E3 is underway thousands of miles away in LA, but thanks to the wonders of the interweb, we can keep fairly up to date on everything that’s going on. Whilst writing, Microsoft has had the first conference, and the Sony one should be underway soon. Early comments have been fired out left, right and centre by the tons of journalists that swarm around the conferences, but there is a theme I feel that has come out of the Microsoft one in many of the games they showcased; that is reinvention.
Looking at some of the games that are gaining both good and bad receptions, there appears to have been a clear attempt to start over again with many of the franchises shown this year. From Lara Croft’s bow skills to Master Chief’s floaty rail gun vaporising thingamajig, there is a clear desire for these considerably older franchises to start over in order to rekindle the success of their previously epic status. Halo and Tomb Raider might seem the obvious examples of this, but they are not alone. The Splinter Cell Blacklist trailer gave the impression of yet another twist in style for the now decade old franchise. The trailer saw Fisher back in his more traditional stealth suit outfit, whilst it also implied that many of the game mechanics from the last outing are to remain. Less of a complete overhaul, but still a blend of the early and more recent games seems to be evident in an attempt to keep the series fresh. At any rate, there has been quite clearly more effort to reinvent the Splinter Cell franchise when compared to Black Ops 2. The sequel to the biggest selling game of all time had many of the crowd supposedly zoning out at the familiarly predictable gameplay sequence which finished the show.
Because of this, IGN described Black Ops 2 as one of the top 5 ‘losers’ of the conference, which suggests to me that a lack of reinvention this year is a bad thing. (A debatable point undoubtedly as you can argue that if you have the bestselling franchise of all time, then the philosophy in making a sequel should be ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’) however that’s an issue for another day. The point here is that reinvention is a key part of Microsoft’s products this year. Xbox Music for instance is effectively a replacement for Zune, and GoW Judgement, whilst only giving us a glimpse, is apparently renewing itself in the form of a Baird based story.
Reinvention is not the only story to come out of the Microsoft Conference, but it seems to have been a key theme of many of their showcases this year. What lies in store for the other conferences still to come will no doubt have been revealed by the time this goes up, and it will be interesting to see if reinvention is as evident within Microsoft’s competitors.