Industry experts expect the focus at E3 this year will be on game developments, rather than hardware, as the industry moves more to online, connected gaming.
The big annual video game convention, E3, will descend on Los Angeles next week, and organizers pledge even standing in line will be fun this year.
The industry conference will be open to fans for the second year in a row, with an expected 15,000 gamers swarming the Los Angeles Convention Center, joining about 45,000 industry insiders. Last year, that meant long lines all around. So this time, exhibitors have been planning activities for people to interact with as they wait for the main events.
E3 will be six days packed full of announcements from the big players in the game industry, sneak peeks at updated games and even a blimp hovering over the convention center which will display selfies sent in by attendees.
E3 has generally focused on new hardware announcements from the big console makers, like Microsoft’s unveiling of the Xbox One X last year. But this year, industry insiders expect the focus to be on the actual games and software that supports them.
“The one big trend that’s happening right now is the industry moving more and more to online, connected gaming,” said Ben Howard, vice president of gaming news site GameSpot. He expects to see more games put the primary focus on multiplayer aspects and battle royale-style games, where players challenge each other to be the last one standing in fighting tournaments.
With the growth of esports – big tournaments where people compete against each other in video games while thousands more watch in person or via livestream – game developers now also have to concentrate on making sure games are just as much fun to watch as to play. E-sports will have a starring role at E3 this year, with at least five competitive gaming events during the week.
Microsoft’s live-streaming service, Mixer, will also have its own booth at the show for the first time this year.
Rumors abound on what the Redmond company might announce at E3 this year. A new “Gears of War” game, perhaps? The next version of “Halo,” maybe?
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All will be revealed starting this weekend. Media events for E3 begin Saturday, and the show floor is open Tuesday through Thursday.
E3 is hosted by the Entertainment Software Association, which reports the industry brought in $36 billion in U.S. revenue last year.