Monday, May 30, 2011

E3 2011 Predictions

To think it has been well over a year since Third Rate Minion appeared online, and one of the first major things we did was create a series of videos regarding E3 2010, including predictions and impressions.

This year, we are doing the same thing, but now we are much more cohesive and prepared. Okay, maybe not cohesive, but at least we prepared! Below you can see our thoughts regarding the big three and the majority of third parties who will be attending the show. We shot these videos a week ago, so any announcements since then were not taken into account.

During E3, we will be marking down correct or incorrect predictions, which we will show off with each impressions video. Also, expect us to give more insight on game announcements throughout the week of E3. Not to mention more Third Rate Game Play and Game On videos!



This year Microsoft will be the biggest competitor walking in. Last year, the company faced great scrutiny with its canned Kinect demos and absolutely flabbergasting display with Cirque du Soleil's presentation. However, without any major Wii game or Move product to hold it back, the masses saw Kinect and have since bought over ten million of them! Not to mention the new Xbox 360 has since accelerated the system past the Wii's sales on a monthly basis! Needless to say, Microsoft is walking tall right now.

But that does not mean they are going to repeat last year this time. With casual buyers now on their side, we predict that Microsoft will head toward the more accustomed 360 player. Yes, Gears of War 3 and Modern Warfare 3 will delight those gamers, but now Microsoft will aim to pull them into the Kinect market.

Tony predicts that Kinect compatibility will become the norm for "hardcore" games, particularly shooters which are, in some way, enhanced by the Kinect interface, but Alex is more inclined to believe that exclusive Kinect games are on the way moreso than enhanced products. We should expect Kinect Sports 2, Dance Central 2, and a number of more casual products using Kinect, but other large Kinect projects will be shown, including last year's TGS reveals: Project Draco, Codename D, and efforts from Sega and Capcom.

In terms of outlandish predictions, Tony feels a Rare Hardcore Kinect game will see the light of day. Alex expects a new Harmonix product to arrive, but whether it is for MS or not remains to be seen. A Halo Remake has been hinted at, but at least one new Halo game will appear, regardless of whether it is a remake or not. A Lionhead project might be teased, but it might be a little too early for a game announcement. More Media Content is to be expected, especially with Skype's acquisition.

It is believed that there will be ten non-sequel IPs from MS this E3 using Kinect, and while one has, at this posting, been proven false, this is the list we ran with at the recording.

Alan Wake “Night Springs” for Kinect
Hole in the Wall
Frontier Roller Coaster Game
Codename Kingdoms (Non-Playable)
Star Wars Kinect
Forza World (Kinect-enhanced)
A “AAA Shooter” (MS Vancouver)

We do think Microsoft is the type to do projects without others knowing, simply because of the massive amount of interconnections and smaller companies it has formed over time. However, there are plenty of hints as to the games coming out, including Kinect Me services and a number of light-gun-based ventures. I expect a few more games to fill out the lists here, but the biggest game for Microsoft will likely be Halo and/or Kinect-related.


Sony has been in bad shape since the beginning of this generation, but since its rebooting of PS3's image and the continued support by Japanese developers, Sony has grown in mindshare these last couple years. The PSP had a major resurgence in Japan thanks to Monster Hunter, but elsewhere, it was much bleaker compared to the DS, and seeing Nintendo releasing its newest handheld this year, it is now time for Sony to follow with its venture.

The NGP, the Next Generation Portable, will be the company's core focus. Unfortunately, what with the earthquake and continued financial uncertainty in Japan, it might be hard to open a handheld out with a high pricetag. That is why we think the two-SKU concept will help, particularly when Sony announces that one of them will cost just over what the 3DS currently costs. A new WipeOut, LittleBitPlanet, Modnation Racers, and Uncharted game will fill the launch window greatly, and new IPs, including Little Deviants and Smart As will increase Sony's output when the device launches. We believe the biggest push, however, will be the immediate support of Thirty Parties: Call of Duty from Activision, Lost Planet or an equivalent by Capcom, and one major product from Square-Enix. The launch date might be this year, but if they are hush hush about its release date, do not expect it until March 2012. Either way, a Fall 2011 release in one region is a lock.

Outside of new hardware, Sony will have Resistence 3, Ratchet and Clank All 4 One, Uncharted 3, the newly-announced Starhawk, and Twisted Metal from our roster of already-known games. Sly Cooper 4 would not be unheard of, what with the teaser video in the HD Collection released this year. The Last Guardian most likely will slip into 2012, with the Ico/Shadow of the Colossus Collection releasing this Fall. The PSP Remaster Series will be discussed, and the unfortunate PSN debacle will be briefly mentioned at the beginning of the show or not at all.

Move will remain a side idea for the moment, but it will be demonstrated in at least two games on-stage. Sorcery will be back and ready for release, or completely revamped and redesigned. It has not been shown at all since E3 2010, after all.

Oh, and no Kevin Butler this year. Hopefully.


Despite coming out last year as the best of the three, Nintendo fumbled over the last year compared to Microsoft and (in Japan) Sony. Yes, Donkey Kong Country Returns was a great success, as was the third-party exclusive Disney Epic Mickey. However, Wii Party and Mario Sports Mix failed terribly in America, and absolutely no Wii games from them outside of Sports Mix damned the Wii saleswise for the first half of 2011. Meanwhile, the 3DS launched with a desolate launch window of games; even though third parties were given the chance by Nintendo to fill the gap, barely any major releases have graced the device since late March. Combined with Pokemon launching weeks beforehand, and the high price tag compared to the DSi, it has not sold very well at all. Seeing this, Nintendo is hobbling into this E3, but thankfully, it has plenty to unveil.

The company's biggest unveiling, and arguably the biggest question mark this E3, is the company's new console. Dubbed Project Cafe, it is believed via some rumors that the console will have a screen located on the controllers, allow for wireless game-video streaming, be HD 1080p, and have an enhanced online structure that people have been wanting for a long while. With an expected 2012 release, post April, the console will likely have only a few games to demonstrate its gameplay techniques, so anticipate tech demos on the show floor. Nintendo will have major games to show with it, though, and we believe Pikmin 3 and another Mario title will fit that requirement greatly. A new Super Smash Brothers is asking too much. However, if at least one new IP is unveiled with the new console, we would not be surprised. Third parties will have their usual "this device is great and innovative" schpeal, but I also expect Nintendo to pull what they did with the 3DS: announce at least two or three major third-party projects in the works for Cafe. Just logos, maybe teasers. Either way, fans will walk away surprised one way or another.

And yet, the new console will only be some of the focus for them. Nintendo still has Wii releases despite its end in sight. Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Kirby will see releases this year, but we feel that The Last Story and Xenoblade will also have an appearance (and if not both, just one for this year). Wii Play: Motion and Mystery Case Files will appear and be playable, but in a minimal stance. Pandora's Tower is almost definitely staying in Japan. Outside of these games, I see perhaps one or two unannounced Wii games to appear this Fall season, but not something as big as Zelda, though with the 25th Anniversary this year...

...expect a 3DS bundle. Ocarina of Time 3D launches mere weeks after E3, so anticipate a trailer and maybe a single kiosk, but nothing extraordinary. However, a special 3DS bundle featuring both OoT3D and a 3DS could be a good combination for this holiday. Then again, with GREZZO working on OoT3D for the most part, could the handheld Zelda team be working on something else for this Fall season? Maybe.

For 3DS, we will see the slew of games which were seen in video only last E3, including Paper Mario 3D, Mario Kart 3D, Animal Crossing 3D, and Star Fox 64 3D. Animal Crossing might just be another teaser trailer, especially with Mario Kart filling in the casual space. Super Mario 3D will be heavily shown this E3 and will be a combination of Mario Galaxy and old school Mario games. Do not expect a New Super Mario Bros. game for 3DS until next year at earliest. Kid Icarus: Rising will also be heavily shown, and someone will most likely demonstrate the game at the Press Conference to show how it has improved over the last year in development.

The eShop will be launching the night before Nintendo's conference, so expect videos and maybe even demos to appear on 3DS worldwide post-conference. Nintendo will not have major software associated with it, yet, but independent games, 3D Classics, and Virtual Handheld and Netflix products will be explained fully at the conference. And before I forget: NO NEW 3DS MODEL! People complaining about the model will have to wait until next year to get a confirmation of one, if that.


If we were to take the time to discuss each third party in detail, you would go mad trying to read it! So we will be a bit briefer about them.

2K (TakeTwo)
Bioshock Infinite will be the big focus. XCOM might be there in a different form. The Darkness II is guarranteed to show. Grand Theft Auto V will likely be kept hidden until the summer, as Rockstar loves to unveil games outside of the usual E3 deluge.

Activision Blizzard
Modern Warfare 3 will be the big game for Activision, but other Call of Duty games will likely fill the lineup as well. Skylanders: Spyro's Big Adventure will have a large focus, as well, as Activision will attempt to jump start Spyro as part of a bigger new franchise of both games and toys. Prototype 2 is Radical's last chance for survivial. Bungie's project will be an equally large focus, especially as it is rumored to be an MMO. Blizzard will not show.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the big game for them, no doubt about it. Rage will be big as well, and rightfully so, making Bethesda quite a competitor for Game of the Show. Duke Nukem will not show on account of its release, and Tango might not have a game out, but a teaser is expected.

Capcom heads have already said not to be hyped for this E3, but there are plenty of unreleased games to show off and enjoy. Resident Evil: Revelations will be at Nintendo's booth, but Operations Raccoon City will be there. A trailer for Street Fighter X Tekken will show, and there is some possibility for a Super Marvel Vs Capcom 3, thought doubtful. Dragon's Dogma will be the biggest internal project, and Megaman Legends 3 will not be at the show, particularly due to the Prototype Edition's delay. No DmC outside of a teaser trailer.

EDF EDF EDF, or Earth Defense Force. Outside of the massive bug-invasion shooter, D3 will publish White Knight Chronicles II and probably small projects many are not aware of.

Disney dropped a lot of staff last year, even with Disney Epic Mickey's success in America. We can expect Cars 2 to appear, as well as the LittleBigPlanet and Lego-game inspired Disney Universe. Social games will be big for Disney, perhaps even a Marvel MMO? An outlandish belief is another Epic Mickey, but we've seen weirder things happen before.

EA wants the Modern Warfare crowd, so Battlefield 3 will be the biggest product there. Star Wars: The Old Republic will probably have some clout there, but Bioware's Mass Effect 3 will be more noticed by certain fans. Insomniac's Project will have a teaser, but it won't be ready this year.

After slaughtering Hudson, Konami is probably preparing for releases from the company, so do not expect a Hudson title unless Konami kept production with those 3DS products after its acquisition. Silent Hill: Downpour will be pretty large, but Metal Gear Solid: Rising should outdo it in the hype category. However, rumors speculate that Rising has shifted developers and might miss a 2011 release as a result. Peace Walker for PS3 is also rumored. A teaser for a new Castlevania from MercurySteam would not be out of the unexpected, and for some reason, Alex feels a Contra for the 3DS is in the works.

Star Wars Kinect. Maybe something with TellTale Games. Not much else comes to mind.

Namco Bandai
Namco Bandai is in an odd place, what with few franchises to sell to gamers nowadays. Soul Calibur V will be the company's big one, with a trailer expected this week. Ridge Racer Unbounded is an attempt to Burnout the series, but we are not entirely optimistic about it. Tales of Graces F and the 3DS Tales games are going to be Namco USA's attempt to revitalize the company's RPG market; if they fail, we expect another hibernation for localizations.

Sega will be pushing a number of titles, but Sonic Generations and any variants of it will be the big push. Binary Domain and maybe Yakuza: The End will fill the mature gap for games, with a Kinect horror game to go all the way. Sonic 4: Episode II will not be playable but will have a trailer.

Square-Enix had been hit this year financially with the failure of Final Fantasy XIV Online. From Eidos, expect Hitman: Absolution and the Tomb Raider reboot to be the biggest focus, although Deus Ex might drop by for a little while. From the Japanese side, Kingdom Hearts 3D, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and maybe something Dragon Quest related will be at the show. No XIII Versus. There is a chance Final Fantasy Type-0 will be finally announced for NA though.

The only major title there will be Ninja Gaiden III. Surprise me, TK!

THQ has been in the midst of change over the last few years, and while it has not been entirely successful, at least the company is growing toward unique IPs and more well-designed projects. For one, the company is releasing Metro 2033, a sequel to the niche shooter, and we should expect a Homefront 2 Teaser of some sort. Saint’s Row: The Third will be the company's biggest project this E3, and The Devil's Third will appear from at least a trailer.

Assassin’s Creed Revelations will clearly be the company's big game this year, being the fourth game in the series this generation. Driver: San Francisco will likely make a return this year but in a more playable form. Rayman Origins as a retail title will also be highlighted by the company. Child of Eden will be demonstrated once more, but with the game more complete, we should expect a full understanding of what the final product will contain. If I Am Alive does not appear in any way this year, then we believe that the game is in deep trouble.

Warner Bros
To be blunt, Warner Brothers will heavily push Batman: Arkham City, along with other projects: Bastion and Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster from Double Fine.


And with that, we look toward E3 with a mixture of tension and delight. Will Microsoft win over the cynical hardcore gamer with its shooter Kinect products? Will Sony's NGP lineup and price make it a viable competitor against the 3DS and iProducts? Will Nintendo's new console and software lineup brings favor back to the company from its fanbase?

All, or at least some, will be unveiled next week!

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