I’ve spent the past week in LA for a three-day industry trade show called the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 for short. And while the event itself is short on Mac-specific news, E3’s focus on console and PC gaming offers a good gauge of what’s coming this year in Mac games.
First off, there wasn’t a total absence of Mac game news at this year’s show. THQ showed off a pair of new games based on Pixar’s upcoming computer-animated movie The Incredibles, about a family of superheroes each with distinct powers that are called back into service after living the suburban life for a while. It looks like a lot of fun, and THQ is bringing both an action game suitable for a broad range of gamers and what they’re calling a “mini-game” that’s more suited for the younger set.
What’s more, Blizzard Entertainment offered gamers a look at World of Warcraft, its forthcoming massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) that’s now being beta-tested by thousands of players on both Macs and PCs. They also showed Macs off in their booth, a nice little plug for the platform. Blizzard is shooting for a simultaneous multiplatform release when the game is done. And Myst IV Revelation has been announced — another game coming to Macs and PCs.
Frankly, there aren’t a lot of Mac games at this year’s show — outside of United Distributors, the latest venture from the same company that owns MacPlay, none of the major Mac game publishers exhibited, although most of them are here to make deals and reenforce relationships with the original game developers and publishers they work with to bring games to the Macintosh. And that’s as it should be — they can show their wares to a more relevant audience at events like Macworld Expo in San Francisco, which all the major game companies attend regularly.
Judging from the tens of thousands of gamers, retailers, distributors and press that attended this year’s show, there are clearly a few standouts worth noting. Valve’s Half-Life 2, a first person shooter sequel to the epic game that once was planned for the Mac but cancelled prior to its release, continues to wow attendees who have seen it. It remains to be seen if it will come to the Mac, but many gamers are hoping that a Mac game publisher can seal the deal.
Doom 3, currently in the waning stages of development, was shown playing on Microsoft’s Xbox console, with a PC release also scheduled for later this year. Mac plans for the title have yet to be announced, although Id Software has said in the past that it will bring the game to Mac OS X too. And many gamers got their first look at Halo 2 this week, the sequel to Microsoft and Bungie’s legendary first person shooter. Although this game will be released exclusively for the Xbox to start, it’d be hard to believe that it wouldn’t come to the Mac if a PC version is developed as well.
As you can see, there’s a common thread running through the game industry right now: Sequels. Sequels and games based on movie and TV show licenses have been a running theme for several years now as game companies throw huge amounts of money and time into development and want to be assured of a reasonable return on their investment, lest they raise the ire of their shareholders. Earlier this week, the president of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the company that puts on E3, remarked to the press that he hopes that the industry will shift to more original content development and creative efforts — an opinion shared by many of this year’s attendees.
(Peter Cohen, Senior Editor for MacCentral, supplies this week’s guest editorial.)
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