E3 2014: Five Predictions For The Event

Predicting what may come to pass each year at the major conferences at E3 is an arcane art, based almost entirely on wild speculation and messages received from magic 8-balls – even still, it doesn’t stop people from at least having a go.

The correct prediction of surprises may be even harder than ever at E3 2014, mainly because so many games have already been announced prior to the show making the conferences almost seem like a forgone conclusion. In any case I’ve listed below five things that I reckon could happen; some of them ambitious, some of them perhaps more ironclad than expected

1)         Sony Announce a Price Cut For The PS4

I’ll start with what is my most hoped, but also most ludicrous prediction. One of the major highlights of E3 2013 was the almost triumphal way that PS4 appeared compared to the Xbox One; no blocking of second hand games, free applications, a range of interesting first party titles and a price tag over £70 cheaper than Microsoft’s console. If we fast forward a year, the sales figures would suggest that Sony still hold that position of authority (8.1 million compared to 4.5 million for the Xbox One and 6.3 million for the Wii U – figures sourced from www.vgchartz.com) – but the reality is perhaps slightly different.

In that time, Microsoft have rebounded. A series of well-publicised u-turns in policy means that the online-only debacle is now mostly a faded memory of poor decision making, and the recent announcement that applications are now free on Xbox Live Gold has pulled the service much further in line with PSN. Combine this with the price cuts for the Xbox One that came into effect around April (and the Kinect-less console that will launch on 9th June for £349) and the fact that Sony’s proposed first party titles have nearly all been delayed into 2015, and I get the impression that Sony require a fairly reasonable counter attack to maintain their lead. The formal reveal of an Uncharted 4 or another secret project might do the trick, but I reckon a worldwide price cut of around £20-£30 would be much more effective.

Lowering prices might seem like a 'cheap' trick, but the consumers rarely complain. It would keep the PS4 on top for a while, as shown in this suitable picture
Lowering prices might seem like a ‘cheap’ trick, but the consumers rarely complain. It would keep the PS4 on top for a while in theory –  as shown physically in this suitable picture

The chances of it happening are slim at best – the PlayStation brand is currently helping Sony from hemorrhaging money, and therefore they would want to keep profit margins as high as possible. But lest we forget that it was the original PlayStation that did the unthinkable back at E3 1996 and 1997 by announcing massive undercuts compared to the Sega Saturn, and we all know how that worked out in the end. History might just repeat itself to get more customers onto Sony’s next-gen bandwagon.

Or at the very least, I would purchase one if its under 300 quid.

2)         The Revival Of Metroid

Part of Nintendo’s online only presentations this year is a 90-minute special dedicated to an unannounced 3DS project. Unless Nintendo pull a massive troll out of the hat and announce ‘NEW New Super Mario Bros U 3DS’, the smart money is that the project will see the revival of one of Nintendo’s IP’s that they haven’t touched for a while. And while the rumour mill is leaning towards a new Star Fox, I reckon it will finally be time to welcome Samus Aran and Metroid back into the fold after a four year absence.

Specifically, I would bet on the 3DS title being a new Metroid Prime, utilising the 3D visuals that have been all but ignored by developers. The logic seems sound; the transition from 2D gameplay to 3D environments on the Gamecube with the Prime trilogy was critically and commercially successful, so why would it not work on Nintendo’s newest handheld? They might even be able to incorporate some cross-platform wizardry with the WiiU.

But if that doesn’t happen, can we please get a new F-Zero? Please???

3)         Virtual Reality Gets Real-y Boring

Although I hope that it gets relegated to another special conference away from E3, I suspect that either Project Orpheus or the Oculus Rift will feature in some fashion during the developer conferences. I’ve always felt that VR is little more than a cheap gimmick, but it never appears to die out like so many other failed gaming peripherals over the years – and now that the Rift in particular has the massive financial resources of Facebook behind it, I reckon that plenty of the games on the show floor will be advertising some sort of VR integration. Sony in particular are usually pretty eager to show off new bits of software at E3 (remember that terribly boring demonstration of Wonderbook two years ago?) and I reckon we might get an awkward demonstration of the Orpheus this year.

4)         EA Pulls Out The Big Guns

On balance, EA pretty much had the surprise reveals all to themselves last year. Peggle 2 came out of nowhere, Mirror’s Edge 2 was finally confirmed, and amongst them all was the tiniest teaser of Star Wars: Battlefront. EA have said that Battlefront will feature as part of its proceedings this year (alongside Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Sims 4, FIFA 15 & Battlefield Hardline to name a few), and to be honest it is one of the games that I am much looking forward to.

What would really send me into a fit of joy however, would be any news regarding Mass Effect 4. Shepard’s epic saga set amongst BioWare’s incredible detailed universe is over…but the start of a new chapter running on the Frostbite Engine? It would have the potential to be a show stealer. We know that BioWare have at least started on the project, but footage is what I’m after.

Mass Effect created so many great memories...I have faith that BioWare could do it again
Mass Effect created so many great memories…I have faith that BioWare could do it again

5)         Can The Last Guardian Escape Development Hell?

Finally, we have the potential of a long running joke perhaps becoming reality. Let’s face it: should Half Life 3 ever become reality, then Valve simply do not need an announcement at E3 to broadcast the news. Square Enix have already confirmed that Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III won’t be at the show. The reluctance of Rockstar Games to ever appear in LA means that the announcement of a PC version of Grand Theft Auto V or a next-gen Red Dead Redemption sequel are pretty much off the table.

Which means that the only vapourware game with half a chance of having anything said about it is Team Ico’s The Last Guardian, which has been stuck in a state of development flux since 2007 (for reference, an entire generation of gaming has passed by since then). What has proved especially fascinating about the project is that Sony have fastidiously maintained that the game WILL come out, as opposed to other vapourware which simply remain silent about anything. It is highly unlikely that the game will now ever come out for PS3; but a PS4 version could be on the cards. Heck, they’ve only got to hold on for three more years and then they can release a tenth anniversary edition!

That’s just a few predictions that I have for this year amongst the confirmed games that will be present and making headlines including Sunset Overdrive, Metal Gear Solid V, Far Cry 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. What predictions do you have? Let me know in the Comments below!

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