ThinkBoxly is the personal developer blog of Lucas Chasteen, author, programmer, artist, and always learning. Read more

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Who ‘Won’ E3 2013? (Is that even a question?)

Few could have foreseen the significance E3 2013 would have for the gaming industry. Nintendo already released their new hardware last year, Sony insisted that they would be the last to introduce an 8th generation console, and Microsoft declined to comment about their plans for the future entirely. Crowd favorites like Tomb Raider and Remember Me have now released commercially and will not be making a showing at the conference. What could possibly end up being so special about this E3?

That’s when Sony suddenly held a press conference to announce the Playstation 4, Microsoft followed suit to announcing the Xbox One, Nintendo decided to forego a stage presentation, and Square Enix teased the unveiling of a brand new Final Fantasy game. That, combined with titles for new consoles and titles that have been in development for current consoles for some time now, suddenly made this year’s E3 one of the most important in a very long time. Let’s look at a quick rundown of what happened, and then face answering the question that comes around at this time every year: “Who ‘won’ E3?”

(Listed in chronological order of press conference. This is not an exhaustive list of every game at E3, just what was shown during press conferences. Click the headers to watch the conferences!)


-Crimson Dragon

-Dark Souls II

-Dead Rising 3

-Forza Motorsport 5

-Killer Instinct

-Max: The Curse of Brotherhood

-Metal Gear Solid V

-Minecraft: Xbox One Edition

-Project Spark

-Quantum Break

-Ryse: Son of Rome

-Sunset Overdrive

-The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt


-World of Tanks

-Xbox One

I’m still searching for the right adjective to describe Microsoft’s recent approach to gaming. Metal Gear Solid V, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, and Quantum Break all made incredibly strong showings, but it was all tainted by the recent controversy over certain decisions made in regards to Xbox One functionality. Specifically, how the console will require frequent online authenticity checks or else the console locks out its owner, how games are linked to one account and can’t be lent out to friends or sold used, and how Kinect must be on at all times–even when the console isn’t. There was an air of tension about the conference as Microsoft tried to move forward as if these issues don’t exist. What matters, though, is that the games were good. Very good.


-Battlefield 4

-Command & Conquer

-Dragon Age III: Inquisition

-EA Sports UFC

-FIFA 14

-Madden NFL 25

-Mirror’s Edge 2

-NBA Live 14

-Need for Speed Rivals

-Peggle 2

-Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare

-Star Wars: Battlefront

Call them the worst company in America if you want to, EA still puts out some pretty good titles. Their problem is just that right now they don’t have many truly stand-out games to show. Battlefield 4 was expected to be the highlight of the EA conference, but we already have enough military shooters on the market to sink a ship. As legitimately cool as the new features are, I can’t help but feel weary of yet another game like so many others. Need for Speed Rivals, which is being developed by a new studio in Sweden, actually managed to differentiate itself from the rest of the long-running series, but ultimately drowns in a sea of other racing games announced in other E3 2013 conferences. And goodness knows that the yearly sports games are impressive, but have difficulty drawing the attention of anyone but long-time fans. In the end it’s the oddball Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare that really looked most interesting–a game that nobody asked for, but lots of us want now that we’ve seen it. Mirror’s Edge 2 and Star Wars: Battlefront will be huge subjects at future E3’s, but this year there just wasn’t enough of them to show. I’m confident that I would have a great time with any of the new titles shown by EA, but I have a harder time seeing myself spending money on most them, and the ones that I would snatch up without hesitation are just beginning development. EA put on a good show, but it’s mostly forgettable.


-Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

-Just Dance 2014

-Rayman Legends

-Rocksmith 2014

-South Park: The Stick of Truth

-Splinter Cell: Blacklist

-The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot

-Trials Fusion


I don’t usually expect a lot from Ubisoft at E3. They’ve had some pretty awful announcers host their show over the years, and their showcase games always struck me as rather poor efforts. This year though, Ubisoft actually came off pretty good. Last year’s bad announcer was back, but aside from a ridiculous hashtag which I shall decline to mention, she mostly contained herself. Mostly. But the games, rather than just not be as bad as before, were actually pretty decent. Rayman was a favorite at the first E3 in 1995, and he still manages to make a good showing in 2013 with Rayman Legends. Watch_Dogs is set to be the best take on the technological vigilante idea that so many have tried and often failed to take full advantage of. Then there was The Crew, a massive open-world racing game that I never would have expected to come from Ubisoft—racing is usually EA’s thing instead. And then there was the surprise showing of Tom Clancy’s The Division, which not only looked like a noteworthy tactical shooter, but had absolutely stellar voice acting. Seriously, it’s the most natural acting I have ever heard in a game, maybe even in a movie. On the other hand, Rocksmith‘s presentation was horribly ambiguous and I couldn’t care less about the silliness that Assassin’s Creed has devolved into. It even froze during one of its on-stage demos, so let’s just move on. Ultimately, I was pleasantly surprised…despite a few kinks that are routine for the company.


-Abe’s Odyssey: New ‘n Tasty

-Beyond: Two Souls

-Don’t Starve

-Drive Club

-Final Fantasy XV

-Grand Turismo 6

-inFamous: Second Son

-Killzone: Shadowfall

-Kingdom Hearts III


-Mad Max

-Mercenary Kings

-Octodad: Dadliest Catch



-Ray’s the Dead

-Secret Ponchos

-The Order: 1886

-The Witness


-Playstation 4

Sony’s E3 2013 conference was pure class. Following the aforementioned Xbox One controversies, all eyes were on Sony to deliver a home run right in Microsoft’s face, and they delivered. I have never heard so much E3 applause as when Sony confirmed that the Playstation 4 would not require an internet connection or block the borrowing or selling of used games with DRM (data rights management). On top of that, at release the PS4 will sell for $399, a full $100 less than the Xbox One. But as I already said, it’s all about the games. And…Sony’s game showcase was pure class, too. Don’t recognize a lot of the names on Sony’s list? That’s because the Playstation 4 is THE console for indie developers, and to prove that, Sony brought a bunch of them on stage to show off their work and to announce that there will be a new self-publishing model for indie developers to get onto the Playstation Network store. Every one of the AAA titles shown at the conference also made a stellar showing–Sony went to great lengths to demonstrate the graphical prowess of their new hardware as a way to really excite gamers about the potential of this new gaming era. Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita were also briefly mentioned, as there is yet a lot to look forward to on these existing platforms as well. All in all, media is in Sony’s DNA, and they delivered a rocket punch of a presentation.


-Bayonetta 2

-Bravely Default: Flying Fairy

-Mario and Luigi: Dream Team Bros.

-Mario Golf: World Tour

-Mario Kart

-Mario Party 3DS

-Pikmin 3

-Pokemon X & Y

-Super Mario

-Super Smash Bros WiiU, 3DS

-The Legend of Zelda

-The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD

-The Wonderful 101

-Wii Fit U

-WiiU Party

-Yarn Yoshi

-Yoshi’s Island 3DS

Nintendo didn’t make a stage presentation this year at E3, but that doesn’t mean they abandoned the expo. The Nintendo booth at E3 2013 is huge, and a special Nintendo Direct streaming presentation covered what all there is to look forward to for E3 attendees now, and gamers everywhere in the future. While most of the titles are first-party gimmes for any Nintendo hardware, a few really new and unique experiences were given some screen time as well. Although short, The Wonderful 101 looks like exactly the sort of colorful, fun-filled adventure the Big N used to be known for (prior to the plethora of worthless third-party Wii games), and Bayonetta 2 is set to deliver hard-core gamers the WiiU adventure they deserve. However, I was disappointed with the new Super Smash Bros. Aside from being in HD, there doesn’t seem to be a huge graphical improvement over Super Smash Bros Brawl on the Wii. Gameplay also looks very similar, with basically no new features being demoed in Nintendo Direct. There are new levels and new characters, but that’s not going to sell WiiUs to people who hang on to their Wiis for Brawl. 3DS owners should be excited that they’ll finally get some portable Smash Bros, however. Nintendo is struggling, there’s no denying that, but for all that appreciate their style, the new offerings certainly look set to offer a lot of fun. There’s just not a lot to make Nintendo stand above the news of Xbox One, PS4, and all the next-gen games associated with them.

And the winner is...

Absolutely, totally, without a shadow of a doubt, Sony dominated this year’s E3 with not just one of the best presentations of the last few years, but one of the best presentations in E3 history. From beginning to end, every moment of the 2.5 hour conference was charged with energy and excitement and–as I already mentioned twice–pure class. Sony won the loyalty of every gamer in the room and abroad by demonstrating their loyalty to gamers in bringing them the content they want without the restrictions they don’t want. Playstation 4 was presented as the console home for indie developers and folks who love indie games. Fans of Square Enix Playstation classics finally got a glimpse of the long-requested Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy Versus XIII, renamed Final Fantasy XV (to everyone’s satisfaction). Continued support for Playstation 3 with new titles like Gran Turismo 6 and The Last of Us proves that Sony gets behind their machines and sticks with them to the bitter end to make sure that their customers have gotten every last ounce of potential out of the product. If E3 is all about getting folks excited and ultimately selling products to them before they’re even completed, Sony succeeded on every account. It feels like a great time to be not just a gamer in general, but a Playstation gamer in particular. No one else at E3 2013 came off with the same style, energy, and general aura of awesome that Sony did. It’s time for next-generation gaming. It’s time for the Playstation 4.

Welcome to the new age.