If last year’s E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo was all about new hardware, this year’s event is focused on the games themselves.
It’s a chance for developers to show off what they can do now they’ve had more time with the “new-gen” consoles, and to stimulate chatter about their often huge-budget releases.
“E3 is much more than a convention, it’s a celebration of all things gaming – a place where the industry comes together to really show its stuff”, Peter Moore, chief operating officer of EA – one of the biggest publishers – tells the BBC.
“The biggest games, the biggest stage, an opportunity to talk about what’s coming now and in the future, and more so than ever to put the games in the hands of players.”
The Los Angeles event isn’t open to the public, but it does give the media the opportunity to get hands-on with forthcoming titles and to quiz their developers.
Consumers can, however, take part by watching live streams of the various announcements via the companies’ own websites and the gaming service Twitch.
One of the big surprises of the early new-gen games has been Wolfenstein: The New Order. In particular, the Nazi-shooter’s alternate-history storyline has been praised for helping revitalize the brand. Some other games on display are Mirror’s Edge 2, The Evil Within, Quantum Break and many more.
Sony was the undisputed victor at the last E3 – its PlayStation 4 beating the Xbox One on both price and positive buzz as Microsoft struggled with criticism about its desire to restrict second-hand sales, a position it later abandoned.
Microsoft aims to head off another backlash by announcing it will start selling the XBox One without its Kinect voice/vision sensor.
In addition, it promises a software update will unlock extra grunt for its graphics chip when the Kinect is not in use, addressing the fact that several Xbox One games have had lower frame rates and resolutions than their PS4 equivalents.
“Microsoft’s decision to aggressively reposition Xbox One as a gamers’ machine and to remove the need to buy Kinect at this early stage will have undoubtedly taken Sony by surprise and is likely to have resulted in some change in emphasis for Sony’s E3 press event,” says Piers Harding-Rolls, a games industry analyst at the IHS Technology consultancy.
Also Microsoft is promising more details about Halo 5 – the latest in its epic alien-battling series – at the show, although it’s not clear if it will show anything more than a pre-rendered tease.
It should, however, allow attendees to try out Sunset Overdrive -a brightly coloured game in which players slide along rails blowing up mutants – and Quantum Break – a game in which the characters control time.
All the same this promises to be an event worth attending.
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