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What to expect from the PC at E3


It’s E3 week, and while usually that means a whole lot of honking and pan-bashing from the Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo corners, there’s always the respectful undercurrent of modest PC activity to consider. This year’s E3 is expected to rearrange the features of the increasingly bruised face of gaming more than usual, with nexter-generation consoles arriving and a slew of new games spilling into our laps like an exploding clutch of baby spiders. It’s all very exciting! But where does it leave us? Here’s what to expect from the PC at this year’s E3.


Big PC games appearing on consoles as exclusives

This year marks the first time the PC has the upper-hand in the port race. First, we saw Microsoft launch Minecraft on Xbox. Then, Diablo 3 appeared on at the PS4 announcement. We know DCUO and Planetside 2 will appear on PS4, too. But at E3, expect games like League of Legends, World of Tanks, maybe even Dota 2, to put an appearance on console.

Why? Because the games are technically demanding: they’ve been built to run on most machines. Because the consoles are better connected than ever, and have the infrastructure to support it. Because the console manufacturers are finally opening their platforms to hosted MMO games like World of Tanks. Because the games are profitable, and there’s no reason to restrict those profits to platforms with mice and keyboard. But most importantly: because there aren’t many games actually being made, and the console manufacturers need every weapon they can to fight the console wars and consumer apathy.


A big boat to take us all away

Explaining away years of supposed inactivity and utter uselessness, the PC Gaming Alliance will reveal that they’ve been building a big boat to take us all away. The big boat will have room enough for every existing PC user (as well as emergency capacity for 70,000 refugees who hear about the big boat and want in) and will be powered a cutting edge elitism engine fuelled by our combined sense of self-assured smugness. The big boat has been constructed in a secret dry dock in Portugal by Acer and Sun Microsystems, with funding skimmed from Humble Bundles using one of those clandestine financial algorithms that round up every fraction of a penny and put it in a secret bank account, like out of that film.


Practically every game feted by the console press will be coming to PC

Sony’s made great hay from Microsoft’s inability to engage with indie game devs as a point of differentiation. But the vast majority of the games they’re showing will appear on PC. It’s just inevitable: PC gamers buy a metric shitton of indie games. Why would you turn their money down?

Unless Microsoft or Sony coughed up, everything else is on PC too. There is simply no reason for any publisher not to get their game on PC as well. Why would you ignore the 60 million odd Steam accounts for the tiny installed base of a next-gen console?

Four publishers will do or say something to incite a boycott

It’s impossible to tell who will do it, but it’s inevitable that at E3 this year fully four publishers will let slip their whitewashed corporate masks to reveal the monstrously homophobic, misogynist, consumer-reviling creature underneath, either by paying a nude woman to do a fatal backflip during a conference, by gunging an unsuspecting married gay couple or by an executive tripping in a corridor and spilling secret papers everywhere, revealing each page to display the words ‘WE HATE ALL OF THE DUMB BUTT IDIOTS WHO PLAY OUR GAMES’ in massive Impact font. Then, when friendly people try to help pick up the paper, the executive screams “go away you dumb butt idiots, I can do it myself, Jesus Christ.”


The Xbox One’s new features will lead to a rise in always-online DRM on PC

The two main consoles have never been more similar to the PC and to one another in terms of all the wires and processors inside that actually make the games happen. Last time they were quite similar, and this time they have closed that gap almost completely. Now both Sony and Microsoft must manifest some semblance of individuality using new hardware features, some of which are genuinely neat (next-gen Kinect is a technically clever piece of kit), some of which are mightily suspect and seemingly unhelpful. Microsoft say their Xbox Live servers are going to provide extra computational power for things like physics and crowd calculations. So instead of your Xbox using its own CPU to decide how a chair should fall over in real-time – an equation that needs to be solved in less than a single frame of animation – it will essentially Google it instead, which takes milliseconds. That’s ages. That’s not how computers work. It’s not a real feature.

We’ve seen SimCity utilise this particular technique on PC, with claims that the game was handing over some of its processes to an online server, thus necessitating an always-on connection in single player games. Expect Microsoft’s earnest promotion of their next-gen, Xbox Live-powered online processing to validate a new wave of games that support this awful practice of reliance on a publisher’s servers, which is at best a smokescreen for straight-up DRM oversight and at worst a lifeline that will one day be switched off.

The ocean rises up and consumes the convention centre

At 1700PST on Wednesday the Pacific Ocean will surge frothily ‘pon the California coastline before rising forty feet in forty seconds, rushing inland, picking up trucks and cars like toys and tossing them through the glass facades of strip malls, a briny vanguard of brackish saltwater and crystal shards racing towards the Los Angeles Convention Centre faster than any man can run. The E3 attendees in their conference halls will not realise what has happened until they are doomed and the still sun-warm water is lapping at their ears, filling their screaming mouths and biting at their crying eyes.

Their clawing hands scrabble against the convention centre ceiling as they gasp and splutter for their last lungfuls of air in the remaining inches of space between the centre’s roof and peaceful serenity of death and the underwater beneath. When the floodwaters eventually recede three days later, the bloated corpses of thousands of attendees are found surrounded by sodden piles of promotional Watch_Dogs notepads. (This is a change in schedule to the flood’s original slot at 1800PST.)