E3 2015: A GODAMN SLOBBERKNOCKER
“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, STOP THE DAMN TRADE SHOW!”
Hear ye, hear ye! Now comes the time for Electronic Entertainment Expo XXI, the 21st yearly celebration of marketing hyperbole, awkward stage presentations, and crazy ambitious promises (that companies will never be able to keep).
Dates: June 16-18, 2015
Main Event: Facebook/Oculus Vs. Valve Vs. Samsung Vs. Sony Vs. Microsoft for the “Grown Ass Men In Goofy Helmets”Championship
With no new consoles on the horizon, the primary draw at this year’s E3 is a 5-way match between technology firms competing to dominate the emerging sector of extremely spendy, bulky headsets requiring varying levels of spendy hardware to use.
Never mind that add-on peripherals have traditionally had nothing less than abysmal adoption rates, leading to abysmal software support. That doesn’t matter, because Facebook put 2 billion on a tiny Kickstarter company in a move that amounts to Zuckerberg spending loose couch change on a speculative bet. In response, several tech firms panicked and raced to pump out their own version of VR, just in case it actually happens this time.
Microsoft’s Hololens isn’t even suited to playing video games – it’s more of an augmented reality thing that projects holograms in the room. Microsoft never saw a consumer product its corporate culture couldn’t fumble, and given Microsoft’s long history of terrible and/or unreleased consumer hardware, I’m putting better than even odds on it never coming to market in the first place, especially given recent news about possible Xbox One compatibility with Oculus.
Gear VR is a $200 trinket suited for a single brand of Android phone, meaning it lacks both the horsepower and user interface to create anything but the most shallow experiences. Pass.
Sony’s Morpheus is promising on paper, but Sony’s poor track record of supporting add-ons (Move, Eye Toy, Wonderbook, etc.) does fuck-all to inspire confidence.
Valve’s SteamVR will flounder at the company, if only because it looks pretty cool, and Valve stopped being in the business of prioritizing cool things customers dream about sometime around goddamn 2006.
In the end, the VR war’s winner (barring the still likely scenario that there is none because this is all a higher-spec repeat of the 90s fad) will be Oculus Rift. Forget what seems to be an emerging partnership with Microsoft to bring VR to the Xbox One, Oculus has history on its side: Like VHS and the Internet before it, the consumer technology most likely to succeed is the one which enhances the user’s ability to get off. Not only has Oculus publicly stated it doesn’t mind if you make VR porn, but close integration with Facebook means dreadfully boring women with great bodies will have the most sophisticated avenue to fish for compliments ever devised by humankind. If you thought social media could not become any more inane, humanity any more dumbed down, then just you wait for the dawn of the 360 degree stereoscopic duckface selfie.
Bethesda vs. Your Game Company’s Inferior Fucking Lineup
Doom 4 and Fallout 4 and Dishonored 2 mean the other turd companies making bleep boops might as well have stayed the fuck home, especially if the first two games release before 2016.
PREDICTION: Fallout 4 holiday 2015, with a way better Obsidian-developed Fallout 4.5 two years later. Doom 4 ends up looking cool but development continues to stall until Bethesda does what it should be doing now – turning the whole thing over to Machinegames. Dishonored 2 sometime in late 2016/early 2017.
Decrepit Aging Japanese Businessmen vs. Hideo Kojima, Koji Igarashi, & Good Sense
Konami’s got a legendary franchise lineup, a lineup it now sees fit to do absolutely nothing creative with, because they make way more money licensing characters for slot machine branding. Lacking support from Konami, the creator of Castlevania took to Kickstarter to make Castlevania-in-everything-but-name. He got a small fortune, indicating continued interest in the franchise (duh), but you try telling that to conservative Japanese businessmen. More shockingly, following a well-publicized breakup with Metal Gear creator/Chief Creative Officer Hideo Kojima, Konami has been going to extreme lengths to erase its top designer from its history books. Whether it means scrubbing Kojima’s name from all advertisements for the next Metal Gear, or preventing PS4 owners from redownloading a Kojima-built demo they already own, it’s clear this split was anything but amicable. Konami is exhibiting this year, but whether or not they have anything to talk about except Metal Gear is an open question.
BORING PREDICTION THAT WILL 99% PROBABLY HAPPEN: Konami makes decent returns from Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain, a game that ends up being their last true AAA title. Konami flirts with cheap/free-to-play console games for the next few years, games that are ultimately rejected by core gamers for their shitty microtransactions. By 2020, Konami exits console development entirely, and the only way you’ll see Solid Snake or Pyramid Head again is on a pachinko machine or shitty phone game. Kojima lands on his feet at Sony, which allows him to do whatever he damn well pleases.
CRAZY PREDICTION THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN: The whole thing has been nothing more than a ruse to hype up Metal Gear, similar to the character bait-and-switch in Metal Gear Solid 2, or the reveal that P.T. was actually an announcement for a new (now cancelled) Silent Hill game. Kojima cements his place as the industry’s Andy Kaufman, and instead of taking the audience out for milk and cookies — since we’re wishing for unicorns at this point — he announces that Zone of the Enders 3 and Policenauts 2 are available now on PSN, for free.
Game Journo Martyrdom Blogging Battle Royal
Lastly, as is tradition by this point, we’re bound to see every terrible game journalism site try to one-up each other with clickbait think pieces about this year’s spectacle. Favorite past topics include wondering if poorly designed indie games are rendering E3’s bloat obsolete (the answer is no), if the violence in so many big-budget games is problematic (the answer is no), and if we need a sort of minimum enforced quota for female presenters to be elevated among the constant sea of awkward game developers in jeans and sports jackets (again, no).
PREDICTION: Given the events of the past 9 months, expect a renewed focus on trying to tie this loud, stupid trade show (and gaming as a whole) to feminism, racism, the police state, and hashtag gamergate. The journos have come face to face with their own impending irrelevance, so expect a banner year for Trying Too Hard.
As to who will write the biggest turd, the safe money is on a repeat for last year’s “victor,”Danielle Riendeau.The former ACLU communications director blew away everyone last year in the ridiculousness category bycomparingthe number of severed heads in game trailers to the number of women making awkward on-stage presentations, then acting as if this was somehow a valid comparison indicative of anything but her own agenda.
Our dark horse pick? The Guardian’sJessica Valenti. A turd of a woman who led the charge in misrepresenting Gamergate to the best of her ability, Valenti’s interest in slandering the call for ethics in game journalism seems to have waned. Still, make no mistake: This hateful dolt is The Guardian’s premiere culture warrior, and as such, if theres a cheap shot for clicks to be taken at E3, there’s a good chance she’ll be holding the gun.