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The Video Games of SDCC 2011

Comic-Con isn’t just for comics anymore, this much we know. But over the past couple of years, video games have been taking a more prominent role on the show floor. With E3 just past and video game companies prepping for a big push into the second half of the year, expect this year to be no different.

Let’s take a look at some of the video game companies we might expect to see at this year’s con.

The Big Three

Sony had a huge presence last year. Their console business was demoing the Playstation Move motion controller and games, and at a separate booth Sony Online Entertainment was showing off games like Clone Wars Adventures and DC Universe Online. Now that the PS Vita has been announced, expect to go hands-on with demo units, as well as continued support for SOE MMOs that continue to draw the Comic-Con crowd. Also expect to see some of their bigger first-party releases such as the God of War: Origins and ICO & Shadow Of The Colossus collections.

Nintendo was also at the con last year with two booths on the floor. One was a slime-designed booth promoting Dragon Quest IX for the Nintendo DS where they offered SDCC-exclusive downloadable quests to attendees. The other was to promote their Pokemon franchise, primarily the card game. Expect Nintendo to return to the show with the 3DS, but don’t get your hopes up expecting to get your hands on a Wii U. In the same way Nintendo wasn’t pushing the 3DS last year ahead of its release, I’m afraid they won’t be bringing the Wii successor to the con this year.

Microsoft had a tiny booth last year, and instead opted to set up shop across the street at the Hard Rock Hotel. This allowed attendees to experience the Kinect motion controller with a more generous space without the show floor’s huge crowds. If E3 was any indication, then they’ll probably be pushing Kinect hard this year as well. That’s okay by me, because between Mass Effect, Star Wars and Forza 4, there’s plenty of Kinect-ready titles that I’d want to play. Plus, there’s new Gears of War and Halo titles due this fall that should have playable builds on-hand. Whether they decide to bring a bigger booth to the show floor or once again maximize the available space outside of the convention hall, I’m certain they’ll be back big.

Third Party Companies

EA also set up across the street in the Gaslamp Quarter, giving attendees a “behind closed doors” look at Dragon Age II, complete with required NDAs from those eager to get an early peak, and playable kiosks of Dead Space 2. This year, they’ve got the aforementioned Mass Effect 3, plus their answer to the Call of Duty juggernaut, Battlefield 3, and the forever-in-development Star Wars MMO The Old Republic. With show much riding on the success of their upcoming titles, I would expect them to return to the con and its crowds in order to generate some good press and positive word of mouth.

Harmonix had a big stage for Rock Band 3, but with the music game genre all but drying up last year, a return should not be expected. The same canot be said for Capcom, who set up a fighting ring to promote their Marvel vs. Capcom 3 with fighting tournaments throughout the weekend and exclusive character reveals. Expect a rematch in the ring for their new upcoming Street Fighter vs. Tekken game. Capcom also gave attendees early access to Fortune City, with kiosks of a playable Dead Rising 2. There’s more Dead Rising to come this year, but more exciting is the return of franchise favorites Resident Evil and Devil May Cry. Expect Capcom to have a big presence with a return appearance on the show floor.

THQ pushed their new entry to the Red Faction series last year with a stunning booth sporting a giant posable mech and regular developer-led demonstrations for attendees. This year, fans would go nuts if the collaboration with Red Faction-developer Volition and con-staple Guillermo del Toro had a presence, either with some lifesize models of his signature creature designs, or better yet an appearance by the man himself. At the very least, Volition could show their newest entry to the multi-million selling Saint’s Row series.

Activision had exclusive Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions reveals during the con last year. Now that the Spidey series is an annual franchise, look for them to demo the new Spider-Man: Edge of Time for lucky True Believers. Another Marvel title, X-Men Destiny, is due from Activision this year, so you can bet that will be at the show, too. And a recent tweet from Marvel Studios games division indicates there will be more surprises in store:!/cbake76/status/81459295606145025

Telltale, leaders of the modern-day adventure game genre, had a small booth last year but weren’t showing their most anticipated title, Back To The Future, ahead of its winter release. Now that they have the upcoming Jurassic Park, as well as games based on comic favorites The Walking Dead and Fables, it’s expected they will return, hopefully with more to show this year.

MMO Heaven

NC Soft bought the latest installments of their Guild Wars and City of Heroes RPGs in their booth, during panels and even throwing a big offsite event at the Hard Rock. They’ve already confirmed they’ll be back promoting City of Heroes (at booth #5345, to be exact) and an NC Soft Meet & Greet at the Hard Rock Hotel. No further details yet as of press time. But they will have an SDCC-exclusive Mk-VI “Victoria” costume code for those who stop by the booth and meet the developers.

To answer the SOE’s DC Universe, Marvel has two MMOs to cover a wide spectrum of players. They have their Super Hero Squad Online MMO for younger fans, but more interesting is the long-rumored and recently-confirmed Marvel MMO from Secret Identity Studios. The latest on this project is that its being written by Brian Michael Bendis, so it has some real star power attached. It would be nice to see Marvel finally give some more information on this project, either at their booth or, even better, at the aforementioned Marvel Games panel (which yours truly will be there covering, natch).

And Panels, Too!

And it’s not all about the show floor – throughout the weekend, expect scattered panels on some upcoming video game releases. Last year, David Jaffe was on hand for Twisted Metal, Warren Spector pushed the much-hyped Epic Mickey, Cliff Blezinski was showing an early build of Gears of War 3, and Bungie and 343 Industries had Halo: Reach panels. It’s a sure bet video game developers and publishers will return to the panel schedule to promote their 2011 releases and use Comic-Con to connect with fans ahead of September’s Penny Arcade Expo.

What games are you excited about that you want to see at the con? Tell us in the comments below, or shoot me a tweet at @SpotAnime.

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