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Five ways E3 2013 can surprise and delight us

Jason Cross | June 10, 2013
It’ll take more than flashy graphics and franchise sequels to get our adrenaline going at the Electronic Entertainment Expo next week.

This year marks the first time Nintendo will not host a major E3 press conference. Instead it will rely on Nintendo Direct online streaming presentations to take its message to gamers. We expect Nintendo to announce a few new games during E3, and to showcase them during a special Wii U event on Tuesday morning. The next day, some 110 Best Buy stores across the U.S. and Canada will host the same demos so that you can try them yourself.

It's an intriguing approach, but it doesn't necessarily inspire confidence. If Nintendo doesn't show a handful of must-have new games alongside fresh entries in beloved Nintendo franchises, scheduled to hit the market before the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, it's going to have a really hard time competing for living rooms this generation.

While we're setting the bar for Nintendo, it's worth bringing up its portable business. With the rise of smartphones and tablets as gaming devices, Nintendo needs a compelling list of reasons why someone should buy a dedicated portable game console—and presumably pay more for its games than gaming apps on smartphones and tablets.

Bottom line: The Wii U is not nearly as powerful as the Xbox One or PlayStation 4. Many of the multiplatform games destined for those systems either won't make it to the Wii U or will offer a significantly downgraded experience. Nintendo's path is clear: Beat Sony and Microsoft on price and deliver the games. The gaming market is better off with a thriving Nintendo, but the world has changed—and Nintendo hardware must evolve beyond "the system with Mario, Zelda and unique controls" if it hopes to survive.

The PC keeps shining on
You know what PC gaming doesn't need? Another hyper-accurate mouse or super-customizable keyboard. Enough with the gimmicks and gadgets already. What PC gaming needs is to avoid playing second fiddle to home consoles. Show us the big, beautiful, quirky games that can exist only on the PC.

PC gaming is thriving because the barrier to entry for both developers and players is so low. Everyone owns a PC, and every PC is also its own development platform—meaning independent developers can create and publish their own games without having to worry about licensing fees, royalties, or restrictive legal agreements with Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.

The PC is also years ahead of consoles in realizing a fully digital distribution platform with multiple competing vendors. You can already acquire the biggest PC games without leaving your house. So why do consoles dominate E3? The answer—this year, at least—is shiny new hardware.

With all the attention on two new huge console launches, the PC might get lost in the shuffle. We've long since given up hope that Microsoft would use part of its E3 press event to talk about Windows gaming, but it would be nice if some of the other publishers did. Most of the really big new games launching with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will probably never see release on the PC (they're meant to sell new console systems, after all), but we'd love to be wrong about that.


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