Gaming expos continue to go from strength to strength in 2010. After last year's explosion of new conferences and events worldwide, this year has seen record attendance numbers and expansion. While E3 and Tokyo Game Show dominate the headlines with their seemingly endless supply of new reveals, there has been a general shift towards public-focused events with the likes of gamescom and the Eurogamer Expo, as well as PAX adding Boston to its roster. We look at the all the big announcements and surprises from the big three, and their place on the industry stage.
The biggest gaming expo once again lived up to expectations this year. A raft of leaks, however, once again spoilt many of the big surprises, especially in Microsoft's camp. The platform holder hired Cirque du Soleil to reveal the name of its motion controller Kinect in high profile fashion, only for it to be leaked mere hours before the event began. The conference itself focused heavily on Kinect's launch lineup, and topped it off by revealing a slimline Xbox 360 console which would be in shops that very week in North America. But there was little else of note, and with the focus on its casual lineup and few core games on show, Microsoft's showing was easily the weakest appearance from the big three.
Nintendo's conference the following evening was practically the opposite. The first reveal of the 3DS was something that wowed everyone, especially since it was playable at the event itself via a fleet of booth babes. There was also announcement after announcement that treasured franchises would be making a return, such as Donkey Kong, Kirby and Zelda. But the biggest surprise of the show came in Sony's conference, with Valve's Gabe Newell appearing on stage to confirm Portal 2 with Steamworks' support on the PS3 despite publicly dismissing the format several years earlier. It also had concrete PlayStation Move launch details, the reveal of premium service PlayStation Plus, a Gran Turismo 5 release date and reveal of a new Twisted Metal game.
Third parties also impressed with their own conferences. Electronic Arts belted out release dates for Dead Space 2, Bulletstorm and revealed Criterion's Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit. Ubisoft's was the most entertaining for its bizarre showings of a relaxation device akin to the Wii's Vitality Sensor and laser toy Battle Tag. While the lack of new Beyond Good & Evil 2 details was disappointing, a new Rayman title and in-depth showing of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood almost made up for it. The lack of James Cameron instantly made it a better conference anyway.
While the sheer quantity of announcements cemented E3's status as the industry's premier gaming event, the leaks across the board have no doubt cheapened the anticipation factor, especially compared to the surprises of five or ten years ago.
This year the Cologne expo became the biggest gaming event in the world, with a staggering 254,000 press and public visitors flooding through its doors over five days. Although its focus was on hands-on previews and demo sessions, platform holders and third parties came out in force to announce dates and new projects. Microsoft finally pinned Kinect's release schedule for Europe, as well as showing off a new line of Windows Phone 7 titles. Microsoft also dropped a conference this year in favour of a Play Day for Kinect, which provided extensive hands-on coverage for the press.
Meanwhile, competitor Sony proceeded with a full-on conference that was crammed with reveals. New SKUs, new Ratchet & Clank and Resistance games, and ITV Player support were among the announcements. Third parties also peppered gamescom with their own reveals: EA's surprise reveal of Mass Effect 2 for PlayStation 3, Artisans for Diablo III, Virtual Tennis 4, and Stephen Merchant for Portal 2 were some of the highlights.
Behind closed doors at the event DS saw a handful of the biggest releases. A preview and interview for Call Of Duty: Black Ops kicked off our coverage, followed by previews of inFamous 2, LittleBigPlanet 2, Rock Band 3 and BioShock Infinite. We also talked to PopCap about Plants Vs Zombies, looked at Disney Epic Mickey with Warren Spector, and discussed the long-term plans for iPhone smash Angry Birds with Rovio Mobile.
Tokyo Game Show 2010
After a weak showing in 2009, Asia's premier game show provided some of the most interesting reveals of the year. The big story was the long-awaited confirmation of the ICO and Shadow of the Colossus remasters for PS3, which will feature a 720p resolution, Trophies and 3D support when it's released next spring. Alongside that was The Last Guardian's first showing for over a year, with a new trailer and a confirmed late 2011 release date. A third Valkyria Chronicles title was announced for the PSP by Sega, as well as a true sequel to Dreamcast MMO Phantasy Star Online for PC in 2011.
EA once again had a strong presence at the event to reveal several new titles. Its collaboration with Grasshopper Shadows of the Damned was given a full trailer, and it announced the first 3DS launch title with My Garden. Capcom's conference saw a Devil May Cry reboot in partnership with British studio Ninja Theory and Dead Rising 2 was given a second downloadable spinoff with Case West.
Finally, Microsoft announced five new Kinect games aimed at core audiences - including a new Steel Battalion title and a spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon - while Sega Saturn rarity Radiant Silvergun was confirmed for Xbox Live Arcade. Microsoft's core focus at TGS was a strong departure from its E3 lineup, and the strength of announcements from all publishers proved that the flailing Japanese games industry is far from beaten.