Don't call it a comeback. The recent success of "Titanfall" and "Watch Dogs" has laid the foundation for several new video games that don't contain numbers in their names to be hyped at next week's Electronic Entertainment Expo, the gaming industry's annual trade show. With anticipation building for several all-new titles, have game developers finally found the cure for sequelitis?
The industry has long mined popular games like "Call of Duty," ''Super Mario Bros." and "Final Fantasy" for a chain of spinoffs and sequels, but change is afoot ahead of this year's E3. The flashy trade show, expected to draw more than 48,000 attendees, will be populated by more original titles than in recent years.
The sci-fi shooter "Destiny," alternate history adventure "The Order: 1886," cartoony shoot-'em-up "Sunset Overdrive" and man-versus-monster match-up "Evolve" could steal attention away from the latest crop of "Call of Duty," ''Halo" and "Assassin's Creed" games, the same way that then unheard-of "Watch Dogs" and "Titanfall" did the past two years at E3.
Despite such triumphs, original games likely won't outnumber sequels at E3. There's a plethora of new installments scheduled to be promoted across the cavernous halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center, including the latest editions of "The Sims," ''Fable," ''Call of Duty," ''Far Cry," ''Metal Gear Solid," ''Dragon Age" and "Assassin's Creed" series.
"We're at the beginning of a hardware cycle, and we'll be at our annual show where we love to introduce new brands, so I think that means we'll have a higher combination of new brands than what you might have seen at E3 over the past three or four years," said Tony Key, senior vice president of sales and marketing at "Watch Dogs" publisher Ubisoft.
"Watch Dogs," an open-world action game that casts players as a vigilante hacker roaming around Chicago, sold 4 million copies after it debuted last week, becoming gaming's best-selling "new IP." That's industry-speak for original intellectual property—essentially a game that's not a sequel or licensed from an existing entertainment franchise.
By showcasing the game's unique ability to "hack" into the virtual city's infrastructure, as well as other players' sessions, "Watch Dogs" cemented itself as the most talked-about game of E3 when Ubisoft unveiled it two years ago. Bungie, the studio responsible for the original "Halo" games, hopes for similar buzz for "Destiny."
"We have a new IP," said Eric Osborne, community and marketing relations manager at "Destiny" developer Bungie. "We're not forgetting that we have a lot of people to convince that what we're building is amazing. We're convinced over here, which is why we're gonna roll a 'beta' (test version) out in July and let people experience a huge chunk of the game for themselves."
Similar to the "Halo" games, "Destiny" is a first-person shooter set in a sprawling sci-fi galaxy. But unlike the developer's previous series, "Destiny" requires gamers to always play online. Activision Blizzard Inc. is spending $500 million to market and develop the game—an unprecedented monumental bet on a title with no proven track record.
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More information: www.e3expo.com