Do all good things have to come to a crash and burn ending? At one time I used to be extremely excited for all of the big publisher press conferences at E3. They were easy to stream and digest, one could extract quite a few nuggets of greatness from them and in a way they gave E3 a very official air, but this year proved that the format has become extremely stale.
Sure, part of the problem might be playing to the lowest common denominator, a great deal of the games shown were gritty first-person shooters, but I have a hard time knocking on that as I enjoy a lot of those games. A lot of the press doesn’t though (apparently), so I can understand why many are frustrated with this year’s big conferences.
What I see as more of the problem is the fact that pretty much nothing was shown in terms of the Big 3 (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo), with the major exception being the Wii-U, which we already saw last year. No new hardware, no groundbreaking new ways to deliver game content, not even a Star Wars themed Xbox. It was just sort of dull, so the games that the companies got to highlight became the main spectacle.
Within that we saw mostly games we already knew about, sequels to established franchises and otherwise a lot of unsurprising things (one big exception to that was Watch Dogs, which instantly became a crowd favorite). But the problem is that we already get to see all of these games in action and straight from the developer’s lips on the showroom floor, so why soil the fun in some bombastic showcase showdown?
The point I’d really like to get across is not that we need to get rid of press conferences from the Big 3 or from Ubisoft or EA, but that there needs to be a little less in them. There’s way too much filler and emphasis on them, so a lot of people end up missing the point. The game industry is not just all 24/7 FPS games, all-day, every-day, but that’s the sort of impression you would walk away with if you took the press conferences as the sort of keynote for E3.
Maybe E3 needs a real keynote. Have every publisher come up and tell us the one thing they’re excited about and then we can sort of gauge what that’s like, then have a couple of “big name indie devs” tell us what they’re up to and we can react to that. Then each console maker gets 10 minutes to show us what they’re up to and that we get to see it later on the showroom floor. There you go, bing-bang-boom you know what this E3 is going to be like and then get to discover all the highlights on your own dime.