What? That's It? (E3 2008)

Like most people, I fear change.

I recently heard an adorable and completely true tale from some forgotten corner of the world of a village that elected their long-time mayor back for another term despite his all-too-common condition of being dead. Soft pitch jokes about politicians aside, I was particularly amused by one of the interviewed voters who defended his necrotic choice for elected official by stating that he didn’t like change.

How powerful our basic nature to resist change despite its immutable certainty. We hold fast to the familiar, indulge in our own personal traditions long after their usefulness and relevance has passed. And so, I am reminded of this as I invest myself in the middling irrelevance of another E3.

If you had wondered if E3 was now truly a relic of bygone days, hobbled permanently by the slapstick bunglings of the ESA, then this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo ought to just about wrap things up for you, which will make it easy to tie on a block of cement and toss the whole mess into the East River.

At this point the big three have made their big E3 case to audiences and consumers and the only thing we can say with any certainty and enthusiasm about these presentations is that they happened. We have visual evidence. Beyond that, I have an easier time getting my blood pressure rising watching The Golden Girls while on pain medication than enduring tedious press conferences from Sony, Microsoft and that one company that has forgotten we dedicated gamers even exist--Nitoden or something?

Oh, it’s not that the conferences were completely bereft of life—except maybe the one by the Big N; I’m genuinely concerned that there needs to be a warning not to operate heavy machinery after watching—but in comparison to E3s of old, these presentations were tame as a sleepy puppy. The biggest news so far in the entire conference is that a game we’ve known exists for years is now going multi-platform and still probably won’t be released before I have grandchildren.

I realize the commentary of how E3 of late is a shadow of what it once was may be wearing thin, but even after I’d decided not to attend this year I still had no idea how decrepit the shambling corpse of a show was going to be, set loose into the LACC, toothless and misguided, wandering around moaning and making a general nuisance of itself for the roughly forty-two journalists who decided to actually get on a plane and attend the living funeral. This slack jawed, incredulous expression on my face is not surprise that E3 is bad this year.

This is surprise at how spectacularly bad it is.

Yes, I realize that the ESA has had an unpleasant year, navigating to uncharted areas of irrelevance under the incompetent leadership (or some facsimile thereof) of a former Bush technology advisor with all the tech credibility of an abacus. Yes, I know that in general the members of the once useful organization are in open rebellion and splintering off in mighty chunks, but still, it’s embarrassing when you throw yourself a big yearly birthday party and almost no one attends. And those that do attend bring you socks for a gift.

That is what Sony’s carbon-copy presentation this year was: a three-pack bundle of socks wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper with a hole where the bow used to be before it got caught in the car door.

“Hey, look we’ve got Little Big Planet, Resistance 2 and Home!”

Yeah, we knew that last year.

“But, we also have God of War III!”

You see this, Sony. This is my pulse. This is how I already knew you were making God of War III. It doesn’t exactly take a divining rod and a spirit guide to figure out that you guys are finally reviving a key franchise, particularly not when the news has made it an all but foregone conclusion.

And yet, this announcement was a highlight in a year where window dressing and peripherals were propped up to be the star of the show. It was like watching Hollywood dump $300 million into a summer blockbuster and then tagging Kathy Griffin and Abe Vigoda as the stars.

I get the feeling that should you skip E3 coverage entirely, take a long nap through this dog-day week, and wake refreshed and bright eyed at the end; the number of significant things that you missed out on could be rehashed with a fairly concise text message.

FFXIII 2 360, GOW 3, RB2 list pwns & GH sux! LOL. L8r

Having attended the last great days of the show, where new game announcements assaulted you like muggers in the street, it’s hard for me not to be disappointed. I recall with heady nostalgia days before I could attend. Evaporating hours spent glued to screenshots and brief tantalizing news bits about games that would seed the population of my daydreams for weeks to come. What was once the Mecca or Jerusalem of gaming has become Poughkeepsie or the New Jersey Turnpike. A functional place, meaningful in the most mundane terms, but otherwise uninspiring.

So here I sit, watching things I don't care about to grasp some shadow of the joy that was once E3 week. I am a heroin junkie shooting motor oil in my veins to see if that will give me that once sky-breaking high. I feel like any moment now, maybe right after I post this article, the big E3 pomp and circumstance will bang into life and the announcements will flow like ambrosia, because this is what E3 is supposed to be, and somehow I just can't let it go.

The mayor is dead, but I don't like change.

Comments

Wow. Absolutely nailed it, Elysium!

It's true...less megaton announcements, everything generally already known, and some announcements just not there like I would have wanted to see.

But...

At least "The Conduit" will bring 16-person multiplayer with voicechat via WiiSpeak to my Wii... To me, that's all I really wanted to hear!

http://www.nintendowiifanboy.com/2008/07/16/e308-the-conduit-will-use-wiispeak/

I hit E3 today and it is a shadow of a shadow of its former glory. Security was absent. I didn't register, show an ID or anything. Just pretended I belonged (technically a wristband was reserved for me), was just handed a wristband and sent on my way. Scary how lax it was. But then again, E3 probably needed the "seat fillers" (no joke -- they should have pulled from the seat-filler line for the Espys which was just next door at the Staples Center and surrounded by security).

The biggest hit on the floor today was ... wait for it ... Rock Band.

Even the audience for the 3 pm taping of the G4 broadcast was tepid and small.

But the parties are still fun (if, unfortunately, disproportionately male), and WHO doesn't like a good party?

One thing I like about the current E3 is the lack of game announcements. It feels like the reason there are so few new game announcements and new game demos is because more and more games are being released year-long rather than simply dumped on us by Old Man Winter. I'm happy for that; as a twenty-something I actually have some spare income and don't just get my games on Christmas and my birthday so it was annoying to get everything between October and December.

It might mean E3 is that much less relevant to the modern video game industry but, y'know, that's a small price to pay.

Spot on. This man speaks the truth.

My thoughts, pretty much exactly.

What's that?You agree with me?

I guess i'll just repost what i said in that thread.

Many developers have said that they will announce games closer to their release and this is the reason why this E3 will/is sucking for announcements.
Basically we’re in the stop-gap year where we’ve already had games that have been announced for 2-4 years and will be released this year. Rather than ruin their future plans the publishers will instead save their announcements until the relevant time – i.e. next year or later on this year.

I found it pretty amusing that some blogger thought it was worth his while to spy on Sony's press conference rehearsal. Really? Was it that mind-blowing? God of War III?

If almost everything for Microsoft had not been leaked already, would some of their news be worth paying attention to?

Son'ys event consisted of Downloadable games that probably will not even have demos, and in total add up to $60 or so with what looks like only LBP and Resistance 2 this year.

Microsoft looks like they are aiming more for the families, but you would still need a Gold account for every family member on Live.

I have been trying to keep up with the E3 news this year, but it felt like I was missing tons of the news, as I saw so few stories, it turns out that I did get all the news, there just has not been much to report on.

bnpederson wrote:
One thing I like about the current E3 is the lack of game announcements.

I just realize that I love this as well. Don't get me wrong, I'd love an Apple-style "This game will ROCK YOUR FACE OFF. And it's available RIGHT NOW at all game stores nation-wide." But the E3 of yesteryear was a gauntlet of stuff that you wouldn't be touching for at least a few months. The counterbalance to this is that (aside from FFXIII), we were shown things that were either obvious, puzzling, or unimpressive.

In fact, it was E3 that broke my habit of checking Fileplanet for my PC game demos and such. That freaking site was useless for a few weeks surrounding E3. No you douches, I don't want to see some damned video about HL2, I WANT MY DEMOS.

If you hadn't "misplaced" your Pillow of Heterosexuality you would have so gone to E3.

I think E3 could be shifted into a happy medium. Move it earlier in the year, say march or so, and focus on the games released this year.

It could be an announcement for some games, or more tasty info on known games. (A solid Fable 2 demo would get my blood pressure up.) Everyone wins.

Nintendo confirmed they're working on a new Pikmin game, that's all I needed to hear.

Poughkeepsie is not a functional place, meaningful in the most mundane terms, but otherwise uninspiring. It's much, much worse. A place I get to see every day. However, the bright spot is that all roads lead out of Po'town.

Lets face it most people just do not care about E3.

I am a serious gamer, whatever that really means, and I never really cared nor followed E3.

The fact that E3 is a shadow of what it use to be is no big deal as I never thought the show brought me any value any way and that is counting the booth babes.

I don't hear much from indie developers at E3 anymore, and they're the only ones who have any chance of surprising me with something new and different. But hey, did you see that trailer for God of War III? Looks like it'll have Kratos!

Nyles wrote:
I don't hear much from indie developers at E3 anymore, and they're the only ones who have any chance of surprising me with something new and different. But hey, did you see that trailer for God of War III? Looks like it'll have Kratos!

And a bad attitude with swearing! And blood! Buckets of blood! And I'd bet there'll be oogaba to cement that "mature" rating!

I really, honestly don't get all the love the God of War games get as being some sort of adventure game revolution... I played most of the way through the first, and so often it just got so repetitive. Advance two screens, fight a bunch of enemies. Advance two screens, fight a bunch of enemies. That's not bad gameplay, but it's nowhere close to the inventiveness that Super Mario Galaxy showed in many spots, for example. Even Ninja Gaiden, which was the same basic premise (advance two screens, fight a bunch of enemies) feels less repetitive due to the deep fighting system in the game. Haven't played Ninja Gaiden 2 yet (it's at the top of my game queue but Gamefly hates me) or God of War 2 (just had no interest) so I can't judge the new releases.

[edit]Let me recant my thoughts slightly since I re-read that and it came off as nothing but negative comments on the GoW franchise; I do have to say that the boss battles I played in God of War were actually quite awesome. And I'm not ripping on the game's technical achievements either (that was REALLY impressive visuals for the PS2!). Great soundtrack, too. I'm not saying it's a bad game. Just doesn't seem to meet the high water mark that so many people made it out to be.

I never liked E3 and I never will. I can never forgive it for the death of my son. [/kirk] Er, no wait. I mean, I never cared for the saving up of announcements so they'd coincide with E3. It was information overload and I hated it. I could never figure out what was coming out that I cared about because there was just so much damn crap being announced all at the same time that I simply did not have the patience to wade through it. I for one am glad E3 is effectively dead.

Farscry wrote:

I really, honestly don't get all the love the God of War games get as being some sort of adventure game revolution... I played most of the way through the first, and so often it just got so repetitive. Advance two screens, fight a bunch of enemies. Advance two screens, fight a bunch of enemies. That's not bad gameplay, but it's nowhere close to the inventiveness that Super Mario Galaxy showed in many spots, for example. Even Ninja Gaiden, which was the same basic premise (advance two screens, fight a bunch of enemies) feels less repetitive due to the deep fighting system in the game. Haven't played Ninja Gaiden 2 yet (it's at the top of my game queue but Gamefly hates me) or God of War 2 (just had no interest) so I can't judge the new releases.

You've got the right attitude about the God of War games. They're not the pinnacle of gaming, and they occasionally make huge missteps like throwing in a bunch of generic enemies to pad out a long corridor fight. If you generally didn't like the first one, I don't know why you would like the second. It's bigger, better, and slightly less frustrating, but definitely more of the same. I liked them, and I'll surely play the third one, but feel no need to promote them to anyone else. Sony will probably promote God of War 3 just a little bit anyway.

I've mostly ignored E3 in lieu of working on my pile. What I gather about the next generation of plastic rock has piqued my interest, however.

But that might be because I already own an electronic drum set.

Maybe it's just me, but as I said in the forums, I am more interested in what is coming out next week then at the end of the year or next year. E3 is the Symposium of Empty and Broken Promises. A big hype show where companies say a lot of words, throw a lot of colors at you, and then may or may not follow up on anything they've said.

The over-the-top hype machine has just worn out its welcome in my house.

ilduce620 wrote:
At least "The Conduit" will bring 16-person multiplayer with voicechat via WiiSpeak to my Wii... To me, that's all I really wanted to hear!

http://www.nintendowiifanboy.com/2008/07/16/e308-the-conduit-will-use-wiispeak/

Well there's something I would've liked to have learned about on Tuesday. So... I just found out there's a new Pikmin game for the Wii in the works...

Listening to all he E3 veterans, it seems the thing that is missed the most is crazy Kentia hall full of the weirdness. That needs to be brought back, make a large area with cheap booths, limit it to 4 games a booth so that all teh weird little publishers with just a few games can show up again.

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/imagecache/article_image/files/article_images/reggiethatsit.jpg)

What's Chief Tyrol doing at E3?

On a side note, I bet the big devs are glad E3 is dead.

All that marketing money can now be funneled back into making their games better...

...Oops, I meant the execs could give their hard working employees that week as much needed vacation...

...No wait, what am I saying, it means adding the cold-weather package and rear hot tub to their new private planes!!!

I get the feeling that the only reason people care so much about the Final Fantasy XIII announcement is because it was one the few announcements actually made. Elysium summed that up perfectly. Not to mention the fact that I don't think it hurts the PS 3 as much as people seem to think it does. It'll probably make about it's sales in Japan as has been the case with most other Final Fantasy games, and it is still on the ps 3 everywhere else anyway.

Rat Boy wrote:
IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/imagecache/article_image/files/article_images/reggiethatsit.jpg)

What's Chief Tyrol doing at E3?

Telling everyone how big his Wii is...

Ba-dum-pssh!

I was about to say that's how big he thinks his e-penis is.

I thought Elysium wanted more things announced as surprises, a couple months before the game was ready to sell.

And what better time to do that than E3?