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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.

Indies get their due
Independent games are experiencing a renaissance. The abundance of cheap, powerful hardware, better tools, and easy digital distribution has helped independent game makers thrive. Today more than ever, a handful of developers with little funding can create a game that takes the world by storm and competes directly with super-size franchise games. Think I'm exaggerating? I have two words for you: Angry Birds.

It's time for the big console makers to embrace the independent games movement. They need to do more than make one-off deals with indie developers that are already established. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have to court indie developers by making their platforms easier and cheaper to develop for, and—perhaps most importantly—giving indies control over their own economics. Let them set the price, change it freely, and update their game as often as they want. Let them explore new economic models of their own devising. Make it simple for a small studio with a 5-person development staff can cheaply and easily add Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U to its list of supported platforms.

We hope E3 shows us not just a bunch of great new independent games, but delivers great news for independent game developers looking to break into the living room.

Make us believe in new control methods
On a purely technical level, Kinect is pretty cool. The new Kinect included with the Xbox One looks like it could be way cool. Sony's PlayStation Eye and Move controllers held a lot of promise, and the new Eye for the PS4 is more promising still. But as much as we like these things for all their technical gee-whiz appeal, they just haven't delivered for gamers.

Maybe it's simply a fact that the best way to experience most games is always going to be pressing buttons, wiggling sticks, and squeezing triggers. Maybe fancy cameras, microphones, touchpads, and accelerometers can't really add that much for gaming enthusiasts. We hold out hope that the technology simply hasn't been good enough to meet our demands yet. Maybe this is the year where the quality of the hardware and sophistication of the software is finally such that, no matter what kind of player you are and what kind of game you're playing, there will be something useful and fun, truly fun, about these alternative inputs.

We want to believe in the Kinect, the PlayStation Eye, and their ilk. We want them to make all our games better. And there's no better time to convince us than the dawn of a new generation of consoles. Let's hope Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo take this opportunity to knock our socks off.

 

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