Tuesday, July 17, 2012

E3 Aftermath

Now that the dust has settled from E3 2012, I'd like to (finally) take a look back at why E3 2012 left me with a disappointing feeling. 

1.) Leaks and pre-E3 reveals

I firmly believe this is the single biggest reason E3 2012 fell flat for me. We knew about The Last of Us. We knew about Gears of War. We knew about Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. Too many companies are deciding to reveal games and news before E3 ever takes place. I would guess there are a number of reasons for this; namely, quality games risk being overshadowed by the heavy hitters. 

Many mainstream media outlets are beginning to question E3's relevance altogether. This only further strengthens that argument. Can you imagine the excitement and fanboy frenzies that would have ensued had Sony debuted Playstation All-Stars or maybe The Last of Us at their E3 press conference? 

Companies are focusing more and more on staggering their key releases, as well as staggering their hype for each game. This results in a steadier stream of satisfaction, but far fewer instances of sheer euphoria at say, a new Grand Theft Auto game debuting at an E3 press conference. 

2.) Overall disappointment from Nintendo

The company that revolutionized gaming - twice - seems to have lost its way. I'm a diehard Nintendo fan and in years past, I held them on an untouchable pedestal. Mario. Zelda. Metroid. Nintendo has the most iconic franchises in gaming. Period. So it's definitely a disappointment when we see the same ideas recycled time and time again.

Speaking of those three key franchises, only Mario made an appearance at E3 and that was in the form of yet another recycled 2d platformer. The New Super Mario Bros. games are great; however, I feel Nintendo is starting to run them into the ground. Hard to blame them when they continue to sell millions of copies. 

To Nintendo's credit, they held a separate E3 event mere weeks later. They revealed the new 3DS XL and several other titles gamers had been salivating over. 

If Nintendo can draw such an audience and have all the news to themselves, why show top tier games at E3 where you have share the stage with a plethora of other companies? 

3.) E3 shift toward mainstream

In years past, E3 has been for the hardcore gamer; however, in recent years, we've seen a shift to focus on not only the casual gaming market, but mainstream media as well. Microsoft has pushed a number of different video apps for its Xbox 360, as has Sony with the Playstation 3. Sony spent entirely too much time discussing WonderBook, a unique concept born out of the partnership between J.K. Rowling and Sony. Unique as it may be, it had no place being shown at E3 for such a substantial amount of time. 

Nintendo probably focused the least on apps, but their focus on the casual gamer was as present as ever. Titles like Nintendo Land have very little appeal for diehard Zelda, Halo, or Uncharted fans. 

In closing, we all know the video game industry is constantly evolving. Companies like Nintendo are starting to realize they may have more face-time by holding separate events where all eyes turn upon them alone. The aspect that saddens me the most is how the gaming industry seems to have lost the magic. Apple has perfected the art of unveiling new products, so much so that fanboys salivate and work themselves into a fever pitch over more memory, better cameras, and design tweaks. 

Don't get me wrong, each company has had an occasional surprise or a killer blockbuster title to reveal; however, those moments are happening less and less. Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony must find a way to bring back the magic. Whether they choose to do so at E3, or another venue entirely, remains to be seen.

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