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Discussion Points — The Fallout From Gamescom

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We will begin by apologising for failing to post up a Discussion Points article last week. Confusion reigned about the topic and who was to be involved and, by the time things were sorted, Wednesday had passed. This time around, we thought that we would take a step back from the higher-concept ideas of previous articles in this series in favour of focussing on a topic of immediate relevance: last week’s Gamescom event and all the news and impressions that sprung from it. Taking part in this discussion are Damien Lawardorn, Nathan Hughes and Troy Hallin.

Damien: It can’t be doubted that Gamescom is a major event in the gaming calendar, being arguably the biggest to take place in Europe, so it’s definitely worth our attention. I find it a bit of a shame that it’s not as heavy on news and announcements as E3, as Europe is actually quite a different market from the American one. It’s a part of the world where games based on soccer and racing find their niche, though the blockbusters are still just as acclaimed there, too. One thing that I really liked is that most of the exhibitors at the event really took notice of that and used it to showcase games that are more on that niche side of things.

I’m talking about the announcements of XCOM: Enemy Within, Fable: Legends, Child of Light and LittleBigPlanet HUB. They’re all relatively unique games that, I think, would have been likely to have been lost in the shuffle of E3, but had their time in the sun at Gamescom. But perhaps I’m simply overstating those cultural differences. Perhaps gamers aren’t so very different in their tastes regardless of where they come from and perhaps the publishers should have brought more major projects to be unveiled at the event. What do you guys think?

Nathan: I agree with you that Gamescom was the perfect place to reveal all these games. While it was good to see the usual triple A titles, it’s nice to see games that are not quite as popular as say Call Of Duty or Assassin’s Creed get the same level of treatment as the major “blockbuster” games. I always saw Gamescom as Europe’s own game exhibition and, although separate from E3, it actually does compliment the event. Think of Gamescom as the epilogue to E3. We were given more details and as well as new information on games. It was satisfying, and I believe that releasing more information on “major releases” wouldn’t be a good strategy. Instead, there was a bit of focus was on indie games or “niche” games, which I applauded. Gamescom is the perfect stage to showcase indie releases as it works well as almost the “final chapter” of E3, yet it still stands on its own two feet as a good games expo.

Many of the games shown were tailored to suit the European market. The massive focus on FIFA, Gran Turismo 6 and multiplayer shooters is capturing the attention of European gamers who primarily just buy three or four games a year, and there’s nothing wrong with Gamescom focusing on them for a bit. Gamescom was great because it had a little something for everyone. Indie games, footie, racers, new releases and exciting news; Gamescom had it all.

However, what did you guys think about the PS4 release date? Good decision or could it be an impending failure for Sony to pick November 15th?

Troy: Oh, its definitely a power move to release PS4 on November 15th. Think about it, they get two major goes at a release. All of the people who are eager to get their hands on it on the release date will get it on November 15th, but then they have the others who maybe missed their chance on a pre order who will pick it up around the holiday season when the next round comes about. Double the pleasure, double the fun.

It’s natural for Gamescom to focus on European players, the vast majority of the people there were probably European players so they want to focus on them for a bit. It’s all about location, and game developers aren’t shy to this either as they will choose what they show off based on their target audience. I was stoked to see the influx in indie titles being announced, though. Most people know by now that I love indie games, so to see indie developers getting love from PlayStation especially makes me excited. It just means that they (the indie developers) have a larger platform to get their games out there and makes it easier for people to add to and grow the industry. Video games are still an emerging market, and the more people we add that contribute to the market, the faster it will grow, and that makes it beneficial to everyone involved. I love the direction gaming is taking, and with all of the titles spoiled at Gamescom, we can look forward to a very awesome end to 2013 and a great segue into 2014 for gaming.

Any games pique your interest and scream out as “OMG I’m going to buy that as soon as its out”?

Damien: When it comes to the question of the PS4’s release date, I’m inclined to disagree with you, Troy, about there being two sales spikes. It’s far more likely that the uptake will be fairly steady post-release. In fact, I’d anticipate for the apparent excitement around the Internet to not translate directly into sales as many gamers wait until next year and a wider array of triple-A games to pick up the console. Don’t get me wrong, the sales will be respectable, and releasing it prior to Christmas will help somewhat, but I feel that gamers are going to be wary, remembering the doom-and-gloom articles about the future of consoles from earlier in the year. Odds are that I’ll be completely wrong, but so be it.

Moving on, I have to say that the only game that really garnered my interest from Gamescom was XCOM: Enemy Within. I absolutely adored the base game, and reading about all of the enhancements and additions that are included in this expansion got me a little giddy. I definitely will pick it up, but when I will is up in the air. Strong odds are I’ll either be chipping away at either GTA V or something else in my backlog when November 12 rolls around. Some of the indie titles announced at Sony’s presser did actually seem really interesting, but as I can’t hook my console up to the Internet, it’s pretty worthless for me to be getting too excited by them until such a time as I can buy/play them.

Nathan: For me, I think the indie games sold me at Gamescom. Hotline Miami 2, Murasaki Baby, Rime.… There’s lots of fun titles here for the PS4 that I’m eager to play. Like Damien, I can’t wait to see the new expansion pack for XCOM. I’ve been addicted to it every since it come out for free on Playstation Plus, and I’d love to see what new stuff 2K can throw into the game. Finally, Minecraft coming to PS3/PS4/PS Vita will prove to be something interesting. Playing Minecraft on a handheld while on a bus, waiting in the doctor’s office or just waiting around will potentially solve my boredom for life.

Damien: Let’s change gears for a second and talk about Microsoft. My feelings regarding their press conference were pretty similar to those that I felt about Sony’s: a resounding ‘meh.’ Fable has never intrigued me, and the announcement of an online iteration only further dulls that interest. I’m not a fan of soccer as a sport, and even less in simulating it in a video game, so having FIFA free with every pre-order is no incentive to me. As for The Fighter Within… I’m tempted to laugh. Sure, it’s likely to work far better than Fighters Uncaged ever did, but it’s still not going to come close to attending Muay Thai training lessons, so, yeah. It was a pretty weak showing from both sides of the coin, and it’s got me kind of antsy for TGS next month. Japan is where Microsoft really fell short this generation, in spite of trying to attack the region early, so it has me wondering whether they’ll be taking the same approach or if the house that Gates built will leave Sony and Nintendo to duke it out in their home territory.

All things considered I have to say that, speaking from a European perspective, Microsoft may have walked away with a slight advantage thanks to the FIFA deal, but it won’t have much of an impact either way. The “war” rolls on without any clear winner emerging just yet. Agree? Disagree?

Nathan: I agree with your point about MS and the slight advantage they gained. As an Irish gamer, I think that Microsoft are stepping up with trying to appeal to the EU Market. While I agree that the overall conference wasn’t anything amazing, the Xbox One preorder deal where you get FIFA 14 for free is certainly interesting. A lot of gamers over here focus on Call Of Duty and FIFA as their main games (with a few other triple-A games thrown in here and there) and getting FIFA 14 for free as well as dedicated servers for Call Of Duty: Ghosts can tempt a lot of people to invest in the Xbox One. As for me personally, Sony still have me sold with their value for money and great indie titles.

Damien: To sum up, I have to say that I walked away from Gamescom feeling a little disappointed. I just expected more from the show. More announcements, more excitement… something more along the lines of E3 than PAX, considering it is Europe’s biggest gaming conference. I should have known to temper those expectations, but sometimes, we can’t help but let out imaginations run away with ourselves. That’s all I have to say about the show. Any final thoughts from you guys?

Troy:  I don’t feel that any one developer walked away from the conference ahead of another. Granted it appeared that Microsoft was trying to cater more towards the European market and I will agree that there is a distinct possibility that they may let Sony and Nintendo have Japan, but if they do I believe they are missing out on a huge market. Instead of avoiding Japan, they need to assess their issues with the Japanese market and attack it head on. I am excited by most all announcements, but some things just didn’t wow me from all parties. I am looking forward to seeing what develops from all three of the companies this coming weekend at PAX Prime to see if there will be any new developments.  But that’s just my $0.02.

Nathan: I was a little disappointed by Gamescom and was expecting a lot more surprise triple-A announcements or even a reboot of a franchise.  Showcasing the indie games was nice and we saw more of the usual annual franchises but I just expected more. Overall, it was just OK. Nothing amazing but certainly not awful. However, like Troy said, PAX Prime is coming up so let’s hope we see something special this weekend.

Well that’s it, folks. Just a little bit about what some of our writers thought about Gamescom this year. What did you think about Gamescom? Do you agree with us? PAX Prime is coming up in just a couple of days, so make sure you sit tight to see our coverage and thoughts as we move through one of the biggest events of the year.

Damien Lawardorn
Damien Lawardorn is an aspiring novelist, journalist, and essayist. His goal in writing is to inspire readers to engage and think, rather than simply consume and enjoy. With broad interests ranging from literature and video games to fringe science and social movements, his work tends to touch on the unexpected. Damien is the former Editor-in-Chief of OnlySP. More of his work can be found at https://open.abc.net.au/people/21767

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