Video games are becoming a bigger and bigger part of Comic-Con. From the big booths and large crowds on the show floor, to the overflow into the Gaslamp, the presence of the video game industry and its contributions to the SDCC crowd cannot be ignored.
The end of the current console life cycle is upon us, and the Wii U will be released later this year. The PlayStation Vita was released earlier this year, the 3DS is just over a year old, and the iPad and iPhone have bitten into the traditional handheld market. Safe to say, 2012 will be an interesting year for video games at SDCC.
Now that E3 is behind us, we have a pretty good idea of which video games we expect to see at San Diego in July. Let’s run down our predictions. Please note these are our thoughts on what may be at SDCC this year, but none have been confirmed (that we know of) at the time of this writing.
The Big Three
All three of the major game console manufacturers have had a presence at the con in years past, and all are expected to return this year.
Microsoft has never had a huge, flashy booth on the show floor – it has actually been quite small compared to other publishers – and has opted instead to set up shop at the Hard Rock Hotel across the street to give attendees a little elbow room to try out its latest Kinect-enabled titles. Microsoft also sponsored Zachary Levi’s successful Nerd HQ last year, and we know that Xbox will once again be the official gaming sponsor of Nerd HQ in 2012 with “over 40 gaming stations featuring the newest and yet to be released titles”. But we have a feeling this year will be all about Halo 4. The first Halo title without series creator Bungie at the helm, Microsoft will be pushing the return of Master Chief hard, as a playable title on the show floor as well as with multiple Q&A panels.
Sony hasn’t traditionally promoted its consoles at the con but has instead gotten behind its massively multiplayer online games, by way of its Sony Online Entertainment arm. The big push this year will be PlanetSide 2, the MMO FPS sequel which is currently in beta. Expect lots of hands-on stations, multiplayer events, giveaways and Q&A panels for this anticipated title. We also bet DC Universe will return, as SOE continues to support the now free-to-play PC and PS3 title with updates and expansions.
Nintendo has always shown big at SDCC. Its Pokemon franchise consistently attracts both fans of the video and card games, and last year the House That Mario Built took over the Ballroom at the Marriott Marquis & Marina with huge displays, giveaways and other fan events. As the Wii U is scheduled for release this year, and the 3DS is fighting smartphones for handheld dominance, we expect Nintendo to once again have a huge event-style presence at SDCC to show off its new console and upcoming games. And don’t forget to bring your 3DS and turn on StreetPass, as there might be some SDCC-exclusive Miis to catch.
EA had a lot to show last year, with the first public playable demos of Star Wars: The Old Republic and demos of Mass Effect 3 in the Hilton Gaslamp. This year we believe they will be back promoting Dead Space 3 and Crysis 3, as well as new SWTOR content which was recently announced at E3.
Marvel won’t have a new Spider-Man game to show off at this year’s con, but will instead fill the gap with a couple of upcoming titles across platforms. The biggest of the bunch is undoubtedly Marvel Heroes, the long-in-development MMO which finally released a gameplay trailer last month. The developers have been teasing fans for years with a slow trickle of news and announcements, but we’re hoping this is the year we will finally get some news on a beta or release date. The second title is the upcoming Avengers: Battle for Earth for the Xbox Kinect and Wii U, which would most likely be demoed at Microsoft’s or Nintendo’s events, if not both. In addition, Chris Baker, Interactive Manager at Marvel, recently tweeted that Marvel Games will be again hosting a panel and will have some surprise announcements.
Without a major fighting game on its upcoming slate, Capcom won’t be sponsoring any tournaments for attendees (and we’re relieved, as this might alleviate some of the crowd problems in the general vicinity). However, that doesn’t mean it won’t have anything to promote; on the contrary, we expect to see three upcoming titles discussed during panels and also in some form on the show floor: Resident Evil 6, Lost Planet 3, and Devil May Cry.
Square Enix has always had a big booth, so we think Hitman: Absolution and Sleeping Dogs should fill that floor space nicely with playable demos, giveaways and Q&A with the developers. But undoubtedly the publisher will be betting big on Tomb Raider at the con. The hotly-anticipated reboot of the popular franchise will be playable exclusively at this year’s Nerd HQ, and with a movie planned for next year we believe it will get some time on a studio panel during the weekend.
Sega has held some pretty big offsite events in years past with mixed results, so we’re wondering how it will show Aliens: Colonial Marines to attendees; we hope it also brings Double Fine’s The Cave, which won several “Best of E3” awards this year, along for the ride. Telltale games will be showing off the next episode of The Walking Dead game, but hopefully will have some made enough progress on the Fables game to demo as well. Ubisoft has confirmed it will be on hand to demo multiplayer in the upcoming Assassin’s Creed III. NCSoft will be back with Guild Wars 2, which after being shown in development at SDCC for the past two years will finally be released to the public later in 2012. LucasArts doesn’t have any imminent releases, however we think they will try to build upon the positive buzz earned during E3 for its Star Wars 1313 during a panel discussion on Star Wars Day. Lastly, 2K Games will most likely be back at SDCC with updates to two fan-favorite franchises – XCom: Enemy Unknown and Borderlands 2.
Which video games do you hope make it to this year’s SDCC? Which games did we miss? Let us know in the comments!