In the cold, dystopian future where all e’s are replaced by 3’s, E3 will be a number: 33. Which will be correct in the year 2028, but this is not that year. This is E3 the sixteenth, which does not represent itself in fancy numerical fashion.
Last year, we made some predictions about E3, and wouldn’t you know it four of them were right. Of five. I’m 80% correct. And you know what? We can do better! WE. CAN. DO. BETTER. We’ve got eight hot and steamy predictions here, of which we guarantee that at least one will be right. Can you guess which one?
1.Final Fantasy VII HD
I know. I know, this was the one that prevented me from getting 100% last year, but you know what? My reasoning was sound then, and only sounder now. Consider for a moment these factors. First, Square Enix lost more money this last year than everyone who will ever read this post combined, and Sony somehow lost even more. Square Enix is looking at the docket, no doubt, and seeing absolutely nothing to turn its fortunes around. FFXIV is a flop. Type-0 might be a brilliant title, but it’s a PSP exclusive that won’t move millions of units. They have a new, unannounced probably microtransaction based MMO, but that won’t rake in millions this year.
So they need a quick fix. Hideo Kojima recently told Tetsuya Nomura, character designer for VII and the only man left in the office at Square, to remake VII, which gives it the weight of critical legitimacy.
Square Enix needs this, and they need it bad. Sony needs it, too, and needs it bad. What I’m predicting is an HD remake, with all the edges smoothed out but otherwise untouched, for the PS3. A low effort offering that could be thrown together in time for the holiday season, will guaranteed sell millions of copies, and return Square Enix to the black. And Sony gets the much needed publicity at its press conference, offering a remake of Final Fantasy VII for the masses.
Everybody wins. Squenix and Nomura don’t have integrity anymore, so it’s high time it happens.
2.The Road to Dragon Age 3
Here’s the thing: Dragon Age 2 was a introduction, a prelude. No DLC has been announced. EA wants money. They want money badly (notice a running trend here?) Further, they want to combat used sales desperately, and making important, vital downloadable content is a great way to nickel and dime the player to death.
Enter The Road to Dragon Age 3. I foresee a snappy trailer for Dragon Age 3, then a cut to Varric talking, being asked to explain how they got there. This will cover two birds with one stone: they will get us amped for Dragon Age 3 (which I feel like they’re going to push out quickly) and will try to push the idea of downloadable content for Dragon Age 2 down our throats. Maybe even a full fledged expansion, but I don’t think that deals with used sales with the vigor they want. Four episodes of downloadable content to tell Hawke’s story after Kirkwall does, though.
3.Super Mario Bros. 3D and Pikmin 3D
Yes, that’s the fucking title. I’m going to keep being cynical about the 3DS until there’s a non-remake, and in light of the teasers with the raccoon tail and the obvious pun allowed by combining Mario Bros. 3 with 3DS, a remake of Mario 3, perhaps in 3D, perhaps with multiplayer support, seems likely. This is so likely I’m not even going to count it in the percentage correct. It’s probably a quick game to make, and will make boatloads of money.
And one thing you learn, after covering video games for a long time, is the might of the almighty dollar.
Another game just ripe for literary abuse is Pikmin. Pikmin 3 has been rumored forever, and with the Wii a dead system walking (well, almost), Pikmin 3D is so obvious and so awful a name that it will become Nintendo’s killer app for next spring. Yes, I made this decision based solely off of its name, but really, Pikmin would work great on the 3DS. The depth would add to the portrayal of the world as very, very tall, and the stylus controls would enable more strategy.
At the moment, I will say I make no predictions about Project Cafe. I don’t want to, and I don’t feel comfortable doing it. I’m leaning towards there just being tech demos, but I trust none of the information we have on it so far. There’s too much smoke, too many mirrors.
4.The Last Story and Xenoblade come to America!
Wish fulfillment is a very important part of these posts. There’s always that one thing you predict because you hope it will happen. This is that. I want The Last Story so bad I can taste it. And Xenoblade is pretty much joined to its hip. I think a big reveal, coupled with a playable demo on stage by Hironobu Sakaguchi, would be a fantastic way for Nintendo to cater to their hard core fans, who need something. Do this, and Nintendo wins E3 on the hard core gaming blogs, regardless of what anyone else does.
Do these games have markets? Sure. The Wii is dead, by all hardcore accounts, but this doesn’t mean that everyone and their brother and their mother don’t own Wii’s anymore. The install base is there, and there’s a lack of competition. These games could easily find homes in the holiday season, because they’re cheaper than the big name titles (though going up against Diablo III and Skyrim might be suicide). In any event, these two are coming. Mark my words.
5.A New Halo for the Masses
We’re without an announced Halo right now. Microsoft must realize it’s losing steam at this point: they’re running out of exclusives, and they need something to really fire up their base and stick it to Sony.
Is Halo 4 that game? Could be. The news that Call of Duty might have a paid component is causing a bit of a stir on the internet, and Microsoft should realize it’s time to move in and take back some of the market share they’ve lost to Call of Duty. Halo 4 could do that, with the title coming from Halo stewards 343 Industries. Perhaps not the biggest reveal, but a teaser designed to keep the Halo brand in the public mind is almost guaranteed at this point.
6.The Big New IPS
Where’s the big newness going to come from? Tough call. Besides the aforementioned things, I’m getting the feeling this is going to be a boring E3, in the sense that we aren’t going to have a whole lot sprung on us in the near future. Why not? Well, we’ve got a big slate of pre-summer games coming out, and then the fall is utterly packed to the gills, with Skyrim, Diablo 3, a potential Starcraft release, a number of 3DS games, a new Zelda title (maybe) and every first person shooter you could ask for.
I feel like the star of the show is going to be Rockstar’s teased last year release Agent. I’m getting the impression they love doing spring releases, and Agent would keep them as kings of May. I think Agent’s going to be a star. Other than that, the next year looks pretty crowded, so anything new we’re getting announced is going to be far off on the horizon.
7.Some Big New Consoles
Here’s a secret: I don’t care about new consoles. The only console I’ve ever been amped for at launch was the Wii, and we all know how that turned out. It’s games that get me excited, not the things you play on them. As such, I don’t care about what new machines will appear at E3 unless they are beyond incredible, but here are some predictions.
Project Cafe and the NGP will be announced. Public reaction will be lukewarm to both: Project Cafe will only offer tech demos and will be out next fall. It won’t capture our imagination, but it’ll offer some pretty cool practical innovations like the 3DS, to the point where we will get at least one It’s fucking magic! article from Jim Shining Finger Sterling over at Destructoid. On the whole, it’ll be mostly forgettable until a killer app is announced for it at the Tokyo Game Show and we start to get footage of the system in action.
NGP will be remorselessly forgettable. It will be too expensive, offer us nothing particularly stellar in terms of killer apps, and will in general be something we’d quickly like to forget. I mean, this is the company that still thinks the PSP Go was a good idea. Lessons will not have been learned.
Fern keeps pushing the Sony Phone, and I’m not buying it. There will be one handheld here, and unless the NGP is actually the Sony Phone in disguise, I don’t think they’ll steal its thunder. Then again, it’s fucking Sony. They’ve been out of touch with the gaming public for years now.
Battlefield 3 and Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age 3 are going to be slammed down our throats. EA is going to go for the jugular. There’s going to be awkward dancing, very few new Nintendo playables, sequels in huge franchises, and only one real new IP in Rockstar’s Agent.
E3 is really representative of the games industry as a whole, and the industry right now feels very conservative (save Rockstar). No one’s taking chances. We’re gonna see a lot of sequels tossed on top of each other in the major press conferences, a couple smaller new IPS revealed on the show floor to little fanfare (but perhaps a lot of acclaim), and less than usual from the Japanese market, prompting anti-Japanese publications to declare the death of Japan, ignoring the practicalities caused by the combination of the Earthquake and the economy. We’re in line for a pretty mundane E3 by E3 standards, and while it’s definitely going to be exciting, I doubt it’s going to quite as scintillating as we’d expect.
These are my predictions, at least. Obviously, E3 is a bit of a crapshoot. You try to predict specifics and you’re likely going to be wrong. You try to go general and you’re definitely going to be wrong. There’s a razor’s edge your predictions have to straddle, and in this case we’re going all out. Am I emboldened by last year’s successes? You bet your ass. Will it lead to my ruin? Probably. Probably.