Gaming looms large at Comic-Con 2014
July 2014 – At the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con the show floor shifted to pushing out video games to more TV and film projects. It is not that gaming left the show and is loosing its appeal, it is actually the opposite the games generated such a crowd, it disrupted the traffic movement on the show floor. As a result, these games moved to new locations near the convention center, but not on the show floor.
The exception was Square Enix, they created a floor plan layout that allowed for 3-4 games to be shown off, and attendees can get play time on them without blocking the aisles. The booth was showing the new version of Hitman for the tablets, as well as Final Fantasy on the consoles. The booth also featured new Batman figures and other characters from their game universe.
Ubisoft has traditionally had a large presence on the expo floor. This year they were promoting the new Assassin’s Creed with an obstacle course, straight razor shave and a big outdoor display screen showing a trailer for the game. Participants could earn a t-shirt by running through the obstacle course or by pre-ordering the game. This course was located across the street from the convention center between the two trolley stations and filled a multiple hour line to check out the game and the obstacle course.
Nintendo setup their normal place for the past few years at the adjacent Marriot hotel. They had over 25 gaming stations featuring the WiiU platform and the Nintendo 3DS. The group was running several gaming tournaments including the new Mario Kart and Dance Central both on the WiiU.
The final current big platform at this year’s conference was the Xbox area. Setup over multiple conference rooms at the Hyatt down the street from the convention center, they were showing many of the new XboxOne games, connected through a local server so there were no bandwidth issues. There were over 20 stations, and games in play included Forza Motorsport, Halo, Titan Fall, Fantasia Music, The Evil Within, Lego Batman 3 beyond gotham, Far Cry 4, Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor, and Evolve. M&E Tech had a chance to test out Forza, Titan Fall and The Evil Within and Evolve. The Evil Within had a fairly long demo play and was a very strong story line and game play that does justice to its game creator as he did making the original Resident Evil. The survival horror game is progressing quite well for the beta release, and the demo only had one “in development” idiosyncrasy, not bad for early beta.
Evolve was a new game structure for Xbox – it is a 4 +1 game – a team of 4 hunters vs 1 monster – so it is a 5 player game. The 4 hunters communicate and team up to try and kill the monster, and each has different skills. The teams have to form dynamic strategies to chase, trap and fight the monster without the whole team getting killed. In the confines of the gaming room with a local server and direct connectivity (all units had a 1Gbps NIC) the game play was brisk and engaging. It was unsure how the game play would be over real internet connections and 100’s of mS delay in command actions.
Further spread out at the con were Samsung with their tablet games, a retro gaming center at the Hard Rock, Sega has set up all of Xbox, Nintendo, and PS4 games, including the Sonic Boom titles and Alien Isolation at Nerd HQ, over at the Petco Park parking lot. These joined The Walking Dead Experience was next to the Borderlands 2: The Pre Sequel laser tag set-up also at Petco Park.
Following the purchase by Facebook and it associated notoriety; there was a lot of placement of the Oculus Rift virtual reality experiences. The single user surround video & audio experience featured tie ins to movies such as Pacific Rim, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Into the Storm and TV shows like Sleepy Hollow. The whole video game experience was then summarized by multiple screening of Video Games: The Movie which were attended by standing room only crowds. at the show