Today is really the first official day of E3, the major industry trade show for the gaming industry. The "Big Three" (Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft) have already said their peace and the reaction is a resounding "Meh". There's been more snark than shock, more trolling than triumph, and more sadness than success. What we got, primarally, out of them was puppet master Reggie, Reading Rainbow IRL and Microsoft staging the fall of the house of Usher. In watching these three conferences, seeing the live tweets flow on my TweetDeck by Anthony Carboni, ScreamingMantis and LittleKuriboh, among others, along with the overwhelming crush of boredom, it got me to thinking. A dangerous pastime, I know.
All of these trailers, this gameplay footage, it's all instantly going to YouTube and the like after it's announcement. Some of it is going before the conference itself, in the case of the game being shown that I'm most interested in right now Injustice: Gods Among Us (On that front: Hi T-Bone!) Things have changed since the heyday of E3 during the Nintendo/Sega/Sony days (or even the Nintendo/Sega/Sony/Microsoft days). The Internet was young and not nearly as immediate as it is now. You had to be there, or find a channel somewhere that showed it (which was just as rare until TechTV came more prevalent. Yes, I'm a TechTV stalwart, which is why you never bring up G4 in my presence.), to get any of the information about what was coming. The only source you had was these people. Now. Just go on YouTube 10 minutes later and everything's up to watch and re-watch. The hands on demos that the gaming journalist and editorial crew get while at the conference, they could just as easily be done as free downloadable promotional demos for said games for the public as a whole on the consoles themselves. Of course, something like the Wii U would not be possible, but that would be on Nintendo to just make a mini conference to show it off and forego all the hoopla. So the question becomes, why have it at all or, at a minimum, why hype it to the level it's hyped?
E3 is one thing: it's a giant gaming industry networking session. A lot of business gets done there for future development because it's one of the rare times when all the executives and a lot of the developers are all under the same roof. We, as gamers, need to check ourselves. It's not a gaming party, as most of us assume it is. That's what PAX is for, a far superior conference in my opinion. E3 is a trade show. It's no different than CES, a show that gets just as much press as E3. In fact, seeing where these consoles are heading, the hardware announcements would certainly make more sense at CES than E3. That could especially be true for Microsoft and the X-Box, in which during their keynote this year made it abundantly clear that the X-Box is no longer their gaming console but Microsoft's weapon of choice in combating Apple and the AppleTV in the set-top box market. Funny. My weapon of choice is usually a dancing Christopher Walken. But that whole section of keynote, a good 75-80% of the keynote as a whole, would have been much more suited at CES. As Jim Sterling tweeted: "I have watched this Xbox conference so long that I have now forgotten what videogames are."
That's been the overwhelming feeling over E3 as a whole this year. The bloom is off the rose. It's moving back to being an industry event and, honestly, it should be. It's been so overhyped on to what major announcements are going to happen, what showstopper's going to take place that there is no way any company will ever live up to those expectations. You're setting yourself up for failure. So stop the hype fanboys and girls. Besides, unless the LA Convention Center is rebuilt, it might not come back to LA to begin with. The bigger thought is, should it come back at all?
I'm curious to see what y'all think here. If you've got one, please comment. I solemnly swear I'm trying not to troll or flame or nerd bait with this. It's a bit of my stream of consciousness, which would be the most whacked out Psychonauts level ever. Oh, speaking of Psychonauts, buy the Humble Indie Bundle V now to play it, if you're foolish enough to not have already, along with Limbo, Amnesia: The Dark Decent, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP and, if you pay more than the average, Bastion. It's pay what you want and the money can be split between the developers and two charities (the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Child's Play) however you want. I know this seems like a weird tangent to end on, but it feels like this is the best happy note to end this article: Promoting truly awesome games under an indie label.