10 June 2012

This Just In: E3 Edition

This week we're going to concentrate on the news coming out of this year's E3.  Many gaming bloggers have already commented that E3 was disappointing in their opinion.  I'm not really sure what they were hoping for or expecting.  MMO news was a little thin, but there wasn't much to expect regarding MMO's specifically.  Blizzard skips conventions like this in favor of their own BlizzCon, so nothing to be expected there.  Upcoming "AAA" titles like Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World are in their final beta phases so there isn't much new to see there either.  I suppose it would have been nice to see more from an upcoming title like The Elder Scrolls Online or WildStar but those games are far enough in the future that there is probably not too much new for their developers to show at this point.  In any case, I picked out the three E3 related stories that most caught my attention.

Wii U?  More like Wii Huh?

Of the three major console companies, Nintendo had the most to gain and the most to lose at this year's E3.  Sony and Microsoft had both previously confirmed that they would be making no announcements regarding a next generation console at this E3.  That left Nintendo as the only one to show off its next gen console, the Wii U.  Reactions to what Nintendo showed were mixed.  Keen and Graev were mostly positive about what they saw.  Others were largely negative, such as this Yahoo! blog.  As always, I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Nintendo has always been a company that has marched to the beat of its own drum, for better or for worse.  When they strike gold, as they did with the original Wii, they tend to do so in a big way.  Similarly when they fail, as with the N64, they also do so in a big way.  Nintendo survives the "lean" times of their big mistakes by riding on the backs of their established franchises.  No matter how badly they screw up, they seem to be able to ride the latest Super Mario or Zelda game through the tough times and emerge unscathed.  But as the competition for our gaming dollar gets ever tighter, and expectations get ever higher, can Nintendo still count on people buying their hardware simply to play the next installment of Zelda?  Time will tell, but right now that feels like a risky bet.

I'm Gonna Watch it!  A Gaming Geek Movie 

So this story has nothing to do with a game specifically, but it was still one of the coolest bits of news to come out of E3 for me.  Disney announced a new animated movie called Wreck It Ralph about a disgruntled video game villain.  Based on the bits from the trailer it promises to be full of cameos from well known video game characters and references to many of our favorite games and franchises.  I especially liked the "support group" meeting that I pulled this screenshot from.  I'm somewhat surprised to see a character like Bowser in there though as I'm sure Nintendo holds a high price for the use of its characters and images.

Needless to say, despite my strong dislike for anything and everything related to Disney, this will be a movie that I will pay money to see.  I don't go to the theater often.  And just to give you an idea of what that means, I have seen exactly TWO movies in the theater in the past four years, those being the Star Trek reboot and the recent Avengers.  So for me to say that I am willing to shell out (especially for a Disney movie) says a lot.  But when people show an interest in my hobbies, I'll show an interest in them.  And this movie looks like it will be a lot of fun.  Heck, maybe it will even end up being the first movie I take my son to go see in person.  He just celebrated his second birthday today.

Vivendi Selling Acti-Blizzard? 

Ok this story didn't come out of E3 specifically, but I did want to have something MMO related in this post, and this story did kind of shock me.  Gamesutra is reporting that Vivendi will discuss selling the Activision-Blizzard segment of its business at a shareholders meeting coming up later this month.  Apparently Vivendi is looking to shore up their assets and views Acti-Blizzard as something they can liquidate in order to create more capital.  Now I'm no expert in economics and would never pretend to be, so while I understand the potential desire to "sell high" and move an asset like Acti-Blizzard while it is of particularly high value, this move strikes me as a little bit of "penny wise, pound foolish." 

I would think that Blizzard is only going to remain profitable over the course of the next few years.  Diablo 3 broke PC sales records.  Mists of Pandaria will likely follow the previous World of Warcraft expansions to huge sales of its own.  Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm is on its way "Soon" (tm).  And there is also the pending Project Titan out there as well.  That's just the Blizzard side of things.  Over in the Activision house you still have the very profitable Call of Duty franchise among other titles.  Put it all together and I don't see how Acti-Blizzard isn't going to be an even more attractive commodity in a few years.  So why sell now?

So tomorrow I'll post the final installment of my "What IS Fun?" series.  This one will focus on modern PC games with an emphasis on online multiplayer.  Then later this week I'm hoping to get back to some more topical posts on MMO's, since that's why you all are here right?  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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