I’m so very tired of all this. I’m tired of the conventions, the get-togethers, the anticipation, the high hopes, the waiting, the suspense, the reveals (which, most of the time, aren’t reveals at all), the questioning, the answering, the two-sided grins on the faces of the developers and their constituents. But most of all, I’m tired of the way we do it all over again, every single year. I’ve learned that most the things that are talked about at E3 are utterly meaningless to me. I’ve learned that by the time I get all excited over a new IP, I’ll be more excited over another game that’s coming out sooner. Then, after I’ve played that, I’ll focus elsewhere until a new game strikes my fancy like the one before it did. Sure, E3 builds hype, but building hype for the sake of building hype isn’t nearly enough for me. I want information, the likes of which is seldom given away at these sorts of conventions. I want hard facts. I want a no-nonsense, straight to the point, here’s-what-you’re-having-for-breakfast-lunch-and-dinner kind of convention.
Why do developers, publishers, and Reggie Fils-Aime seem to take pleasure in holding themselves back? Obvious answer is obvious: They make lots of money on it! The hype machine is endlessly spewing forth loads of cash for the people and the companies who talk about games, but don’t really talk about games. I’m pretty sure Bobby Kotick approves of this. You see, it’s all part of the plan. E3 happens every single year, and every single year, more and more people watch it, waiting with bated breath, squealing with anticipation when a familiar logo pops onto the big screen. And sure, it’s fun! I genuinely have a good time watching E3! For those three days when new games are talked about, I’m out there covering them just like any other gaming journalist does. But you see, it’s a cat-and-mouse game, and to the people playing, the average viewer is simply that: a viewer, a spectator, a useless and incompetent mass of flesh and bones who’s sole purpose is to quietly and quickly hand over their money to the professionals on their living-room TV. Yet, we all seem to follow this fatalistic doctrine, that on these three unremarkable days in June, the gate’s of Heaven will open and the three gods of video games will give us their Ten Commandments for the year. And even then, they can choose to change or even erase them.
But, some things are preordained, like the fact that I’m going to buy Far Cry 3 because it looks fantastic, but I knew that before even last year’s E3, when it was officially announced. The second I finished Far Cry 2, I knew I would buy the third one, if they ever made it…which they have. The same can be said for any big-name franchise, the easiest of which to go after is Call of Duty. Just think of all the copies Black Ops 2 will sell simply because of it’s fan-base. Sadly, I’ll probably end up getting a copy of the game, and I’m horrible at first-person shooters. But even if Black Ops 2 hadn’t been showcased at E3, I still would’ve bought it. You see, I’m no better than the average viewer–in fact, I’m worse! I report on all the rumors and speculation that goes on during the 11 months before E3 happens. I know what to expect, and when it comes true, I’m still excited for it! It’s only after E3 ends that I realize I still have to wait for something that I knew I was going to have to wait for in the first place. Last year’s E3 was the most eye-opening for me in this respect. When Nintendo announced the Wii U, I was genuinely excited to see a new piece of hardware hit the market. Of course, I knew it’s release was still a long ways off, but I was excited none the less. Flash forward to this E3, I knew that despite what I wanted Nintendo to announce, I knew that they wouldn’t.
An article by Farida Yusuf over on our sister site, velocitygamer.com, brings to light this very fact: Nintendo told everyone that there would be no new information regarding the pricing or hardware specifications of the Wii U, despite it being the main focus of their conference. Yet still, analysts are, as she puts it, “peeved” that Nintendo didn’t announce anything. The question is why is this happening at all? How can people be angry over something that they were told wasn’t going to happen? You see, this is one of the many problems I have with E3. Everyone automatically expects all the biggest reveals, all the game-changing announcements to happen simply because the people who make the big decisions are all in one place. But why? Why do we have to wait and anticipate for an entire year to hear a few announcements be made? Or for a new game to be talked about openly? Why can’t we simply let developers and publishers release new information at their own pace? Why do you think that some conferences are so bad some years? Why do you think that Nintendo always seems to disappoint us? It’s because they’re never willing to part with any pertinent information when everyone wants them to! Of course, I knew it’s release was still a long ways off, but I was excited none the less. Flash forward to this E3, I knew that despite what I wanted Nintendo to announce, I knew that they wouldn’t.
Let’s take a look at two of my favorite developers: Rockstar and Valve. Focusing on Rockstar, just how long has it been since they’ve attended E3? It’s been what, four or five years? But look at they games they’re putting out! Sure, Max Payne 3 came out before E3, but did they feel the need to make some big announcement about any plans for DLC during the convention? Nope. Any announcements about GTA V? Nope. Let’s take a look at Valve: Sure, they announced Portal 2 for the PS3 at E3 two years ago, but that’s an exception. Why do you think Valve takes their time when making announcements for any of their games? Because they tend to win Game of the Year awards, earn them lots of adoring fans, and make them millions of dollars. Why wouldn’t you take you time with that sort of a reputation? So, based of off the success of these two respected, world-renowned, beloved developers, it’s simply not necessary for every single announcement about a particular game or console to be unveiled at E3. There’s no need to tease audiences just to have them wait for an undisclosed amount of time, when you could have simply saved them the trouble.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying that E3 is a waste of time. It’s a great way to showcase new projects and technologies–but only if they’re ready to be shown. E3 is fun because of all the excitement that goes along with the seeing new things. But all that pomp and circumstance is useless if the thing that’s on display isn’t ready for people to use or play it. In my opinion, both Watch Dogs and The Last of Us are completely ready to be played. The developers have been working on them for a few years, and they earned the right to be shown in the main conferences. But on the other side of the coin, I seriously doubt that Wonderbook is ready to be bought by the general public. Just another example of this is Bioshock Infinite. It wasn’t at the show simply because Ken Levine said that it wasn’t ready, which is an extremely smart choice. And the thing is, I’m still going to buy it, regardless of whether or not it’s at E3.
There’s nothing wrong with E3. But there is something wrong with trying to impress people with things that either aren’t polished, or simply aren’t worth our time.