E3 Anticipation: Capcom, Konami and Disney Interactive Studios

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By Louis Bedigian GameZone.com

Capcom

Now that Marvel vs. Capcom 3 has been unveiled, the acclaimed Street Fighter and Resident Evil developer may have already made its biggest announcement. Capcom could choose to use E3 as a place to show off new trailers, present a hands-on demo, reveal significant gameplay changes, or merely confirm which playable characters will be in the game.

That alone would be a solid E3 for Capcom, but I expect a little bit more. Over the last few years, Capcom has used the show to offer the first glimpse and/or the first playable demo of several niche franchise sequels (such as Moto GP) and new Xbox Live/PSN/WiiWare games (such as Flock!, Bionic Commando, and Mega Man 8). I doubt E3 2010 will be any different.

As far as big announcements are concerned, Devil May Cry is the franchise to keep an eye on. Yes, Capcom could go back to Onimusha, which was once a huge hit for them, or return to the ill-fated Dino Crisis series. But that is very unlikely to happen. Capcom went back to Final Fight, Bionic Commando and Mega Man because of their famed legacies; sadly, DC and Onimusha’s last adventures were anything but memorable.

DMC, on the other hand, is still a very successful franchise with a fairly loyal fan base. The last sequel came in 2008, which means that Capcom has had two years to work on another. While I wouldn’t count on a 2010 release date, the fifth DMC shouldn’t be more than 18 months away – assuming, of course, that Capcom plans to continue the series this generation.

Resident Evil is obviously a bigger franchise than DMC. I would not be surprised to hear Capcom confirm the next chapter with a vague teaser trailer (just as it did with RE4 and RE5), but doing so could detract from Dead Rising 2.

Accordingly, Capcom will refrain from starting the Resident Evil 6 hype machine, and instead focus its survival/horror energy on Dead Rising’s follow-up.

Konami

Oh, Konami, the house that built the Metal Gear Solid trailer. If you’re a fan of the series, you know just how significant the trailers are. They entice us, excite us, and make us spend years anticipating every sequel to this solid franchise. It happened with MGS2 and again with MGS4. Things got so crazy that, up until the last game was released in 2008, I couldn’t attend an E3 without Konami unveiling a new trailer. (This, on top of the trailers released at various Japanese and European events.)

Will 2010 be the year that Konami finally unveils the first gameplay footage – in the form of a story-filled trailer, of course – for the Raiden-starring Metal Gear Solid: Rising? I say yes. Konami hasn’t announced a release date, but it’s bound to arrive in 2011 (or if we’re really unlucky, 2012). If it arrives next year, the publisher will only have 18 months to ignite our anticipation with a plethora of promising trailers. That’s half the time Hideo Kojima spent hyping the last MGS, which (gasp) could mean that Raiden’s adventure won’t be due for a very long time … or that Konami has a lot of catching up to do.

Besides MGS, Silent Hill is another big Konami franchise that has become a staple of Konami’s E3 display. But with Shattered Memories being so new, and with its gameplay taking the series in a different direction, it may be too soon for another sequel to be announced. This isn’t your typical survival/horror series, however. Similar to the way Activision treats the Call of Duty franchise, Konami has been swapping developers for the Silent Hill sequels and prequels. It’s a risky strategy that could (and unfortunately has) impaired the quality of the series. But it also allows Konami to develop multiple sequels simultaneously, reducing the time in between each release.

What about the 3DS, Natal and PS Move? I expect Konami to be a huge supporter of the 3DS. In fact, if the technology is any good, you can bet that Hideo Kojima is already experimenting with the new handheld. The same goes for Natal and PS Move. But while I expect Konami to have at least one eye-catching game ready for the 3DS’ launch (whenever that is), I suspect the publisher’s best and most creative Natal and PS Move games won’t be released until 2011 or later. But we’ll hopefully get a glimpse of them at E3.

Other than that, expect more Yu-Gi-Oh! games to invade as many platforms as possible.

Disney Interactive Studios

This month, Toy Story 3 will conquer movie theaters without breaking a sweat. In the gaming world, however, Buzz and Woody are destined to take a backseat to Mickey Mouse. As the star of the unlikely Epic Mickey (developed by Junction Point Studios), Mickey Mouse is on the cusp of gaming greatness. No matter what the publisher brings to E3, this will be the most talked about Disney game of the show.

However, I do expect Disney to make a couple solid announcements involving games that have nothing to do with its own successful licenses. Look at Split/Second: there is nothing “Disney” about that game. It’s barely “Touchstone” or “ABC.” But Disney wants to be a serious player in the game industry, and that cannot be accomplished solely with the likes of Pirates of the Caribbean. Thus, Disney has started to explore avenues of game development that are outside its comfort zone. Which makes me wonder: what kind of game will the studio publish next?

It may be too soon for Disney to announce anything for Natal or PS Move (outside of Toy Story 3, which will support Sony’s motion controller), or the Nintendo 3DS. But if I had to bet on which of the three I expected Disney to support the strongest in the next 12 months, I’d pick Natal. Natal is new, it’s different, and it’s getting a big push toward families. Microsoft clearly wants it to be a Wii killer that steals all of Nintendo’s hardcore and casual gamer fans. Disney is very likely to take advantage of that by developing several motion-based games that coincide with its own major movie releases.

And maybe, just maybe, something to coincide with the Toy Story 3 DVD in November.

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Louis Bedigian
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