms of online play. Showing the console straight away also proves that the system is ready for E3, meaning that the press will be able to test the system and gage their reactions more quickly. 

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·         Improved features and accessories

Microsoft is making subtle but worthwhile improvements to the system as a whole with the user interface receiving an upgrade. But the main focus was the new Kinect which (despite my insistence that Microsoft abandon the device completely) looks set to make improvements in leaps and bounds on the inaccuracies of the original, proving that it may still have a place in our console gaming lives. With these improvements in place, Microsoft is sure to build on top of them at E3, setting the Xbox One as a large update over its predecessor.

·         A professional press conference with no embarrassments

After some truly embarrassing press conferences riddled with child actors and Kinect demonstrations Microsoft presented the event with no sort of hiccups or humiliation whatsoever. This allowed me personally to take them a lot more seriously this time around and for the hard-core crowd it may boost anticipation to know that Microsoft is not entirely focused on transforming its system into a family focused console right away.

The Concerns

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·         Too much focus on sports in general

Indeed American audiences love their sports, be it watching them or playing them; Microsoft will certainly satisfy this market but unfortunately their focus seemed far too biased towards this aspect of the system. This is what I was thinking through a sizeable portion of the conference while watching the live stream

Microsoft: Ok so we have a partnership with EA to release bigger and better sports games for the Xbox One

Me: Ok youve switched companies now lets see some of the new games

Microsoft: Were also partnering with NFL to bring you the best sporting experiences only on Xbox One

Me: Uh Im not really a huge fan of watching or playing sports games like many people in America are Can we see the games now please?

Microsoft is looking to satisfy its fan base stronghold in the US which they will undoubtedly succeed at doing, but for the rest of us in countries like the UK, Europe, Japan (if they plan to release there!) and Australia they will end up alienating us as consumers if they focus heavily on this sort of thing. If Microsoft is continuing to focus on making the Xbox the number one living room machine then they need to make sure that they have plenty of applications and features to satisfy a worldwide audience, not just their home turf.

·         Recycling of franchises and not enough talk of new ones

As mentioned in my previous blog Microsoft needs new innovative franchises to win people including myself over but unfortunately they didnt talk about these enough to raise my anticipation. They said about Eight New Franchises but where are they? We only saw Quantum Break and that game did seem slightly similar to what Sony has pushed with Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls. Im all for new franchises on Xbox One of course but wheres the innovation in the gameplay? I couldnt see any of it and rather than focus on these new franchises we had Forza 5 being shown instead; at that point I was wondering if Gears of War and Halo were about to make appearances too, slightly damaging my hopes for the system. If Microsoft had focused on new experiences that could not be found anywhere else then people, even those not so fond of Microsoft may have stopped and taken note at the event.

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·         Call of Duty: Ghosts

Another year, another Call of Duty as many have come to say about the series. Infinity Ward developers claim that they are innovating like never before for the series but to me it seemed like Ghosts was bringing the almighty FPS series up to speed with its competitors. We were shown better technical presentation and further animations (To keep up with Battlefield and Crysis), dynamic multiplayer maps (To up the ante on what shooters like Crysis 3 have done with their maps) and character customisation (Has just been expanded from previous Call of Duty games). Even with everything Microsoft and IW said and their promises to redefine the series I still think they need to do so much more to win me back to the series again in terms of gameplay and design. More details will likely be shown at E3 in a few weeks which could change my mind.  

Bits Im unsure about

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·         The Name

Going from Xbox, to Xbox 360 to Xbox One seems like a rather radical change to me. The word One in particular raises many questions; it likely reflects the one place for all entertainment vibe that Microsoft is focusing on. On the other hand it could be considered by some as perhaps a cocky jab at its competitors; Microsoft could be saying were the number one place for all entertainment this console generation so jump on board quickly. Regardless a consoles name matters little and Microsoft has clearly put across what the system can do in the reveal event.

·         Xbox Live

Microsoft only briefly mentioned Xbox Live at the conference, talking about updated achievements, and technical details which left me scratching my head as to what they plan to do with the service; it would have made sense to officially quell all the always online rumours so that consumers wont have as many doubts about the system but unfortunately well have to wait to E3 to find the answers.

Overall Microsoft did OK for an initial reveal; but not quite enough to win me over. The conference itself was carried out well enough, but it was rather short, and fairly unbalanced. Of course the Xbox One still has E3 and the coming months to truly prove itself in this console generation; by then well all know the full extent of what the system is capable of. What were your own thoughts on the system? Did Microsoft deliver? Are you decided on Xbox One yet?

The Next Xbox: What does Microsoft need to do?

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Theres no denying that the eighth generation of gaming consoles is getting more than a little bit crowded; with systems like the Piston, Ouya and the Steam Box joining the fray, the big three that dominated the last generation certainly have a lot of work to do, particularly Microsoft who have revealed the least about their upcoming console. I realise that my last blog post was deemed too favourable towards Sony so heres my personal five things that Microsoft should do to succeed in the next generation.

 Poster for Gears of War Judgement from epicgames.comPoster for Halo 4

1. MORE EXCLUSIVE TITLES BESIDES HALO AND GEARS OF WAR

The Xbox has been synonymous for excellent exclusives from day one since the original Halo, in 2006 we were bestowed with Gears of War and Call of Duty has many times over declared exclusivity to Microsofts platform. Countless times, loyal fans have snapped up every new title in both of Microsofts flagship franchises but where are the new IPs? With the release of Halo 4 and the upcoming Gears of War Judgement, sequel fatigue seems to be setting in; while Sonys developers are coming up with new franchises such as The Last of Us and Nintendo is always finding different ways to modernise its long running mascots, Microsoft has been seriously lacking in the innovation department. Instead they choose to keep refining their popular franchises over many years.

Dont get me wrong, Halo and Gears of War are always great games but although this tactic can still work for a time, it wont last forever. Microsoft needs new, innovative franchises or risk even their most hard-core fans going to other systems, having grown bored of practically the same games with few changes year to year

Image of Kinect facing sideways

2. DITCH THE KINECT

As you already know, in my opinion Kinect has been and still is the biggest rip off of this console generation. Theres no simpler way of putting it; when you have a £250 motion sensing accessory and the only game that comes barely close to being must-own is Dance Central, topped off with it being utterly inaccurate and incapable of satisfying both the casual and hard-core crowds, you need to stop and THINK OF YOUR CONSUMERS MORE. Perhaps the only reason anyone bought the Kinect in the first place was that it looked cool and futuristic based on Microsofts overzealous 500 million dollar advertising campaign. Weve all forgiven the device a few times, waited patiently for the next big game to come but neither of these promises were met, sending Microsoft laughing all the way to the bank with 24 million units sold as of February 2013. Nowadays (Im hoping!) many consumers know all about the accessory and all its lies and so wont be so easily tricked into buying it. Furthermore the large focus into the casual market has been and gone, even Nintendo has been working diligently with the Wii U to ensure the system is geared to the hard-core audience. Releasing Kinect 2 hoping to reach the same success could result in losses rather than profits this time; so Microsoft, do us all a favour and focus these production costs into new game franchises instead. (Though regretfully theyll probably push ahead with Kinect 2 anyway)

Large Xbox Live logo

3. REFINE XBOX LIVE

One of the main reasons I passed on Xbox 360 when many of my friends had bought the system was the fact that they charge you yearly for online play; this sort of constant payment puts me right off any game and it seemed quite insulting to me at the time when Sony, Nintendo and even Steam offered online multiplayer for free. True Xbox Live is still considered the greatest of all online services by many and it can be argued that the fees go towards network security measures but now companies are fully aware of the damage a mass hack can cause (May 2011 PS3 being one of them) and are committing resources to ensure these dont happen. With all the profits made from Halo, Gears, Kinect and everything Xbox, Microsoft surely has sufficient funds from those sources to build security without having to extract every last penny from us year in, year out. Taking a cue from PlayStation Plus, Xbox Live should be updated to give Silver account members the chance to play online without having to pay, whereas new paid gold and platinum accounts can be issued to those who want more out of their online experience. Do this Microsoft and youre sure to attract more consumers possibly even myself who were put off from buying your system before.

Smartglass for Xbox 360 presented at E3 2012

4. GET RID OF ALL OTHER GIMMICKS

In relation to my previous point on Kinect, Microsoft hasnt done much that isnt an accessory that answers to what its competitors offer. When I first saw smart glass I rolled my eyes, thats the best they can come with? Repeating what Nintendo have done with the dual screen idea? and were then subtly mocked by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone thereafter. Pointless Kinect features in existing franchises have also plagued Microsoft since 2010, whether its fiddling with gunsmith in Ghost Recon Future Soldier or making conversation options in Mass Effect 3. Microsoft needs to learn and understand that their most loyal fans couldnt care any less about these pointless features. From this they will stop wasting time and resources on these features and focus on what we want as consumers, certainly the right way to go for a company that has placed extra focus on profits over player satisfaction more than any other hardware company.

Microsoft's E3 2013 Press ConferenceXbox 360 Red Ring of Death

5. HAVE A STRONG REVEAL (AND RELEASE) FOR THE NEXT XBOX

Sony and Nintendo have already whetted everyones appetite for the next generation; now Microsoft has some high expectations to meet. Be it an event in April or E3 this year, Microsoft needs to give their fans what they want; showing the system, its games (along with new franchises), and possibly a release date and price. What they should never do is degenerate their events into embarrassing overacted conferences consisting mainly of children playing Kinect games like they did at E3 2010 and 2011. They have a strong reveal and they successfully build anticipation leading up to the systems release. Finally Microsoft needs to have a good launch; the Xbox 360 had the advantage over its competitors by launching in 2005 but in doing so they suffered shortages and technical problems (Anyone else remember the red ring of death?). A good launch will mean that sales can be maximised out of the gate, leading to further successes in the long run.

These were my own personal pointers for Microsoft, what do you think the next Xbox needs to do to succeed?