Experience Points: My Impressions Of Gamescom So Far
Yesterday I spent the day with most of the eGamer cohorts covering the big conferences for Gamescom 2013, mainly Microsoft, EA and Sony. It was very clear at times which demographic of gamers all the companies were aiming their press conferences at, and the conferences in general displayed how these companies will be defining their future.
It was evident that Microsoft had upped the exclusive content in their press conference, including the announcement of some new games, a promising indie initiative for developers and reiterated a host of exclusives and timed exclusives they had revealed at E3. It was great to get some details about how Microsoft’s real world indie policy would operate and with some amazing benefits for registered developers such as two free dev kits, this is surely the right move. One can ascertain that Microsoft are attempting to cover all their bases for next-gen, and even took time to release some information about Minecraft studio Mojang’s newest game called Cobalt coming to Xbox platforms. It was also revealed that exclusive content would be included for FIFA 14 players on the console, and that you’ll get the game free with an Xbox One if you preorder the console. In turn, it’s interesting to see Microsoft broaden their target market somewhat, but they still maintain ties with a sport-oriented focus next-gen, in terms of broader appeal. Of course, there is divergence in some of the offerings in Microsoft’s next-gen catalogue, but it is far from as diverse as Sony’s indie-oriented showing at Gamescom. I was impressed with Microsoft, and despite not having a live stream all the news that was revealed I felt to be relevant. At least I wasn’t forced to sit through awkward presenters with limited personalities and no presentation skills, like in EA’s case.
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EA had a boring show to be truthful, as the show started off with a strong focus on Sims 4 and ‘emotions’. Are you drinking the same Kool-Aid as David Cage, EA? We got to see more of Titanfall, Plants Vs. Zombies 2 (with a content update), Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, Command And Conquer gameplay footage, Battlefield 4 and Dragon Age: Inquisition to name a few. This was pretty much an extension of E3 for EA and purely a marketing exercise, and EA certainly focused a great deal on sports as usual. It wasn’t too tedious because of the aforementioned variety in games. But even Dragon Age: Inquisition was just a developer diary. The presenters were typical of such events and in the end it just felt like such a laborious affair than exciting in any form or manner.
Sony was the master of unnecessarily long press conferences this year at Gamescom with a large portion of the show spent on the PS3 and PS Vita, finally getting to PS4 news in the last twenty minutes or so. You should have seen the look of utter terror on my face waiting for news of the PS4. We just wanted the release date, but no Sony leaves that to the last minute. With that said, the Vita line-up and support was amazing, and a sight to behold. With many varied titles from Borderlands 2 to a game from the Dear Esther dev, and interesting games like Murasaki Baby, Rime and Shadow Of The Beast. Additionally, there was an extreme amount of indie support from Sony, where they showed off what indie games were heading to the PS4 and Vita. This took up a large chunk of time in the press conference, but was impressive nonetheless and shows that Sony thinks highly of indie development, and its future possibilities. Ending off with PS4 relevant news, including price drops for the PS3, Vita and related peripherals, despite my protests, ended the conference quite nicely. Whilst the first half of the conference wasn’t all that exciting. The second half made up for much of my frustrations. We now have a release date for the PS4 and some new games to look forward to for the platform.
In all earnest, I enjoyed Sony’s conference more so than EA’s conference. A sports-centric focus, Sims, emotions and dev diaries don’t knock my socks off. However, Sony didn’t truly have an exciting showing either. Microsoft had plenty of exclusive content and I appreciated the variety overall, but without an actual stream I was left wanting more from Microsoft. Perhaps they didn’t want a PR disaster as was the case at E3. The reality is that Sony is releasing their next-gen offering in a greater number of countries than Microsoft on launch. This is a huge difference. Yet I honestly feel that Microsoft aren’t fazed by this at all, as their market dominance in North America is the major key to their success in the long run.
Personally, I am currently sold on the PS4. With a large indie game selection hitting the console and bizzare game titles making their way to the PS4, there is definitely variety in Sony’s offering. Alas with the Xbox One remains Master Chief and Halo 5. So in all probability, I will end up purchasing both next-gen consoles.