The Electronic Entertainment Expo is the moment every year for the main players in the video game industry to show off their muscles. Known as E3, the fair is an annual event where the industry's big announcements are made. This year's edition in Los Angeles was no exception, even if some of the announcements were focused more on software. Yet, this was to be expected, as the current games consoles are relatively new and now is the time to start releasing games for them and thereby stimulate sales.
Sony is clear about keeping a strong catalogue for its PlayStation 4 (PS4) as the new console with the best sales so far . Action, classics, adventures, the Japanese multimedia giant kept even the most hardcore gamers happy with a stream of announcements of new games that, for the most part, will not reach stores until next year. This is the case of a game that has generated much expectation, The Last Guardian. This project has been in development for many years, to the point that some gamers had given up on ever playing it. Something similar happened with Shenmue 3, an open-world role-playing game. The third instalment will bring the saga to a close after a 14-year wait. The game, funded by a kickstarter crowdfunding project, will be exclusive to PS4 and PC. Sony also announced the release of a new version of the much-loved Final Fantasy 7 for PS4.
Other highlights were the announcement of a new chapter in the Uncharted series, this time with pirates, while No Man's Sky, a game in which the player explores a seemingly infinite universe of planets and Dreams, the latest experiment from the creators of the Little Big Planet were other novelties announced by Sony. Finally, Horizon is a new action game that portrays a future in which cities have died and nature has established dominance, in which a woman has to face robotic dinosaurs.
Apart from platform exclusives, the large firms are keen to promote additional content for third party bestsellers. Sony has World of Final Fantasy and Street Fighter V and also underwrites additional content for Assassin's Creed Syndicate, the Destiny expansion, The Taken King, and Call of Duty: Black Ops III, the latest instalment from the video game franchise that has sold more copies than any other in gaming history.
However, it seems that in this E3 games are still more important than virtual reality (VR), which was advertised as something to look out for. Sony had already announced its Morpheus VR project, although details are scant. The Oculus Rift VR system was also present at E3, but beyond confirming its launch in 2016 there was little to go on. The CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, Andrew House, assured attendees that the developers of Project Morpheus were working with truly immersive experiences but still had a way to go. From the rumours surrounding the VR projects, it seems developers are pursuing a social function for their systems, connecting users rather than isolating them.
The US tech giant also announced a small but significant change to compatibility with its latest console. Those in charge of Xbox One have decided to allow owners of the system to play games designed for its forerunner, the Xbox 360. While not groundbreaking, it could be vital in resuscitating sales of Microsoft's current gen console, which lags behind the PS4, with 10 million units sold compared with Sony's 22 million. Microsoft also announced new exclusive games, including Halo 5: Guardians, Forza Motorsport 6, Rise of Tomb Rider and Gears of War.
Microsoft also sees glasses as an important complement for experiencing its games, although it has opted for augmented reality. In its presentation, Microsoft introduced the HoloLens system.
For the third year running, that other industry giant, Nintendo, showed off its novelties in a pre-recorded presentation. Nintendo announced the release of a number of games, such as Mario Maker and Starfox, although most attention was focused on its playable Amiibo figures, with new models that are compatible with the popular Activision game, Skylanders. Moreover, for the first time, Nintendo announced it will begin exploiting its huge library of video game characters for use in mobile games and theme parks.