Game Developers Conference kicks off with low expectations

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Game Developers Conference kicks off with low expectations

San Francisco (CA) – The annual Game Developers Conference starts today in San Francisco’s lovely Moscone Convention Center, but will this year’s show be as interesting as the last? According to many attendees we spoke to, this year’s show looks to be rather hum-drum when compared to the console releasing madness of 2006. Unless something surprising happens, there won’t be any amazing hardware announcements and there won’t be any “killer games” demoed.

Last year, both Nintendo and Sony garnered most of the buzz with their new gaming consoles, but the story is much different this year. Sony will most likely talk about their not-so-secret Playstation Home service which lets gamers post up their achievements in a social networking environment. Last week, Kotaku, a large gaming site, published a rumor about the upcoming service and was summarily blacklisted by Sony. After a media frenzy, mostly in favor of Kotaku, both sides kissed and made up.

Some companies have broken out of the general GDC malaise by previewing some good looking games. Microsoft showed off several games to gawking journalists on Tuesday – a good move since they don’t have a keynote during the convention. The company’s PR reps gave previews of Fable 2, the Age of Conan and Mass Effect. Twitchguru’s Rob Wright was there and you can read his write-up here.

DirectX10 and all the visual goodies that it entails could also turn some heads in the show. Major graphics companies like Nvidia are demoing new software toolkits that will let developers add new textures and shaders to their games. For MMO fans, Blizzard’s lead designer Rob Pardo will give a session on Wednesday about the past, present and future of MMO games. Hopefully he’ll give some juicy details about the future of World of Warcraft, currently the MMO with the largest subscriber base.

The game companies are trying desperate measures to gain attention and we got our first taste of it in the press room. RealNetworks made up some impressive looking cakes for the press and a press release for the upcoming “Cake Mania” game was placed inside the gift card. At least their PR reps know what the press really likes … food. There’s nothing like Mountain Dew and chocolate cake to start off the day.