What E3 2013 taught us
E3 is one of the most exciting weeks of the year; whether you’re into videogames or maize based cheese snacks and energy drinks, there’s something for everyone. It isn’t just about gaming and the industry it pertains to, because E3 is also a very educational time, where the jaded minds of adults lament over the showmanship attributed to selling electronic shit you didn’t even know existed, and young minds have their heads blown with an over-enthusiasm for games sped up 200%, with everything unlocked, at resolutions you’ll never play them on, being presented on the latest PC hardware – invariably 300% more powerful than the end user machines.
If there’s three things we can attribute to E3, they’re not these: honesty, information, pride. So what did we learn from this years show? Well, here are 5 things I can think of, right off the top of my head:
#1 Nintendo smile a lot when they feel awkward
Reggie Fils-Aime is notoriously bad at convincing me to buy a Nintendo Wii U, a console I was admittedly initially interested in. When talking to Geoff Keighley about third party core-gamer support on the Wii U, Fils-Aime ballacheingly kept referring to Mario, Wario, Yoshi, and Donkey Kong as the primary reasons to buy a Nintendo console. Of course, the end result, when asked what there was for everyone else was: nothing. “Listen,” Fils-Aime repeated over and over again. “You buy a Nintendo for all those experiences,” he said referring to the gazillionth iteration of Mario.
Nintendo are “doing their own thing,” they say. What they don’t say, however, is that Nintendo’s own thing is alienating third party publishers and delivering hardware comparable to projects you’ll soon be seeing on Kickstarter. It’s cool if you like Nintendo games, nobody has a problem with that, but it seems that not even Nintendo are prepared to comfort Wii U owners currently using the unit as a door stop. “Who knows what the future holds,” they say – something I’m sure instills a lot of confidence in their stock holders. Who am I kidding, 90% of Nintendo stock holders are probably 23 year old American women with green hair living in a suburb of Florida.
#2 Sony’s marketing campaign is about not being Microsoft
It all seems a bit redundant now that Microsoft have pulled the bullet from their splattering self inflicted foot wound out with their own yellow teeth. Microsoft’s marketing campaign, coming next, was a total flop, and the only cheers and claps in the audience were purportedly Microsoft staff ostensibly paid to be enthusiastic. You can share your game with up to 10 family members! Who gives a shit, I hate my family. That’s why I play games.
On the other hand, Sony unveiled a $100 cheaper unit, with a considerably more powerful graphical processing unit, despite on par specifications in other departments. No trading restrictions, region free, and no camera that’s constantly intruding on your sex life. It was a no brainer for everyone in the room, and whilst I admit I liked the look of RYSE, we later found out the demo was sped up 200%, with all the finishers unlocked. They weren’t QTE’s afterall. Transparency!
Sony even took time out celebrating to make a viral video on the fly depicting Sony’s trade in method staring none other than the head honco of the whole shebang. How to trade: pick up the game, shove it in the fuckers hands, and walk away. It’s gaming gone right, and basically everything Microsoft did, Sony didn’t. It was hilarious, and it still is. I’m literally laughing right now.
#3 Microsoft are shit
Listen here and you listen good, you can’t make 2893892 wrong decisions in a week and then be praised for overturning them. That’s not how this works. If I punched your sister in the face, then apologised, I would still be the sum of the initial act. I wanted to punch your sister in the face, but you made me stop. I’m still the dude who wanted to punch your sister in the face, and Microsoft are still the guys who want to impose all these rules on its consumers. Insert Godwin’s Law reference here.
Microsoft want to create larger and more numerous revenue aisles for publishers, licence holders, and stock holders. They have a huge market in the US, and they know that – on paper – their unit will sell despite a ‘concentrated out-cry’ from small but audible commentators. In other words, what they wanted to do looked okay on paper, and that’s business. There’s a reason PR was darted around E3 like elite guardsmen, and there’s a reason ‘not all the information’ seemed conveniently available at the time.
After E3, the Army got pissed off, because online necessities meant a lot of servicemen would be without their (I’m not being sarcastic) completely necessary departure from the field – gaming. There was also the matter of region locking, which meant that anyone in Afghanistan, for example, would be stuck playing discs within that region. What’s more, Kinect was a potential national security breach, because – as they put it – who knew what it was picking up? It’s not just 14 year olds pissing into bottles whilst playing Call of Duty who own Xbox consoles, although that’s their largest demographic. The demographics on the peripheries of their target audience matter too – but what do they care? It’s an all in one entertainment unit for the whole family, which is definitely what gaming is all about… according to 1970′s marketing materials for wood-finish home consoles.
Microsoft are completely out of touch, and they failed to realize that you can’t necessarily push ideas on people with a few perks, which also happened to come with more restrictions than they were worth. In the end, you had to be a law student to make sense of anything they were saying, and everyone realised that there would be actual repercussions for Xbox One ownership. It was a chore… an expensive, elaborate chore. Now, most of what was most-mad has been reversed, and they’re currently enjoying Xbox fanboys claiming how, since they’re not doing all the shit they wanted to do, they must be basically Jesus or something. I want to punch your sister so bad, but I won’t, because you don’t want me to, so I guess I’m an amazing person.
#4 You will fucking enjoy Kinect.
People ask why Kinect is integral to the system this time round. Well, the answer is simple: it’s such a bad idea, so ingrained in the alienation of classic, comfortable gaming experiences, that if it’s optional, no one would fucking bother. Wii fit has been delegated to assisting the tiny from getting cans down from higher shelves, and Kinect was such a tragic misuse of income that a lot of people who went ahead and bought one aren’t entirely peachy about it. It only seemed to work in those massive rooms you see on sitcoms that don’t actually exist, and it turns out gamers aren’t really into waving their arms about, and dancing. It butchered Star Wars, and it butchered our laziness. Have you no shame?
Kinect 2.0 is considerably better, but since the premise it was born out of is so inherently shit, that doesn’t really matter. The point is this: Kinect comes with Xbox One because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t buy it. If you didn’t buy it, no one would develop for it. If no one developed for it, Microsoft wasted all of the money invested into it. That would make shareholders about as happy as my 13 year old brother upon the ending of Mass Effect 3.
This all ties in with the whole ‘Xbox One is created for hardware and software producers, not for consumers’ theme that Microsoft really cannot escape now. “We think that…” is something they’re spewing out more than Peter Molyneux in a one man monologue at the West End. You think a lot of things, but you seem to be making a lot of u-turns. Windows 8 gets a start bar, Microsoft Flight alienates FSX fans and burns, and now the Xbox One is getting its DRM proposals from a marketing campaign laughing at Microsoft. Do you think? I mean, it doesn’t really seem like you do think.
#5 People care more now than ever
You can’t get away with shit now’days. Partially thanks to Reddit, and partially thanks to 4Chan – Reddit’s autistic cousin. If you present something at E3, prepare for every single aspect of it, and what it implies, to be analysed by millions of people who really do give a shit. Marketing is a mega-industry, and in gaming this is no exception. Whilst it’s true that we all get excited by the pomp and showmanship, there’s an underlying suspicion when anything looks too good, or is presented too enthusiastically. I’m not going to buy Peggle 2 because a fully grown man jumped into the air and fist-pumped. I just don’t need that in my life right now.
Sony are as bad as Microsoft in this. They exploited consumer outrage at one of their competitors with finesse but no poise, whilst Microsoft presented, apparently, all their games running on an Nvidia GTX 780, when they were so proud of the AMD built APU in the Xbox One. No one is honest, but it’s not about honesty. Problems arise, however, when people sit on SpikeTV’s annoyingly uninformative couch, saying things like “well, we’re not really concerned with what our competitors doing,” which is the journalistic equivalent to putting your hands over your ears and shouting “nur nur nur I can’t hear you.” They care about the competition, which is why marketing campaigns are so violent. They always have been, and they always will be. Lest we forget the great war of Sega and Nintendo, where over 5,000 people died in the battle of Sonic vs Mario.
The Console Wars should exist, because they’re electric, and funny, and the internet would die if it weren’t for them, and porn. That said, anyone who sits back and looks at this stuff objectively will find little pockets of logic and non-logic spurted around the rhetoric. E3 is a dying breed – at least it were if it didn’t get all its money from ad-revenue and purchasing your spot at the event. Almost no one other than games journalists takes it seriously, and that’s really the way it should be. It’s a playground wherein a bunch of children stand around, drooling, claiming their pappy is strongerer than yours. That’s why it’s so funny, and that’s why there’s so much backlash. People got smarter, and pretty lights and air-pumping isn’t enough to sell us your product anymore. You can’t lie to us, you can’t trick us – we are Anonymouse. We are Liggin. We are always watchin’, we are nearly always there (at least, we leave a tab open).