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What we're looking forward to at E3 2018

Jun 7, 2018 7:00:00 AM

It’s just a few short days until this year’s E3 expo, which we’re fortunate enough to be attending this year. In addition to catching up with our studio and technology partners, like everyone else, we’re very much looking forward to seeing the news and announcements that will shape the industry for the year ahead. Of course, there will always be a few twists and turns, but from where we stand right now, these are some of the things that we’ll be keeping a close eye on:

The big step into online gameplay for traditionally single-player oriented studios. In light of Bethesda’s teaser for the upcoming Fallout 76, and if the rumours are true that this next step in the franchise will be some form of online survival RPG, it will be interesting to see how the publisher brings its trademark immersive world-building to a multiplayer environment. Given how technically taxing the single-player iterations of the Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchises tend to be, how will any engineering limitations impose on the development team’s impeccable attention to detail? What will the game’s approach to player limits, non-instanced gameplay, and scale of game world be?

The evolution of cross-platform play. The arms race between PUBG and Fortnite entered the mobile realm this year with unprecedented commercial results, ensuring that every other publisher and studio will take a long look at the possibility of migrating a full translation of their AAA multiplayer offerings onto tablets and phones. Cross-play is a fascinating topic from both a game design and technical perspective. In terms of design, how do you refine a level of parity that ensures a battle between a mobile player and PC player remains sufficiently accessible yet rewarding? From a technical standpoint, what are the ramifications on the server setups, resourcing, and tool chains needed to support this? The integration of mobile also poses unique questions about data collection and it will be interesting to see exactly how the industry approaches this sensitive topic.

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The ongoing migration into Games-as-a-Service. E3 is a course-correction opportunity as much as an arena for new sales pitches, and we’re expected to see new content iterations for recent promising-yet-flawed releases such as Sea of Thieves. Destiny 2 is arguably still running damage control with its newly announced Warmind DLC, and even No Man’s Sky, a 2016 release, is pushing a substantial free content upgrade at E3 as a long-standing effort to combat an initially mixed reception. It’s further evidence of the way studios are evolving into always-on development cycles, and the similar transformation of their tools and workflow to accommodate this. As Matt Booty, the newly appointed head of Microsoft Studios, points out, audiences are demanding more social and community-driven experiences, leading to a commercial challenge in projecting the longevity behind titles (and the lifetime support needed to sustain them).

The push (or lack thereof) behind AR and VR. It feels like these technologies have been at the forefront of the conversation for a while, but VR in particular has suffered from a slower-than-expected uptake of hardware. There’s a lot of creative activity happening, from the platform release of existing AAA titles such as Resident Evil 7 to dedicated titles such as The Invisible Hours, but it’ll be interesting to see the publishers’ approach to driving the segment over the hump. With AR, the success of Pokemon Go demonstrated both the commercial feasibility and technical limitations of the technology. We’ll be talking with our partners about the progress they’ve made in solving issues such as the refinement of shared location-based experiences, as well as the investigation of lateral opportunities such as the AR app store and cloud.

As always, there is going to be a host of spirited discussion at E3 and we’re excited to be in the thick of it. If you do happen to be attending and would like to chat with us about your projects or Hadean’s technology in more detail, please drop us a line at info@hadean.com. We look forward to seeing you there!

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