E3 2018 – Our Expectations and Plans!

E3 2018 is just around the corner on June 9th, but what can we expect from each show, and will it be good?

E3 kicks off on June 9th with the live presentations!

E3 2018 begins June 9th!

Firstly however, we need to cover our E3 2018 plans! In our Discord community we have a channel with the full schedule and discussion of E3. Secondly, we will be posting pre and post E3 thoughts in our bi-weekly podcast both before and after E3. We may even live-react to a few of the events, but more on that at a later date!

So what can we expect from E3? Well it’s hard to say. Overall it feels like a potentially solid show with few standouts, so let’s see why.

 

EA – June 9th – 11am PT // 2pm ET // 7pm BST // 4am AEST (10th)

 

EA Conferences typically put people to sleep.

Can you say boring? It’s EA at a press conference!

EA is first to bat at the show this year, and that’s probably a good thing. Where EA typically stumbles is in engagement. A very corporate show mixed with online personalities and a lack of really exciting and unexpected news leaves a lot to be desired.

When talking about games, outside of a boring presence, we know Battlefield V is confirmed to appear. Anthem is also a very likely shoe in given its recent delay to 2019. No doubt Star Wars will be teased in some capacity as well after Battlefront II…launched last year.

Oh and of course, FIFA 19, Madden 19 and so on. Maybe some more Need for Speed, it’s hard to say. Of course the jury is still out on if the Nintendo Switch will make an appearance for any of these games after previous comments.

Verdict – A shallow but serviceable event. Just bring coffee.

Microsoft – June 10th – 1pm PT // 4pm ET // 9pm BST // 6am AEST (11th)

Does Microsoft finally have something to show for the Xbox One?

Will Microsoft repeat the mistakes of E3’s past?

Microsoft is in the worst position heading into this E3. After launching Game Pass and seeing its latest first party titles falter, there is only one known first party release in the pipeline. Crackdown 3 was meant to release last year but got delayed to 2018, and this E3 would mark 5 years since it was revealed. Hopefully it gets a date and sticks it this time.

Of course, Microsoft needs more than that. In what is billed as their biggest show ever, and what is now confirmed to be 2 hours in length, they need to come out swinging. Any less, and the Xbox One misses its final chance at meaningful exclusive software. Phil Spencer has been talking a big game for years, but yet to show anything.

Forza Horizon 4 is a lock in for this year, but beyond that maybe a fix to the Halo Collection at long last, 4 years after it launched? Gears of War? Maybe get a RARE IP back in action? There will at least be waves of indies. Microsoft really needs to swing and as this years wildcard, they may just do that. But any less than amazing and it will be time to write the system off.

Verdict – It better be good, but we simply can’t say. Prepare for disappointment.

 

Bethesda – June 10th – 6:30pm PT // 9:30pm ET // 2:30pm BST (11th) // 11:30am AEST (11th)

What big games will Bethesda bring?

Could we see the Elder Scrolls at E3?

Bethesda is planning a short but sweet conference again this year. No doubt they will feature a final push for Wolfenstein 2 on Switch as they did last year with Skyrim. Hey, maybe they can announce a Fallout thing or something?

Of course, RAGE 2 is showing up, a now confirmed and very different game to the original. DOOM 2 is also rumoured (And welcomed!) but it may be a year too soon. Of course The Elder Scrolls is on everyone’s minds now, but that’s not likely this year.

Starfield is very likely however. This mystery IP is due a reveal any time now, as we know nothing except it exists. If it proves a strong title, it could be a show stealer. The short but sweet nature of this show leads me to feel they don’t have much to announce however.

Verdict – It could be good, but there won’t be much quantity.

 

Square Enix – June 11th – 10am PT // 1pm EDT // 6pm BST // 3am AEST (12th)

 

Can Final Fantasy VII show up?

Is it time?

Square Enix is returning to E3! That could be amazing or absolutely horrifying.

No doubt we will get details on Final Fantasy XV’s announced 2019 DLC (Why?) and Kingdom Hearts 3 will get its release date at long last. Final Fantasy VII may show up in some form but don’t expect it.

The confirmed Avengers title will likely show for the first time. What this game can be is anyone’s guess but a new reveal would be excellent. Naturally Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Dragon Quest XI will feature.

Also expect Octopath Traveler and Dragon Quest Builders 2 to appear. One as a final push and the other to finally show the damn thing. Of course this is Square Enix, you can expect a random game or two for fun.

Verdict – Probably going to be the high point. Lots of games we know are coming and plenty surprises are possible.

 

Ubisoft – June 11th – 1pm PT // 4pm ET // 9pm BST // 6am AEST (12th)

Remember this horror?

Ubisoft had a good show last year. Can we see it again?

Ubisoft is in a unique position. Of course we will get updates on announced titles like Starlink and The Crew 2. No doubt they will also flaunt Beyond Good and Evil 2 as well, after a big reveal last year.

Watch Dogs 3 is expected, forming a new bi-yearly cycle with Assassins Creed, but no doubt DLC will appear for that. Their VR projects also took a bit of focus last year, so updates would be welcome.

What Ubisoft could show that is unexpected is a mystery. They likely won’t have another collaboration with Nintendo already, nor a new South Park title. This will most likely be an update on the known games and quantities moving forward.

Verdict – Solid but nothing stellar.

 

PlayStation – June 11th — 6pm PT // 9pm ET // 2am BST (12th) // 11am AEST (12th)

PS4 is still riding high.

How can PS4 wow and continue it’s dominance?

Learning from their mistakes of showing stuff years in advance and disappointing us at E3 2017 by repeating E3 2016, they announced their plans in advance.

Sony will be focusing on 4 main games, in what I suppose is a 4 act structure: Spider-Man, Death Stranding, Ghost of Tsushima and The Last of Us: Part 2. With the exception of Spider-Man, making its third appearance, these will all be gameplay reveals and maybe even release dates.

The question is why such a large push for Spider-Man when other games could do with the spotlight such as Dreams? Third party announcements like exclusive DLC, VR news and a few indies will break up the pacing between each big game, but the pace threatens to drag with already known quantities if they hold on them for too long.

PS4 is very much on autopilot now.

Verdict – Solid, but a bit repetitive and unremarkable.

 

Nintendo – June 12th – 9am PT // 12pm ET //5pm BST // 2am AEST (13th)

Can Nintendo wow again?

This could potentially be disastrous.

Nintendo has already stated one thing. Only 2018 titles will show here. That and their main event is only on Switch. 3DS announcements will come in Treehouse Live if any.

With that in mind….eh. This really does seem like it could be lacklustre. Only focusing on the upcoming 6 months of content feels risky, but with Fire Emblem and Yoshi due out this year, one of which we haven’t even seen yet, and a confirmed focus on Super Smash Bros. it can at least be solid. Add in Pokemon and hey it could be great.

But we all knew about those games anyway, some for well over a year at this time. Plus on the third-party front I don’t expect much. This will be the Smash and Fire Emblem show. If neither of those interest you, don’t expect much else. This could just be pessimism, but it feels like an unfortunately low-key second show for their new system.

Verdict – Potential great, if third parties show, and if the game selection is greater than anticipated. Most likely just average otherwise.

 

 

And that’s it. We will see how right we are on the money and if we can be pleasantly surprised after E3! What do you think we will see? As always Happy Gaming, and stay tuned to the NL Inklings community for our takes on the events!

Nintendo 3DS: It’s Time To Move On…Slowly.

The 3DS Family is now almost 7 years old, and I see two camps. Those who don’t want to upgrade to a Nintendo Switch for things that were on 3DS previously, and those who want it to die immediately.

 

REPUBLISHED MAY 3 2018 – Nintendo themselves have clarified the stance on the 3DS going forward:

“[The 3DS] has an ample software lineup at a price point that makes the system affordable especially for parents looking to buy for their kids. We expect that demand to continue during this fiscal year as well, so we will continue to sell the product”

“Given that Nintendo Switch is a home gaming system that can be taken on the go, this situation may change if it grows from being a one-per-household system to a one-per-person system. But the price of Nintendo Switch is not something with which most parents would buy a system for every one of their children in a short period of time. Moving forward, we will work to ascertain what kinds of play people want at which price points, and as long as there is such demand, we will continue to sell the Nintendo 3DS system. I see the product coexisting with Nintendo Switch at this point in time.”

 

Original Story – December 2017

 

So this is an interesting position we find ourselves in. Nintendo 3DS launched in March 2011, meaning very soon, it hits 7 years old. For any console that is exceptionally good, as the average tends to hover around 5 years, with exceptions being the DS, 3DS, PS2 and the entire 7th Generation of consoles. You could probably say 7 years is now the new average.

In reality, at this stage, we should be looking to the future, even with the New 3DS/2DS lines, you can only get so much out of the systems, and as shown with Pokemon, and as explained by the developers, that ceiling has been hit. You can’t push it anymore than you already have, and again, 7 years? That’s a great time to move on.

Thing is, I see two warring sides to this.

 

On one hand, we have the Pokemon fans primarily. They say the newly released New 2DS XL is a sign it’s not dead, and the move of things like Pokemon to Switch are just cash grabs, and that they should just keep making games for 3DS. Why should we have to upgrade, they say.

Okay so first off, you’ve had to do this before. Remember Pokemon Crystal? You needed a GameBoy Colour. Then a GBA, DS and 3DS. Now it’s Switch. This isn’t new and part of the industry. You can’t be held back for so long and you need to move forward, heck most consumers encourage it.

The concept that you wasted your money…well that depends on your individual perception of value. If you bought a system just for Pokemon, you would know an upgrade, like with anything technological, is inevitable. It will happen no matter what. You can’t expect the system to last and be supported forever.

With regards to the argument they just released a New 2DS XL, they also released the Wii Mini a year after the Wii U. Did that mean the Wii was still kicking? Not really, unless you count the licensed games and Just Dance. I will come back to the New 2DS XL though, it ties in to something else.

 

What about the other side of the argument?

The other side of the crowd simply wants the 3DS line dead, as soon as Switch is out, citing it takes away development resources and there is no reason the games shouldn’t be on Switch.

First off with this one, do you remember how everyone reacted to the near empty final year of the Wii? Yeah, that’s how support used to be handled at the end of a console life by Nintendo, and people hated it. But here, people want it? Why? It’s a dumb decision and should never be done that way.

Regarding the games still coming to 3DS, yes they could have been made with Switch in mind, ignoring late localizations like Dragon Quest. The majority of first party titles have been smaller studios owned by Nintendo, outsourced remakes like Metroid and Superstar Saga, or again, late localisations. Or third parties, who do whatever they please, and Nintendo would be very unwise to turn around and say hey, stop making games for the 60 million plus 3DS systems out there. They already had a bad rap with developers for their controlling ways with the NES, why go back there and force people onto a new platform?

 

Secondly, really now? You want them to throw away all investment into well in-development projects and have the extra time, money and man hours put into changing everything for the new architecture of the Switch, its features, and HD development? Sure some 3DS games have been ported up, like Monster Hunter XX and Resident Evil Revelations (Albeit that was ported elsewhere first) and games like Fire Emblem Warriors came out on both systems, but doing that is in of itself splitting the game in two sides. One version will be inherently inferior, but unlike a game across Vita and PS4, there is nothing gained by having the Switch version except TV play and maybe a boost in sales from the limited install base, and an extra feather in the library of a young system. IT would likely sell to the biggest audience anyway (Obviously), and frankly, many companies wouldn’t want to spend the extra time and most importantly money.

Is this normal?

 

This is the thing, systems are allowed a crossover period. It’s normal. Normally the last few already in-development first party games trickle out, and third parties catch up with localizations and support dries up over a year or two, save for the odd third-party game to cash in on the install base and drive software sales from, get this, late adopters.

So coming back to the New 2DS XL, it is the Wii Mini to the 3DS. The PS3 Super Slim. The Xbox 360 Elite. When manufacturing a system gets cheap enough, it’s actually very wise to leverage that huge back catalog accumulated over the years the system had, and sell a revised, cheaper to make, more affordable to the consumers budget system, which is exactly what the New 2DS XL is. For suspiciously half the price of a Nintendo Switch (Wink wink) you get the entire 3DS backlog (And DS backlog too!) on a now very cheap to make system.

As a deal to late adopters, those who pick up systems late in life, it’s a great way to squeeze potential last sales with a low price and huge catalogue of games. Just as the PS3 and Xbox 360 and even the Wii were sold for a few years into their successors lifespans with their cheapest models and games, so will 3DS.

This image tells a thousands stories on its own…

7 years is a very long time, and for Pokemon and other games, they have a new home, a new ceiling to jump towards. This happens with any system, and any system is wise to be revised and made the budget option for families or Little Timmy’s first system. This extends to even the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X now: The premium models, like Switch, to their now cheaper to make, huge catalogue, revised systems in PS4 and Xbox One S. Difference here is yes, it is a completely different ecosystem, but the reasoning is the same.

It’s time to move on, but it’s not wise to just kill the system where it stands. Let it trickle out slowly, as other systems do. Oh, and please, get used to the idea of upgrading your hardware, it’s been 30 years already.

 

As always if you enjoyed this article, give it a share on social media and leave your thoughts below, and until next time, Happy Gaming!

Mid-Tier Games: Why We Love Them and Want More!

Mid-Tier Games are some of the highlights of the industry. But where did they go and why are they now returning?

 

Sonic Mania is a perfect example of a mid-tier release from a major company

A perfect example of a “Mid-tier” game!

The immediate thing any gamer needs to understand is the distinction between a Mid-Tier or “AA” game, and something that is commonly called a “AAA” game. The difference is actually night and day!

A “AAA” game is quite simply a game with huge potential reach in terms of customers. monetization and one massive budget backing it all up are other features.

A “Mid-Tier” game is a sizeable project, but marketed within reason. No game will be blown out of budget. A game knows the audience and the publisher will be happy reaching them. It doesn’t need to sell tens of millions after all.

Not every game needs to be Call of Duty in terms of sheer size or market value. Indeed every company will have a few massive well-known titles but a good developer leaves room for the smaller games.

 

So what are these smaller games?

Crash Bandicoot returned in 2017 with what can be best described as a AA release

Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is the perfect example of a big company stepping back into Mid-Tier gaming!

Smaller games come in all shapes and sizes. Companies are fond of putting out experimental ideas and seeing how well they sell. Franchises can even start as a smaller release and explode into the mainstream!

Splatoon was originally a smaller release. Simply a unique idea that ended up exploding in popularity to become on of Nintendo’s top franchises. Sticking with Nintendo, a franchise like Yoshi or Kirby also falls under this category. Notable and recognised characters that won’t sell in high quantity, but will make a return on investment.

PlayStation is also very good at pushing Mid-Tier releases. Gravity Rush, Fat Princess and LittleBigPlanet, all sit alongside the big releases. So why are these games all so important?

 

Why are smaller games so important?

Bayonetta 2 is a game that also fills the smaller game niche.

Bayonetta 2 is yet another example of a game that fills this niche

Try and imagine a system like the PS4. It gets all the huge AAA yearly releases. It holds the top of the tier first-party titles. But imagine the system without Persona 5, without Nioh, without Ratchet and Clank. Do you start to see what is missing?

Smaller games provide one key thing: Variety! If your system has nothing but huge games that need to sell millions for the publisher to consider it a “success”, then you will be presenting a surprisingly narrow selection of games.

Smaller games can afford to offer different experiences. They don’t need to cater to as many people as possible after all. Can you envision a Kirby title with the budget and scope of Call of Duty? That would never sell enough to be worthwhile. Yet being a mid-tier game allows Kirby to be unique, to be different and offer something worthwhile to a library.

So why are these games making a resurgence?

 

This is an easy answer. Cast your mind back to a decade ago, the height of the Xbox 360 and PS3. Everything wanted to be Call of Duty, the next blockbuster hit. The industry chases trends, currently Battle Royale games apparently, and the trend was to go big.

Even first party developers fell to this. When was the last Jak and Daxter? Sly Cooper? F-Zero? The mid-tier game fell to the side in pursuit of mega hit after hit. Every kind of game has a place in the market, but what felt strange was the almost overnight shift.

It’s hard to look back on the PS3 and PS4 and not wish it was like the PS2. Yes they got smaller games, even from first parties. Doesn’t it feel like they haven’t been pushed like they used to? Gravity Rush 2 is losing online connectivity, though that was recently delayed. I didn’t even know Fat Princess was a thing that existed. Tearaway isn’t mentioned anymore.

New games like Concrete Genie show up for sure. But it’s not in the volume it used to be. The variety suffers.

Metroid Samus Returns is a recent example of a smaller title and revival of a franchise

Metroid: Samus Returns was not only the revival of a fan favourite, but a commitment to smaller titles

The same happened for Nintendo. Only recently have we seen renewed interest in smaller games. A few popped up on Wii U and 3DS but Switch singled a shift. Snipperclips, ARMS, Bayonetta (Again). The Wii U had Wonderful 101, Captain Toad and 3DS has BoxBoy and Dillon.

The games supplement the library of huge titles and this is what makes a system truly attractive. Variety. It’s where Microsoft has fallen short. Swamped with the huge releases but smaller releases are hard to come by especially on a first party front.

 

So where are we going next?

 

Well this is also easy to predict. Third party developers will forever be inclined to pursue the big hits. They locked themselves into a cycle of monetization and marketing. Some are branching out to smaller games like Activision with Crash and Spyro or EA funding smaller titles from indies. By and large however that will remain a smaller part of their strategies.

Where this really comes into play is with the platform holders. They can throw out as many small titles as they want alongside the Marios and Uncharteds of the world. They have the resources and hardware sales to accommodate it.

It’s from first party software that you see the most variety. This word keeps popping up but to truly have something for everyone you need to be varied. Know that a game will sell only so much and plan accordingly.

Sometimes appealing to more people over multiple lower selling titles is better than aiming for the top every time.

 

 

Thanks for reading, and if you agree or disagree, feel to shout on social media. This is an interesting discussion spurred by trying to work out where I find my enjoyment for a system as a whole, naturally it’s that word again: Variety.

Happy Gaming!

Nintendo Switch eShop – UK Sales Charts (29/04/2018)

Is Football Manager still at the top? Did South Park make an impact as a new release? What indie games shot up in sales or otherwise? Let’s see…

Numbers in brackets 


1: Football Manager Touch 2018 – £29.99
2: Stardew Valley (Up from 3rd) – £10.99
3: Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition (Up from 4th) – £19.99
4: Oxenfree (Down from 2nd) – £15.99
5: Rocket League (Up from 6th) – £15.04
6: Robonauts (80% OFF) (Up from 10th) – £2.69 (u+Usually £13.49)
7: Arcade Archives: Vs. Super Mario Bros. (Up from 8th) – £6.29
8: Sonic Mania (Up from 12th) – £15.99
9: Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (Down from 5th) – £22.49
10: Streets of Red (Down from 9th) – £6.29
11: Don’t Starve: Nintendo Switch Edition (Down from 7th) – £17.99
12: Celeste (Up from 13th) – £17.99
13: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Up from 14th) – £49.99
14: South Park: The Fractured But Whole (NEW) – £49.99
15: Adventure Pals (Down from 11th) – £10.79

 

 

So what can we gleam from this look into the UK eShop? Well…

Football Manager Touch 2018 has firmly cemented itself as a top seller, making up what will likely be the top 4 for a good while now alongside Rocket League, Stardew Valley and Minecraft. At least until FIFA (Maybe) comes out on the Switch this September.

Arcade Archives remains around the middle of the charts, further showing nostalgia sells, as does Sonic Mania right behind perhaps in preparation for the DLC this July.

Streets of Red maintains it’s place despite no longer being on sale, while Robonauts hugely benefits. Of course Shovel Knight and Don’t Starve continue to drop down, while Celeste and Adventure Pals maintain the lower ends of the charts, with Celeste being a recent return.

Most notable then, is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe maintains it’s position as the sole charting digital first party title, and the only new entry this week is a respectable 14th place for South Park, a full price release of a game from October on other platforms. Maybe this one will pick up steam?

 

And that’s it for this week, so what did we learn? Football Manager is a hit, Mario Kart sells, indies are living the dream and South Park at least charted. Expect Donkey Kong to top next week though as a notable new release.