E3 2015 just wrapped up yesterday, and it was definitely a busy one. There’s been lots of announcements across the board about new game series, returning favorites, and a host of new features across the next generation of consoles (including backwards compatibility for XBox One! Gamers will now be able to play their XBox 360 games on the new console without having to buy them again.)
As someone who’s still trying to process everything I’ve seen over the last few crazy days, here’s a couple of key things that come to mind in the way of overarching trends:
Nostalgia played a big role in the conference this year. Many of the best received announcements were reworked favorites (such as the Final Fantasy VII remake that will be developed from the ground up for the PS4) or bundled favorites from the past (the Rare bundle that Microsoft announced with classics such as Banjo-Kazooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day). Reworking old classics is a fantastic tip of the hat to gamers by these companies. To quote Phil Spencer from Microsoft: “You never forget your first game.” Seeing your first game come to life again with new graphics is like getting to relive it and love it all over again.
Both Microsoft and Sony also took time out of their briefings to speak to the unique Indie development opportunities that exist for gamers and developers. Indie developers, who are usually small teams creating games without significant funding from big game publishers, have the opportunity to push boundaries on what gaming is and can be. So this move by the larger companies shows that there’s a lot of unique offerings that weren’t on the table even a few years ago. It’s great to see game companies working with these smaller developers to really explore and help shape the future of gaming.
One of the returning themes we’ve seen over the last few years is the adoption of VR / Mixed Reality gaming. Everyone seems to be working on a way to integrate this new technology into everyday gaming, and this year there were more vendors speaking to it than ever. Microsoft announced in their Monday briefing that they’ve partnered not only with Oculus Rift, but with Valve VR as a way to start bringing VR gaming to consumers via the XBox One controller, and through Windows 10 in early 2016.
Sony’s Morpheus also made an appearance, along with with a host of indie VR developers who are bringing their own flare to the game. AntVR had a function that allowed you to operate the VR off of your smartphone, while the Vuzix iWear Video Headphones will work with any type of HDMI video.
Whether you’re into the small unique offerings of the indie developers, the future of VR gaming, or the gorgeous graphics and cinematic quality of these next generation games, the next year is going to have something for everyone. As the industry and audience continues to grow by leaps and bounds year after year, we’re only going to see better offerings and more opportunities with what this medium can do.