Three more host face the Platform Nation community with three questions. The video game industry’s circuit of shows begins in six weeks with E3. With all of the recent changes to this beloved event (restriction of non-media into the show, developers and publishers dropping out of the ESA, moving the event to different venues, etc), is E3 in trouble by all interested parties?
This week I asked INFECTEDPB503, community manager of Platform Nation and host of ‘XBL Radio’ .5 series, MIK, host of ‘The Fanboys’ podcast, and Edie, host of the ‘Gamehounds’, three questions.
Q: Given that E3 is about 6 weeks away, do you feel that it will deliver like last year’s?
Infected: “Will it deliver like last year? Did we get any really big news out of E3 2007? We got to see COD4 in action–with a non-playable demonstration, and a price cut on the now discontinued 60GB PS3. If I remember right the big winners were Rock Band and Burnout Paradise, one turned into a huge hit and one being a cult classic. With everyone talking more about how spread out it was over to what was actually at the event; I don’t see how it could be any worse.”
“We are expecting some big games later in the year: Too Human (not present at E3 07), Little Big Planet, Spore, Gears 2, and whatever we don’t know about. So I would say it has to be better the 07, but then with a couple big companies not even showing up it may just end up being the same old show. That’s why everyone should be going to PAX!”
Mik: “I didn’t think that last year’s E3 really delivered much in the final analysis. Microsoft talked about games we already knew were coming and Nintendo served notice that they were willing to chase casual gamers at the expense of their core supporters. And Sony offered more promises that sounded great, but still haven’t been realized. Even so, I don’t think we can expect too much more from this year’s event. E3 is becoming less relevant by the year, as more companies host individual gamers’ days in order to own 100% of the press, rather than sharing it with dozens of other exhibitors.”
Edie: “Simply being back at the LA Convention Center is a marked improvement! Of course, that means the return of the $8 hockey-puck hamburgers — you’d think that a major-metropolitan convention center could do a better job with food than your local middle school. I think the content won’t be as good as previous years, mainly because so many of the ESA member companies are either boycotting or on the verge of mutiny. However, the media coverage can’t help but be dramatically improved simply because people won’t have to slog all over Santa Monica to get to where they need to be. Bottom line, it will be better than last year (hell, almost anything could!), but it won’t be as good as E3 2006. I think the days of E3 being the premier gaming show are over. There’s more community enthusiasm about Penny Arcade Expo than E3 this year.”
Q: Who will have the strongest and most successful E3 showing this year?
Mik: “I suspect that MS will repeat their approach from last year–focusing on the excellent titles they have slated for this holiday season (things they’ve already revealed). It’s a smart move, business-wise, but it makes for a pretty lackluster E3 showing. The real question for Microsoft is who takes up the mantle from Peter Moore as the spokesperson for the platform? I’m secretly hoping for a reprise of the complete train wreck that was Jeff “GOLDEN AXE!” Bell.”
“Sony has much in common with Microsoft this year. They’ve also largely tipped their hand for 2008 and, like Microsoft, they have a strong fall lineup (I’d say marginally stronger, based on what’s known), but could benefit from a surprise or two. If the new game from Team Ico manages to get revealed during the event, that would be enough for them to get the nod from me. Sony has also lost their charismatic British spokesman and will have to rely on the wooden delivery of Kaz Hirai to stir the crowds.”
“Nintendo reportedly has a couple of big titles up their sleeve, but I don’t think the rumored announcements of Animal Crossing or Kid Icarus will really qualify as the kind of megatons that E3 was once known for. I’d expect more of the same from the Big N too–lots of love for the casual market, lots of boasting about how many consoles they’re selling, and lots of smug grinning and posturing from The Regginator. However, since the least is known about Nintendo’s fall plans, I think they have the most potential to surprise and delight this year. I’m just not holding my breath for it.”
Edie: “I would have said Activision/Vivendi, but wait, they’re boycotting! And Ubisoft has already shot its wad. EA always has strong showings, and I don’t expect that to change. Bethesda will probably show well, too. As for console producers, of course Sony and Microsoft will have big, showy presentations, and I predict we’ll hear an announced price drop in the Xbox. I certainly hope this year Sony actually delivers on what it promises… LittleBigPlanet, Home and let’s not forget Afrikaaaaaaahhh? Any time now, Sony! But my eyes are firmly on Nintendo. The Wii has proven itself exceptionally strong in the hardware sales, despite a near drought of strong games. If the Wii is going to really be taken seriously, now will be the E3 where it will have to put up or shut up when it comes to games and network. For the last two years, its debuted “things to play games” at E3. How about something compelling to use these “things” with? If Nintendo comes out with another piece of interactive plastic, I’ll personally turn my Wii Fit into a Wii Nutcracker — and not the kind for walnuts, if you catch my drift.”
Infected: “Which ever “plastic instrument” company shows up will have the strongest E3. We know Activision, and Neversoft will not be in attendance, meaning Guitar Hero will not be present. MTV Games will be there, probably showing something to do with Rock Band 2. Konami will be there probably with Rock Revolution. So if these are all playable games with all instruments then the one the press likes the best will be the winner of E3.”
Q: What, if anything, would you like to see happen to E3 to make it more appealing?
Edie: “Two words: Kentia Hall. Prior to 2007, this was the real “convention” part of the show. It was where the little guys with the crazy ideas might just become the “next big thing.” If the new, improved E3 becomes strictly a mainstream developer and publisher showcase, it will have permanently lost one of the most precious things about E3 — the crazy, wacked out small-business ideas. Remember, the Falcon controller and Guitar Hero debuted in Kentia Hall. Lose that and you’ve lost a huge, fun segment of the gaming market. I don’t know if bringing back the Kentia booths is part of this year’s E3. If it is, I’m piddling my knickers about it. If not, it’s a loss for everyone who really cares about games.”
Infected: “I would like to see it opened to everyone. More information is always a better thing. More opinions from real gamers as opposed to paid journalists is always a better thing.”
Mik: “It’s definitely exciting to have a big trade show devoted to the industry. I’m pretty much glued to my PC throughout those three days, absorbing all the information I can. But, in terms of receiving new information, I find the singular company events to be more valuable. Media outlets are able to spend more time with each game and, as a result, the coverage tends to be much better. So, I guess I’m really indifferent. I wouldn’t really mind if the event just faded away. It seems to be on that trajectory already.”
E3 was always such a joyous time for gamers around the world. This really would drum up the hype for each system, developer, and publisher. Are we seeing the end of E3? I certainly hope that we are not. Perhaps the ESA will take notice of all of the things happening and open it back up to the public. The ESA also needs to lower the costs for publishers and developers, since their outrageous prices and the lack of faith in the leadership are working more as repellents.
Next week, three more hosts, three more questions. If you have a topic you would like to see the hosts of Platform Nation address, email those to eternal @ platformnation.com.