Electronic Entertainment Expo 2013
Electronic Entertainment Expo 2013

Ten Video Games to Watch This Holiday Season: E3

Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com

10 Games to Watch This Holiday Season

Guido Mieth | Flickr | Getty Images

Video game publishers and developers have spent the better part of this week at E3 trying to wow the often-jaded gamer with new installments of favorite franchises, games they've never heard of before and plenty of sizzle reels.

They've done a pretty good job, too, judging by feedback on gaming forums.

But what they've quite often downplayed is the critical need for patience. The games of E3 often don't make it to retail for a year or two (and sometimes even longer).

As we've put together this year's list of games that caught our eye, we've tried to focus on those that should be available this holiday season. (And it was a tough list to compile, since many of the most outstanding games of the show have 2014 release dates.)

Keep in mind, delays are regular occurrences in this industry—so there's no guarantee all of these will make it to store shelves on schedule.

Here are 10 titles we expect will make an impact in 2013:

By Chris Morris, Special to CNBC.com
Posted 13 June 2013

Watch Dogs

Image Source | Ubisoft

Ubisoft blew the doors off the 2012 E3 with this franchise. The buzz surrounding it hasn't died down—and it looked great at this year's show. You'll play a hacker in a distopian society that seems ripped from today's Prism headlines. (The recent controversy has only helped increase interest in the game.) Player fatigue with endless sequels could help "Watch Dogs" become one of the premiere launch titles for the PS4 and Xbox One—and could excite owners of existing platforms as well.

Call of Duty: Ghosts

Source: Activision

This one's a gimme. Never count out Activision's biggest franchise, even when it faces stiff competition. Rather than putting out another "Modern Warfare" chapter, as many expected, developer Infinity Ward is introducing new enemies, a new world and new characters, including a playable dog—yep, you read that correctly— that captivated everyone when the company showed footage of its motion capture session.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

Image source: Ubisoft

There have been plenty of South Park games over the years—but none have been much fun. "The Stick of Truth" may change that. Ubisoft took over publishing rights for the game when THQ folded, but developer Obsidian Entertainment wasn't affected. Full of obscenities, fart jokes and the series' signature irreverence, this won't be considered high art—and parents will want to keep kids away—but it's definitely funny. And that alone puts it far, far above its predecessors.

Disney: Infinity

Image source: Disney

Disney has been focusing more on mobile games than console titles lately, but it's hoping to make a big splash this year. "Infinity" follows a path Activision blazed with its "Skylanders" series, mixing video games and real world toys, and it faces still competition from a new "Skylanders" installment this year. But the depth of the Disney character catalog, its built-in audience and the cross-promotional possibilities of this sort of product give us faith the company can pull it off.

Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World
Image source: Nintendo

The Wii U might have its problems, but when it comes to sure software bets, you can't go wrong with a "Mario" platform title. It's not that the game is particularly revolutionary (unless you count the ability to turn Mario and his friends into cats with the right power-up). But that won't matter to die-hard fans. And it may prompt more people to buy the system.

Batman Arkham Origins

Image source: Warner Brothers

Warner Bros. has knocked the past two "Batman" games out of the park. And this third installment seems destined to do the same. The addition of a detective mode lets players explore crime scenes in a way they never have before. And a new mobile version of the game for dedicated handheld consoles retains all the atmosphere and open-world feel of its console cousins, but also gives a boost of freshness that will re-energize fans.

Gran Turismo 6

Source: Sony

Sony's premier racing series has always been a gorgeous game to behold, but this latest installment sets a new bar. It's often hard to discern the difference between real images and the graphics onscreen. And fans of the racing genre will have plenty of new tracks and a full garage of vehicles to keep them happy.

Killzone: Shadow Fall

Image source: Sony

Every console needs a big, noisy, gorgeous launch game. For the PlayStation 4, "Shadow Fall" is it. The Killzone franchise shows off what the PS4 can do and will scratch the itch for action gaming fans. Still to be determined is how Microsoft will respond with the Xbox One (whose Day 1 launch lineup is still being determined).

Battlefield 4

Battlefield 4
Image source: EA Sports

Will "Battlefield 4" top "Call of Duty: Ghosts" in the sales charts? Almost certainly not, but that doesn't make it any less of a gaming achievement. Developer DICE has become EA's secret weapon when it comes to stunning visuals and immersive game play. And there's no reason to believe this won't be their crowning achievement.

Assassin's Creed 4

Image source: Ubisoft

After exploring the Middle Ages and Colonial America, "Assassin's Creed" is taking to the high seas. It's a bold move for the series, which will mix traditional assassinations on land with oceanfront battles, but the game offers a diversity that could attract a fresh audience—and rejuvenate one that's getting tired of the same formula.