E3 2011 Anticipation: EA, Capcom, Konami and Activision

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In just a few short days, the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo will kick off with press conferences, pre-show parties, and more hype than a Star Wars press junket.

After the dust settles and the new console announcement(s) are over, which third-party publishers will earn our attention? What surprises (or lack thereof) will the world’s biggest third-party developers/publishers bring to the show?

E3 Predictions: A-List Third-Party Developers

Electronic Arts: They haven’t come true yet, but I keep having visions of a three-dimensional Dead Space. Obviously, there are only two machines (PS3 and Nintendo 3DS) that could power a game of this caliber, a limitation that would make it somewhat of an exclusive release. This could deter EA from heading in this direction. In the end, I don’t think EA is going to care. I suspect we’ll see Dead Space in 3D very soon--possibly at E3.

On the Nintendo 3DS, expect EA to make up for its bare-bones Madden NFL with a more significant offering. EA will probably marginally upgrade the game's graphics and heavily adjust the 3D effects, since the first iteration drew criticism for being either too bland or too (literally) nauseating.

The biggest news is likely to involve the Kinect. Having sold more than 10 million units worldwide, Microsoft has proven that it is capable of producing and selling a controller-free motion device. Few developers, including EA, will be able to resist cashing in on that success this year. Expect two or three Kinect-related announcements.

Will EA continue to support the PS Move? Sure--with another Tiger Woods. I would be stunned if EA invested serious capital in a PS Move exclusive. That isn’t likely to happen.

Capcom: Warning: Capcom may be so busy hyping the next Devil May Cry that it forgets to hype Resident Evil 6. Just kidding! This is Capcom, aka the biggest hype machine in the world. If E3 2011 comes and goes without a single RE6 teaser, I will be shocked.

Also, expect Capcom to finally make an announcement regarding the proposed (but apparently abandoned) PSP version of Resident Evil. All things likely, that game will be shifted to the NGP and slated for a 2012 release. (Don’t be surprised if Capcom lists the release date as 201X--the company looooooves doing that with new Resident Evils.)

Speaking of handheld entertainment, my gut tells me that Marvel vs. Capcom will finally come to a portable game system. My money is on the PSP’s successor. However, considering Capcom’s anger toward Sony, the 3DS might be a more realistic home for Marvel vs. Capcom.

Since Devil May Cry has already been announced, expect Capcom to spend most of E3 promoting its release.

Konami:

As always, Konami’s E3 booth should be filled with familiar franchises (another DDR? You bet!), quirky surprises like Elebits, and one or more games within the Metal Gear Solid and Silent Hill franchises.

Konami might not have a lot of announcements this year since the new Silent Hill and the next two Metal Gears (MGS: Rising and the 3DS port of Snake Eater) have already been announced.

However, Hideo Kojima has experienced extreme interest in both the 3DS and Kinect technology. While a 2011 release may be out of the question for either project, Konami loves a good tease. There’s a good chance that the company will join the Nintendo and/or Microsoft press conferences for a peek at the future.

Konami is also guaranteed to release new trailers for Rising, Snake Eater, and Silent Hill 8.

Activision: Do you remember Blur? It's the game that was once boasted as the Call of Duty of racing. If not, don’t fret: after playing through the weak beta and the even weaker finished product, most gamers were eager to forget about this awful release.

In fact, gamers have been forgetting about most of Activision’s games. With Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk temporarily out of the picture, the company is down to just one major franchise: Call of Duty. This is a huge problem, but don’t expect Activision to remedy this issue just yet.

Next year and beyond, I suspect that Activision will have learned its lesson and will get back to producing quality and innovative products--the kind that made the publisher famous. However, this year it is highly unlikely that Activision will announce any new, mind-blowing franchises. Instead, expect the company to focus on Call of Duty, Prototype, Spider-Man, and other profitable movie/comic licenses.

Other A-Listers: Ubisoft is going to have a great E3, but the company has left little to the imagination. After Assassin’s Creed Revelations, Driver: San Francisco, Rayman Origins, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier and Rocksmith, what could there be left to announce? Beyond Good & Evil? I think it’s time we stopped getting our hopes up on that one. Besides, the next BG&E was already announced, so its appearance at E3 would not be much of a surprise.

THQ and 2K Games are in a similar situation. I expect THQ to announce new games for the uDraw peripheral (if anyone cares) and at least a couple of Kinect projects. 2K Games, on the other hand, will likely stick to hyping BioShock: Infinite and other titles that have already been announced.

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Louis Bedigian
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