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In the wake of many recently successful crowdfunded games—including Yooka-Laylee, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, and Shenmue III—questions of the validity and necessity of crowdfunding as a method of development funding have arisen among the gaming community. And considering the general murmur of Shenmue III’s Kickstarter campaign being purely a publicity stunt, it’s not surprising to see why.

While it might be cool to think that we, as gamers and fans, can help fund the development of games we want to play, it begs the question of whether or not crowdfunding is a valid way to pay for a game’s development, or whether it’s even necessary. Why is this becoming the new norm in development funding? Moreover, why is it becoming expected of the fans to help fund a game’s development?

Head inside to see more!

Over the past couple of years, services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have allowed people to contribute money to projects that they'd like to see completed. Known as crowdfunding, these services connect artists, filmmakers, and developers with the people who most want to see these projects come to life, so that together, they can craft these dreams into reality. While some people may oppose the use of crowdfunding in the video game industry, it has proven time and time again to be a successful tactic, and one I firmly believe isn't leaving anytime soon.

Head after the jump to find out why!

Going into this E3, I was ecstatic with excitement. I could run around and play a new Star Fox and watch gameplay from Uncharted 4 and wait two hours to play Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. The abundance of content at this year’s E3 made my first year on the show floor a special one. And yet, one title stole my heart during the show, and it came out of nowhere.

Horizon Zero Dawn makes a strong case for purchasing a PlayStation 4. While The Last Guardian and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End gave phenomenal presentations, I can see myself waiting a few years and a couple price drops to give those games a whirl. It’s not inherently bad in knowing what to expect from these games, but there’s a lack of urgency to play them. On the other hand, Guerrilla’s robot dinosaur hunting mayhem starring futuristic Merida from Pixar’s Brave is the first game I’ve seen from Sony that truly awed me. The PlayStation 4, Wii U, and Xbox One may have already launched years ago, but Horizon is a reminder that this generation should push itself creatively more often than it has so far.

Video games based on film franchises don't exactly have the best track record. For every GoldenEye, there's a 007 Legends. For every Alien Isolation, there's an Aliens: Colonial Marines. The video game industry is haunted by notorious cash-ins on the latest Hollywood blockbusters and poor adaptations of established franchises. Few games have been able to nail down the atmosphere and energy of their source material.

Two games at E3 represent this timeless conflict. Electronic Arts is publishing the one title that has a chance at beating Call of Duty this year. Star Wars: Battlefront is being developed by DICE and the franchise's return (coupled with the incoming release of The Force Awakens) has fans more anxious than C-3PO. Meanwhile, Avalanche Studios is creating Mad Max, a game whose hype is being aided by the extremely positive reaction to the recent Mad Max: Fury Road. Both of these upcoming games are being developed by extremely talented studios and will assuredly contain smooth gameplay and huge production values. However, one succeeds at honoring the vision of the original movie franchise it's rooted in. Star Wars: Battlefront fails in celebrating its source material while Mad Max leaves it in the dust.

E3 is the most exciting time of the year for video game fans, as impressive new games are revealed and epic trailers are released for previously announced games. Unfortunately, there's a dark side to all the hype. E3 has become an arms race, with each developer competing to put out trailers that generate the most awe, and that has led to a shift away from real gameplay footage. 

Each year we are bombarded with increasingly more cinematic trailers that contain little to no actual gameplay and don't accurately represent the final game. This is true on the E3 show floor as well, where you can wait in line for two to three hours to watch a video presentation that tells you nothing about the actual game itself. However, a trend on the E3 2015 show floor has me optimistic that the industry is changing for the better in this regard. Hit the jump for more!

For a while now, I've dreamed of exploring the realm of Hyrule, diving into dungeons, and taking on the hordes of darkness with a friend by my side. Cooperative play, when done right, takes a challenging game and lets you team up with a friend to make the going a little easier. For years now, The Legend of Zelda series has been known for being way too easy, especially from a combat perspective - by letting players team up with their buddies, the team at EAD could use cooperative play as a way to make a truly challenging game while giving less experienced players a means of overcoming the rougher parts.

When Nintendo announced The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes during their E3 2015 Digital Event, I was actually a little excited. Finally, Nintendo was giving us a Zelda where we can team up with friends to take on tough challenges! After some hands-on time with the game on the show floor, I'm not convinced Tri Force Heroes is the sea change I was hoping for. Instead, it feels like more of the failed Four Swords direction all over again.

Kingdom Hearts has never been much of a looker. The draw isn't gorgeous and flashy visuals so much as the excitement of seeing and exploring beloved Disney worlds in 3D. Even the recent HD ReMixes haven't turned Kingdom Hearts into some kind of visual benchmark; they've simply smoothed out the cartoonish graphics so they look clean on modern TVs. Nothing wrong with that - not all franchises can be all things.

Now that we've gotten a closer look at the gameplay of Kingdom Hearts III, however - including our first real glimpse at the game's take on the world of Tangled - I may have to rethink that conclusion. Kingdom Hearts III isn't just a swashbuckling adventure set in Disney-themed worlds: it's actually ramped its graphics and artwork up a notch to become one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful games I've seen so far this generation.

When people buy new dedicated gaming hardware, they usually don't do so based solely on the games that are available at launch: they do so based on the belief that the console's future will be strong. Yes, Wii Sports was definitely the system seller for Wii when it launched in 2006, but gamers weren't just buying into the game of choice for the moment - they were buying into the console's promise of a gaming Revolution. They were buying into the future of Metroid Prime, of Mario, and of Super Smash Bros. - all games that would come out long after Wii's debut.

That makes Nintendo's approach to E3 this year all the more baffling. By all accounts, their lineup for the rest of 2015 and early 2016 is absolutely dismal - barely any new games were announced for Wii U, and the ones that have surfaced for 3DS have received mixed impressions at best. That begs the question: why not give us a peek at the future?

A rising trend in the video game over the past decade, a trend that I personally have always been against, is the prominent inclusion of quick time events, or QTEs. I've been frustrated in the past with games like Resident Evil 6 and Ryse: Son of Rome, both very action and combat oriented games, suffering from an overabundance of QTEs.

Because of this, I haven't been particularly hyped for the upcoming PlayStation 4 game Until Dawn, but as one of Sony's big titles for the years, I felt compelled to try it out on the E3 show floor anyway. While the game certainly has its flaws, it did teach me something. There's a way to do QTEs right. Click below to check out my thoughts!

While this may be surprising to those of you who have never attended E3, most of the players who try out games on show floor just aren't very good at video games. They fumble with the first Goomba in Super Mario Bros., or have trouble figuring out that you can actually shoot arrows while aiming diagonally in Zelda, or can't use any moves in Street Fighter apart from Hadoken. That said, you might expect that lots of people would struggle with Star Fox Zero, especially when it has a complex dual-screen control setup. But even our very own Colin McIsaac and Ben Lamoreux struggled with Star Fox this year - the new controls just didn't click for the vast majority of players I've seen.

On the flip side, I absolutely adored the new control scheme. I felt it added a level of precision and fluidity to both aiming and motion that I didn't get from past games, which tied precision aiming and movement to the same analog stick. They're probably the best controls in the series - and yet, because they're so complex, I expect that very few people will actually feel compelled to acclimate to them.

During Nintendo's E3 2015 Digital Event, they unveiled a new entry in the long-running Metroid franchise, but it's not what fans were expecting. Next Level Games is working on a 3DS spin-off of the series called Metroid Prime: Federation Force, and the initial reception to the reveal could not have been more harsh. While it's unfortunate to see so many fans angry at Nintendo, it really can't be seen as surprising. From what we've seen so far, Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a slap in the face to the Metroid faithful. Hit the jump to read on. 

After Shenmue III was announced at Sony’s E3 press conference, fans swarmed to Kickstarter to throw money at their computer screens, crashing the site in the process. People clamored for another Shenmue for nearly a decade, but all hope seemed lost. Arguably, Shenmue III was the biggest surprise of Sony’s conference, outdoing both The Last Guardian and the remaster of Final Fantasy VII. The fact that the phrase “Shenmue III” was even spoken by industry executives is a huge win for fans. A seemingly dead franchise has burst out of its coffin years after the funeral. It’s not often a video game series makes a triumphant return.

However, the rampant support for Shenmue III that shattered Kickstarter’s records may be overshadowing an underlying issue. The franchise’s return is certainly worth celebrating, but one has to wonder if the proposed plan for raising development funds is an effective or ethical technique. Announcing a crowdfunding program at a giant publisher’s press conference is a new frontier for the industry; it’s a match-up we’ve never seen. The potential dangers must be recognized and discussed, but this discussion is getting buried underneath the hype.

I'll be honest: I assumed that Sony would reannounce The Last Guardian this year, so I really wasn't that surprised when it actually happened. That's usually not such a good thing for an E3 press conference, where the biggest announcements usually aren't the ones you expect. Thanks to some well-timed rumors this morning, I also wasn't too surprised when Final Fantasy VII Remake took the stage. That kind of sucked the visceral excitement out of what should have been an earth-shattering event. Shenmue III was definitely unexpected, but since I never owned a Dreamcast I'm certainly not the guy who'd be able to fully appreciate it.

And yet, even I can say with resolute certainty that Sony's E3 press conference this year not only featured the biggest new content reveals of the show – it featured the biggest game announcements for the entire generation.

As Nintendo's taken its first baby steps into the world of DLC, they've been very careful about not pissing off their customers. They're committed to not working on DLC until the initial game is complete. They're committed to pricing their DLC in a way that doesn't make consumers feel ripped off. For a company that's struggled in recent years, getting the first moves into DLC right is critical for making sure they have satisfied customers to serve as ambassadors for their future gaming ventures.

For the most part, I've been pretty satisfied with their initial DLC experiments. In particular, New Super Luigi U offered a full-game's worth of new levels at half the price, and Mario Kart 8 added a slew of new courses, characters, and vehicles that, all told, came out to about $0.40 per item. Both incredible values any way you look at it. With the newest Smash Bros. DLC, I'm starting to notice a shift: the Smash DLC feels like way too much money for way too little content.

I love the idea of having a permanent games library, where I buy my games once and exactly once and never have to purchase them again. That might not have been a feasible idea on dedicated gaming platforms ten years ago, since every generation introduced massive leaps in computing architecture, data storage formats, and all the other technological components that make consoles tick. But nowadays, as we've grown used to freely converting our music, movies, and even books into easily-transferable, accessible-anywhere digital formats, it almost seems like the permanent games library should be a given at this point.

Sony was the first company to make strides in this direction by adding backward compatibility to PlayStation 2, and later PlayStation 3 and PS Vita. Nintendo followed suit, bringing previous-gen compatibility to each of their handheld successors, then to Wii and Wii U – but older games couldn't take advantage of new system level features like onboard saves or Off-TV Play. Xbox tried to do the same with Xbox 360, but it was only ever able to achieve a patchwork solution. With Xbox One, however, Microsoft's seriously changed the game when it comes to delivering on the promise of the digital games library – such that they've made Sony's solution look anti-consumer by comparison.