"The response from the games industry to the idea has been amazing. When we initially proposed a consumer show we went to all publishers and 90 per cent said “we’ll support you, we’re in” – and that’s been the case all the way through. It may be a testing time of the year for the number of games released, but without doubt, publishers have come through with some excellent stands and great content. We’re also extremely pleased with the response from the press with coverage in The Sun, and film crews from T4 and ITN capturing all the action at the show.
"One big feature of the show will be the stage. We’ve got over 20 bands lined up, such as We Are Scientists, in addition to games features with Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Pro Evo, ensuring there will plenty of entertainment throughout the weekend.
"I don’t know if a UK games show will ever be able to take on trade shows such as the old E3 and the Tokyo Games Show for sheer size as we do not have the headquarters of Sony or Microsoft based in this country. But I do know that we need to engage the UK consumer, which is why I am so impressed by the commitment these huge companies have given to this show.
"It’s great to know that MCV’s readership will be out in force. Over 800 VIP tickets have been snapped up by you all – and with a special trade-only MCV/Pro Evo Pitch View Room, you should be well looked after.
"So next weekend, why not come to the finest football stadium in the world and witness what we hope will be a step in the right direction for gaming and the games industry in the UK.
"But first, sit back and take a look at just what our partners have got to offer – and why we’re so excited about what we’ve got in store...”
Stewart Rowe - Managing Director, Play.com
Sony looks to show off Killzone 2 – with a full trailer on the cards, which should have Sony fanboys agog from start to finish.
Elsewhere, the platform holder is demonstrating the power of its PlayStation Network with some impressive titles – not least Echochrome. As we get closer to their release, a significant portion of the crowd will definitely be looking to get their hands on Gran Turismo 5 Prologue and Everybody’s Golf: World Tour, whilst long-awaited sequel God Of War: Chains Of Olympus will be available for fans of the PlayStation Portable.
Sierra is planning something pretty strange for Wembley’s neighbourhood… a giant StayPuft Marshmallow man. But it promises to be pretty wonderful, too. Rumour has it that other Ghostbusters-related props will be on show, including a replica of the 1959 ambulance-Cadillac the ‘busters used to get around town. The Ghostbusters game will be demoed along with the very sexy-looking Prototype.
The open world stormer from Radical Entertainment has been making preview journos in the PS3, 360 and PC specialist press salivate for months now. As an added bonus, a similarly eye-catching outing is also planned for The Bourne Conspiracy, which promises to be a major hit when released in the summer on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
“Ghostbusters is a pop cultural milestone for the core audience of next-gen games – so there’s little doubt that Sierra Entertainment is onto a winner,” explained head of games at Play.com Gian Luzio. “We’re ecstatic to have the giant Stay Puft marshmallow man at Play.com Live – it will be a real centrepiece. The rest of Sierra’s line-up for the event shows just how strong a roster it has for 2008.”
If Electronic Arts’ colossal showing in Trafalgar Square during last year’s London Games Festival is anything to go by, the publisher will provide visitors to Play.com Live with a real treat. EA has big plans for Rock Band, which will feature a large amount of audience participation. The firm is even utilising Play.com’s main stage at Wembley to show what the title can do. Elsewhere, the publisher will be showing off new urban sports romper FIFA Street 3, alongside co-op shooter Army Of Two, Burnout Paradise and The Simpsons Game. In addition, My Sims will get an airing – sure to be a hit with the family audience.
“We’re ecstatic with the level of commitment that EA has shown the event,” adds Luzio. “The buzz around Rock Band is really growing – and Play.com Live is a perfect platform to show off just how good it is.”
It will be a scary atmosphere over at Sega’s corner of the event, as it shows off the eerie Condemned 2 (pictured right). To offer some family-friendly respite, the publisher will also be giving mums, dads and kids alike the chance to fiddle with chart-topping wonder Sonic and Mario at The Olympic Games, which is sure to draw the crowds once newcomers get to grips with the intuitive Wii version. In addition, Sega Superstar Tennis will be playable.
Very little is known about the newest in the Resident Evil series, but Capcom is likely to show off a cheeky glimpse of Resident Evil 5 (pictured left) to the assembled crowd. Judging by the furious forumite action that the title inspires day-in-day-out, Capcom’s stand should have no problem in attracting a very healthy number of attendees.
Once there, they will be given another unprecedented treat – with a non-playable peek at Street Fighter 4 (pictured inset).
For those itching to get their hands on a console, former All Formats number one Devil May Cry 4 will be playable, and will be joined by the PS3 version of popular third-person action title Lost Planet.
One of the biggest draws of the entire Play.com Live experience will be a video of the still-mighty-secretive Star Wars adaptation, The Force Unleashed (pictured right). When a game promises the prospect of scything through rebel scum with a motion-sensing Wii Remote lightsabre and taking on the role of Darth Vader’s all-too-willing assistant, you know it’s going to engage the crowds.
The title promises new truths about the Star Wars universe – with its story set somewhere between the conclusive Star Wars: III Revenge Of The Sith and Star Wars IV: A New Hope.
Activision will also offer playable demos of exciting upcoming titles including LucasArts’ LEGO Indiana Jones and Paramount cartoon movie adaptation Kung Fu Panda – which will hit cinema screens this summer.
No games party would be complete without a showing from Guitar Hero – and FPS of the moment Call Of Duty 4 will also be demonstrated.
With the recently created games publishing division adding another valuable string to Warner Brother’s gigantic media bow, Play.com Live offers an ideal platform for the firm to demonstrate its power as an all-round entertainment company.
Alongside a showcase for the eagerly awaited Batman film Dark Knight, consumers will also get a first look at the equally anticipated LEGO Batman. Developed by LEGO Star Wars kingpins TT Games, DC Comics' caped crusader cruises around a fully LEGO Gotham with boy wonder Robin.
Warner’s other major feature at the show will be Speed Racer, the next film from The Matrix creators the Wachowski brothers that looks set to be an early summer hit – both at the cinema and on console.
“It’s great to have Warner Bros on board,” says Play.com’s Gian Luzio. “2008 is looking like a very exciting year for them. Lego Batman and Speed Racer are both smashing properties that should turn more than a few heads over the weekend.”
With a release date now finally set for May, interest in Ubisoft’s Haze (pictured left) will be skybound when Play.com Live rolls around next week.
The title has suffered a bumpy ride to release, with a delay that took it past Christmas, but Play.com Live will be a real opportunity for Ubisoft to show off just how special the FPS is.
Developed by Free Radical – the team behind Timesplitters – the title looks set to push the genre into areas it’s never been before, and has been lapped up by the specialist games press.
For the more stealthful ticket holder, Ubisoft will also be presenting a playable version of Tom Clancy Rainbow Six Vegas 2. Ubisoft has told MCV that the title is an ‘all-in-one prequel, sequel and conclusion’ to the first game, and the title’s innovative co-op mode will certainly be worth a browse for attendees. And Ubisoft will prove that Activision won’t be the only company to have a Star Wars force on show – with Soul Calibur IV, which allows gamers to play as Yoda and Darth Vader.
Microsoft is going all out to target the family audience at Play.com Live – with a wealth of titles perfect for connected audiences to play together. From button-bashing movie quiz Scene It! (pictured, inset) to garden building chillout marathon of Viva Pinata, the platform holder is providing a feast of fun for all ages. It will also demonstrate the power of Xbox Live, which it is looking to take to the mainstream, family audience with initiatives such as Video Store and mainstream titles – which will be demonstrated at Play.com Live. The beautiful REZ HD, addictive Boom Boom Rocket and card-based joy of Uno will all be on display. But Microsoft’s stand won’t be 100 per cent about casual gamers – with a handful of ‘core’ gamer exclusives also rumoured.
As well as unveiling new IP such as get-up-and-workout Wii title Big Beach Sports, THQ has gone down the route of showcasing its strongest existing product. And with big hitters such as Frontlines: Fuel of War (pictured, left) and MX vs ATV Untamed, who can blame the publisher? The king of THQ’s current product roster is, of course, WWE SmackDown! Vs. Raw (pictured, inset), and the latest iteration is sure to get a good airing – and attract the teenage male demographic like nothing but nudey pictures could otherwise achieve.
New titles won’t be in short supply, however, and whispers of titles such as Battle of The Bands and DeBlob will satisfy curious hardcore punters and the family audience alike.
Codemasters is going all out with its latest triple-A racing cracker. Still without a release date, Race Driver: GRID promises to really wow petrolheads when a playable version is made available at Play.com Live.
The title, which is due out on DS, PC, PS3 and X360 later this year, began life as TOCA, but the name change hasn’t affected its appeal.
The game takes players to dramatic race locations over three continents to compete, and is packed with the most powerful race cars – from new and classic to circuit and drift.
Prestigious European racetracks abound, whilst Japanese night races are set to be a highlight.
But it’s in the US where visitors to Play.com Live will find the most iconic cities. – including San Francisco, Washington DC and Detroit.
The best of the rest...
Both Konami and Midway were two of the first publishers to sign up to Play.com Live when the concept was revealed in MCV last year – and they’ve seen that commitment through with two splendid competitions for attendees.
Midway’s Unreal Tournament III is sure to be a hit at the expo regardless, but the publisher has gone the extra mile, with a major push for both the PC and PS3 versions of the game.
Meanwhile, any games show just wouldn’t be complete without Pro Evolution Soccer, and Konami has laid on a real treat for fans. A very prominent turn for Pro Evolution 2008 will be a centrepiece of the show, with fans able to take each other on in the football-friendly atmosphere of Wembley stadium.
Square Enix’s Dragon Quest: Monsters Joker on DS will also get an airing, and Oxygen will be looking to hit the bullseye with Wiimote-swinging chart smash PDC World Championship Darts.
And for those with a musical ear...
Let’s be honest – music acts that turn up to games shows don’t tend to be of the most respectable ilk. Youngsters needing exposure or old rockers on the way out tend to be the order of the day, which is why it’s so impressive that Play.com has pulled out all the stops. Over the two days, ticket holders will witness on-stage antics of the likes of We Are Scientists, Elliot Minor, Starsailor and The Rumble Strips. In addition, genuine ‘gonna-bes’ are performing in the shape of ‘new Winehouse’ Beth Rowley and 50’s throwbacks Vincent Vincent and The Villains.
There will also be plenty of other non-singing celebrity talent at the event, including ‘It’ girl Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, former boyband hunk Duncan James, Love Island ex-footballer Duncan James and chef Jean-Christophe Novelli.
Elsewhere, talented jazz imp Jamie Cullum has also been signed up – suggesting he’s a big fan of games.