Pr-E3 Blues: A Personal Perspective

electronicentertainmentexpoThis is the first time in 4 years that I’ve not been scrambling and hurrying to get things ready for my trip to E3. I wish I could say I was disappointed because there is the faint chance that this year E3 might be something more akin to a sane version of my first visit to the LA convention center in 2006.

However I can’t help wondering why E3 excites anyone anymore.

Sure, Microsoft, Nintendo and to some extent Sony all hold their big announcements for the first few days of E3 week, but after seeing these events in person the last three years I can safely say I’m not missing much by watching the Internet televised versions live. You can look back at the coverage of the last few years but I am beginning to wonder if all the hype, all the constant media controlling isn’t just a giant waste of time and energy.

Nintendo will no doubt offer their usual performance – claim great plans and a renewed sense of energy and announce more of the same. The Wii was a lifesaver for the company but it feels a bit like they are resting on their laurels waiting for the rest of the game space to mimic them. This is a big difference from the Nintendo I recall of 2005/2006 when the Gamecube was wilting away and the Wii was an unproven concept. Sure, we get it.. the Wii is popular, lots of people who normally do not play games bought one.. but from the perspective of someone who has long supported Nintendo I guess I’m jaded and tired. This isn’t a new sentiment – lots of “fanboys” cried foul as Nintendo went from underdog to overachiever the last few years, and frankly I’m happy that the company has succeeded.. I just feel like Nintendo is that friend I hung out with for years who went away one summer break and came back 50 lbs lighter and with double D breasts that suddenly everyone was paying attention to. Sure we’re ostensibly still acquainted, but I’m not sure I’m happy with the relationship as it stands now between us. Its great for Nintendo I’m sure.

Sony and Microsoft seem to be mimicking Nintendo and lets face it, business 101 says if you see something working for someone else you should adopt a similar strategy and personalize it to maximize your success in an industry. Microsoft’s news the last two years has been mostly focused on attracting the Nintendo goldmine.. games like Lips, You’re in the Movies and SceneIt! received more play than they deserved frankly (not because I dislike these games.. but because they didn’t really work to capture their target audience and didn’t attract the die hard gamers either.) Sure Microsoft had Fable II, the Final Fantasy XIII announcement, Fallout 3 DLC exclusivity for a short while and GTA IV DLC… but in the end it all felt aimless to me. The one area they seem to be making their mark is on media center functions like the Netflix player and this year the rumored Hulu integration through Xbox LIVE. I spent the better part of my gaming year on my 360 in 2008 but I’m just not catching the same fever this year I guess.

Sony is reliable these days – they will go after every market, they have the most expensive system with some of the best exclusive games but again something just feels off to me. Maybe I’m jaded. Ratchet & Clank’s online experiment seemed a success, PlayStation Home is a confusing failure from what I a can tell.. and LittleBigPlanet is still one of the most innovative pseudo-games ever made. I feel like Sony is lacking identity. It has the big media ties, the better hardware and the most fresh intellectual properties but I have no idea where it is headed this year.

Rumors abound before every E3. Motion controllers and new cameras are rumored for the 360 and PS3 to compete with the Wii. A new slim PS3 design and UMD less PSP both make sense. The message of the event just feels more diluted as the 3rd party publishers who largely abandoned the event the last two years in favor of media days and events where they could control the message and attention of the enthusiast press became the rule. I wonder if there is a need for E3 anymore. We’re in a competitive 24 hour news cycle every day, announcements have different impact than they did even 3 years ago because so many outlets exist and so many opinions exist. I feel lost in the fog, wondering what makes E3 week any different than the week of Activision’s Gamer’s day event or Square Enix’s big solo junket.

Maybe its fatigue. This industry can wear on you I guess.. the endless hype cycles, the ceaseless hyperbole from enthusiast press and public relations folks alike.. I just wonder, as we prepare for E3 2009′s coverage, what you really want from us? You can and will get exclusives elsewhere thanks to the access of sites like Kotaku and IGN and GameTrailers that we can’t offer. I’d like to think you want perspective, analysis and insight with the news, and maybe that is why you read a particular bit of text over another. We’re not diving in with quite the gusto this year personally but we’re committed to posting the news that resonates with our staff. While we do write these posts for our own edification, it’s important that we understand what you, our readers, value in the coverage we deliver.

Please, take this opportunity to let us know.

I can’t speak for Steve, Ron or Eva but I want Gaming Today to accomplish the task of entertaining and informing without taking itself too seriously. This isn’t a website covering a major diplomatic conference or world-changing social program here.. its about games and it should be fun.

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1 Comment on Pr-E3 Blues: A Personal Perspective

Ron Whitaker

On May 29, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Unfortunately, I’d have to agree. I mean, there are a few games I’d love go see in person, and there are a few people I’d love to meet up with again, but on the whole, I’m glad to be staying home this year.

I may turn out to be wrong. After all, the new look of E3 may mean that things go back to the way they used to be, and the third parties that Shawn mentioned begin to focus their energies on the conference again. Only time will tell.