Each year, the same old song is sung by pretty much everyone: “man, E3 totally blew.” But this year’s was indeed the absolute worst one ever, and here’s why.
The entire train wreck can be boiled down to three simple reasons:
1. There were honestly no new games
It’s said at virtually every single E3, but with the exception of just two games, Watch Dogs and Beyond: Two Souls, there was legitimately NOTHING new from the movers and shakers this year. Everything presented were sequels, reboots, or rehashes. Some might also count Last of Us, but because it premiered at Spike Video Game Awards last fall, I say not.
Historically speaking, the best games come out often at the end of a console’s life cycle, which is exactly where we’re at right now. At this point, everyone knows all the ins and outs of the platforms, so all the stops are pulled. Mostly to keep everyone at bay, and especially because all the AAA franchises are being prepped for the new machine.
Games like Donkey Kong Country for the SNES, Vagrant Story for the PSone, and Shadow of the Colossus on the PS2, all out of nowhere gems. And there’s numerous more examples. Yet we technically have two and half for this current generation of consoles. And that’s downright pathetic.
2. No one knows what they’re doing anymore
E3 is where the big boys show what they have coming up. The primary audience used to be hardcore gamers, which made total sense, back when that was their user-base primarily. But things have changed over the years; it’s now moms and dads, casual gamers, who make up most of the pie. Hence why E3 has mostly become a show for them, and that’s totally cool.
Yet why then are hardcore gamers still being targeted? Now more than ever, E3 is ultimately a place for publishers to meet with distributors and said folk, to discuss business. So why live stream it to a bunch of angry 14 year kids when it’s no longer about them? And also give them a chat box to bitch and moan?
It has been proven, time and time again, that having a celebrity on stage to endorse some game that they could honestly give a rat’s ass about will piss off gamers. So why present said celeb to the sharks on a silver platter? How is this good business? Who couldn’t have seen the backlash a mile away?
And let’s not even get started on Nintendo, who felt the need to have multiple press conferences, yet didn’t even come close to explaining what the hell their new toy is about (which comes out in just a few months). Everyone likes to say that game makers don’t know who their audience is these days, which is still debatable, but you honestly can’t fault anyone for believing that this year.
3. Everyone all of a sudden became their parents
By far the most aggravating thing about this year wasn’t on stage, but the audience’s reaction. As noted several times already, many were offended by the gross display of graphic violence, and how game makers and peddlers should all be ashamed of themselves. And once more, my reaction is: seriously?
Again, video games have ALWAYS been violent. Sorry but I grew up on Mortal Kombat, but even way before then, lots of innocent looking old school NES games involved killing. Okay, the graphics were far more primitive, and you were mostly jumping on evil mushrooms, instead of emptying an AK47 magazine into a terrorist’s torso, so that’s kind of different… Or is it?
Will having ultra realistic violence actually turn kids into murderers? Isn’t that what our parents told us back in the day, and what religious and political pundits are still saying? So, do they all of a sudden have a point?
One game in particular that has gotten the most flack was the Tomb Raider demo that had Laura Croft getting assailed from all side, and her groans of pain has been equated to “torture porn.” Give me a break. Sorry, but there have been plenty of games in which the male protagonist goes through the wringer and the response is much the same.
It has been pointed out that this reaction is due to the gaming audience being considerably bigger and wider than ever before, and that the gaming industry should “clean up their act.” Fair enough, but having such a diverse audience means catering to a various tastes, which includes content that is not up your alley.
Video games have officially become equal to film and music; there might be a ton of folk enjoying whatever, but the money is still with the lowest common denominator. And it’s far better to accept this simple fact of business than acting all embarrassed over what one loves.