As the 2012 edition comes to a close, E3 has again generated plenty of discussion for the immediate future of our beloved hobby. As a gaming enthusiast, though, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of disappointment with the conferences of the Big Three. Whilst we knew Microsoft and Sony were going to be restrained in their approach, something other than a host of novelty features, motion games or sequels would have been very much appreciated.
Microsoft, up first, let loose with a strange mix of sequels to big IP’s, new additions to the dashboard, and ‘Smartglass’. While Halo has been arguably Microsoft’s killer franchise, I have less excitement for the on-stage demonstrations of Madden (and I am a dead-set fan of NFL and the series!), Dance Central 3, Resident Evil 6 (any franchise that reaches six games needs to consider retirement), and Tomb Raider. These last two, especially, are games that made E3 rumble over fifteen years ago. The ‘Smartglass’ feature sounds decent, in theory, but the PS Move and Kinect library has taught me to be skeptical of any new hardware service. Certainly, there is nothing here to blow gamers away, despite the conference being an improvement on previous years.
If I had travelled forward 10 years in time to today, I’d be asking to go back.
Okay, so Sony can make up for that, right? Despite hearing all manner of good things about Sony pre-conference, I was again left unimpressed. Quantic Dream showed Beyond: Two Souls, and if it weren’t for their reputation, I would have little interest in the trailer whatsoever. As it is, the title shows promise, but is it really lead-off material for the biggest gaming event on the calendar? I certainly don’t think so. PlayStation All Stars: Battle Royale will no doubt sell like hotcakes, but there is little contention to it being a poor man’s Super Smash Brothers. Then we have Wonderbook. I cannot understand why anyone thinks that this is a good use of a studio’s resources. It’s different, sure, but it’s lame. It is also the very reason I am skeptical of new services like Smartglass. The Last of Us was one of the more exciting moments, and that was something we have known about for months. I’ll give Sony two intriguing titles, and a couple of nice Vita moments, but again, absolutely nothing to knock our socks off.
Here we go, then. New console, so Nintendo are bound to share some juicy information!
Or not. Instead, we are told there is simply not enough time. And then treated to demonstrations of a new Wii Fit, a Sing title, and a rehashed Arkham City. Are Nintendo actually playing a joke on us? What should have been a glorious day for them instead turned into a conference that was only salvaged by Pikmin 3 and the 3DS titles announced. No, I don’t want to walk through Nintendoland. Please stop.
E3 has turned in to a shambles. It is now a format to try and win over casual fans, with the lack of big announcements, emphasis on motion gaming, and on-stage demonstrations of an extraordinary number of dancing and singing games. This is in stark contrast to the people who actually attend the event, almost all of whom are committed gamers, and have been for decades. Take a look at the games shown when Nintendo announced the GameCube - Luigi’s Mansion, Pikmin, Wave Race: Blue Storm, Super Smash Brothers: Melee, and Super Monkey Ball were all on show. If I had travelled forward 10 years in time to today, I’d be asking to go back.
The conferences of recent years have been marred by some terrible scripting, over-enthusiasm at terrible projects, and on-stage demonstrations that clearly show whoever is in charge of the control, has spent nowhere near enough time with the game. While that trend was bucked this year, another was only reinforced. It is becoming more and more apparent that games launched at E3 are released 2 to 3 years later, and this makes the conference seem so damn irrelevant to everyone watching worldwide. I’m sure being there in person, and being able to play through some of these games alleviates this somewhat, but E3 is bigger than that now, and it needs to be treated as a bigger event by those with a presence there.
The Big Three, in particular, need to pick up their acts. If I had only the use of three fingers, I would still be able to count on one hand the number of announcements that excited me. The cynic in me thinks that unless there is a marked improvement in the conferences over the next few years, a lot of the long-time gamers will give it all up.
I know I will.
By Tom Hughes - Bio
What were your thoughts on the 2012 E3 convention? Do you feel it is in decline? Let us know in the comments!