With the decreased popularity of E3, smaller video game conferences like the Game Developers Conference (GDC) are more important than ever. Held in San Francisco from February 18 – 22, this year’s GDC is expected to be the most important yet with Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all hoping to set the stage to an important year.
First up is Nintendo. Traditionally, Nintendo is quite conservative at video game trade shows. Wii fans should still keep an eye out, however. Nintendo is expected to go into details about their upcoming downloadable service for original games, WiiWare. They will also hold a session on the development of the highly-anticipated Wii Fit.
Steven Spielberg’s pet project, Boom Blox will be shown in addition to Super Smash Bros. Brawl. We might see new footage on Mario Kart Wii as well. Aside from these games, don’t expect much from them at GDC.
On the other end of the spectrum is Microsoft. They are planning to unveil some games to their 2008 lineup. One heavily rumored game is Gears of Wars 2. Epic, the developer of Gears of War and Microsoft have the two biggest exhibition space on the floor. To add fuel to the fire, they are positioned right next to each other.
Another anticipated game, Fable 2 will be in the spotlight with head designer Peter Molyneux giving a keynote at GDC. Don’t be surprise to see some Rare titles (Banjo Threeie, New Perfect Dark) appear as well.
In the features department, Microsoft will be announcing something big with their Xbox 360 development kit, XNA. A possible user generated system (a la Youtube) for videogames may be in the works.
Microsoft and the Xbox 360 have the most to gain at GDC. After the most successful year for them in the video game business, Microsoft will look to continue the momentum towards 2008.
Finally, Sony has been on a roll lately with video game trade shows. This is probably the main reason as to why many predicted that 2008 will be the year of the Playstation 3.
Sony debuted LittleBigPlanet and Playstation Home at GDC last year. Don’t be surprised to hear a lot more from those two at this year’s show. You can also expect Resistance 2 to be shown in some form. Singstar will also be at the show as Sony will try to live off the American Idol hype.
Finally, Final Fantasy XIII, or at least the engine used to make the game, will be at GDC. Will we finally see some footage of real-time graphics? Other first party games such as Socom, Wipeout, Infamous and Killzone 2 should appear at the show in some form as well.
Overall, expect another strong showing for Sony at the show. In fact, fans of the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii have something to look forward to at the show. Game Developers Conference 2008 should be an exciting times for video games in general. The show will be hosted at the Moscone Center in San Francisco from February 18th – 22nd.