On the one hand, next week's Electronic Entertainment Expo could go down as a disappointment. Sony's not participating, Nintendo has said it won't show new hardware, EA isn't bothering with its annual press conference, and a procession of leaks and pre-announcements has us wondering just what true surprises we have in store.
On the other hand, gaming appears to be at a unique crossroads, and what we see and hear about next week could re-shape the future of the industry.
First, there's the general push toward cooperation between once-fierce competitors. Sony is (ever-so-slowly) coming around on cross-platform gaming, Nintendo is working with Microsoft to launch titles like Cuphead on the Switch, and the upcoming Microsoft streaming service has many of us hoping to stream Xbox One titles to the Switch someday soon.
Streaming is itself has tremendous potential for disruption, and this E3 will play a key role in how that goes. Google just announced details of its Stadia launch, and Microsoft is expected to "go big" at E3 with its own service (and possibly a new streaming-focused console). Judging by the system requirements and the advancement of internet infrastructure, streaming might finally be ready for prime time after a decade in the wild. Speaking of decades, our latest 10 Years Ago This Month column also provided a harsh reminder of how easy it is it get swept up in talk of paradigm shifts upending the industry.
STAT | 35 Mbps - Google's recommended connection speed for playing a game streaming through Stadia at 4K resolution.
STAT | 96.25 Mbps - The average fixed broadband speed in the US during the second and third quarters of 2018, according to Speedtest.
QUOTE | "Apple using the giant screen at one of its biggest annual keynote opportunities to display images of iconic hardware devices from Sony and Microsoft is a hell of a trip, when you think about it. It encapsulates nicely the fact that all three of these companies, though ostensibly rivals, are now cooperating on gaming-related endeavours in multiple different ways." - GamesIndustry.biz's Rob Fahey explores the wild new world of co-opetition in gaming.
QUOTE | "If we simply kinda lean back on the world that we've known for the past 25 years, we're at grave risk of having events around us overtake us. So, we have to show an open-mindedness and a desire to do things to an extent that we haven't had to in the past." - PlayStation division president and CEO Jim Ryan discusses Microsoft and Sony's new cooperative partnership as a sign of drastically changing attitudes in the industry.
QUOTE | "There is to my knowledge... no scenario where the PlayStation and Xbox platforms combine. The two platforms will remain separate, with their separate identities and brands and fans." - PlayStation division president and CEO Jim Ryan pumps the brakes on speculation about just how much further those attitudes will change.
STAT | 39% - The decline in GameStop's share price less than a day after it announced disappointing quarterly sales followed by an end to its practice of giving out shareholder dividends.
QUOTE | "My guess is that where this ends up is: motion controllers end up with half the market. And the other half still ends up with a more traditional game controller." - Then-EA CEO John Riccitiello reacts to the announcement of Microsoft's Kinect depth-sensing camera (then called Project Natal) 10 Years Ago This Month.
QUOTE | "[Crunch is] not something we see as having a place in modern development, and we work very hard to minimise it or remove it completely. With the live service, our policy on that is, if we're heading towards a milestone and work cannot be completed in time, we will move it to the next milestone rather than crunch the team to meet that [deadline]." - Playground Games' founder and creative director Ralph Fulton talks about the Forza Horizon developer's commitment to avoid burning out developers while still producing weekly content updates.
STAT | $112 - The average amount millennials (ages 22-38) in the U.S. spend on gaming, according to a report from SuperData.
QUOTE | "Developers have had seven years to educate themselves and be better. I had conversations about this two years after [Tropes vs Women in Video Games launched], and I said, 'We need to give them more time.' But it's been seven fucking years. There are no more excuses." - Anita Sarkeesian is frustrated to see a continued lack of representation of women in games.
QUOTE | "I think some companies point at Fortnite as sort of an excuse for why their titles didn't do well. But our view is, when titles are great, they do well, and when they're not as good, they don't do well... Put out something really great in entertainment, and people will show up for it." - Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick throws some shade at competitors who said their games' sales suffered from competition with Epic Games' Fortnite.