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Right after the GamesBeat staff got back from the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) last week, we started wondering if we were all at the same event. Despite a combined 38 years of experience attending the annual game-industry trade show, lead writer Dean Takahashi, culture editor Sebastian Haley, and I (GamesBeat’s editor-in-chief) came away from the 2012 edition with drastically differing opinions on what we saw.
Here’s what we thought of this year’s E3:
Sebastian Haley, culture editor:
I might be alone on this, but E3 was a disheartening experience for me this year. Sure, I’ll buy and love Borderlands 2, Dishonored, and a ton of other games that were shown off, but everything was just so iterative — from the countless sea of sequels and spin-offs, to even the press conferences that seemed to focus less and less on what gamers like myself actually want.
After years of being the punchline of the Internet, why is it so hard to make a good E3 press conference? Microsoft gave carte blanche to Nike and ESPN to talk as long as they wanted, but when it came time to show off the only three original intellectual properties (IPs) in the entire lineup, if you blinked you would have missed it. And even if you didn’t blink, you’d still have no idea what the games were even about. Then Usher and Joe Montana come out for awkward performances, and that’s supposed to make things better?
The industry more or less seems to be on autopilot, and I can only hope it’s saving up all its energy for a massive 2013. But again, maybe that’s just me.
Dean Takahashi, lead news writer:
The game industry didn’t have such a bad showing at E3. The traditional game publishers showed off new original games such as Beyond: Two Souls, The Last of Us, The Unfinished Swan, Dishonored, Warface, Hawken, World of Warplanes, and Watch Dogs. New technologies such as Unreal Engine 4, facial animation, SmartGlass, the Wii U, and Sony’s Wonderbook were cool. The staple franchises such as Assassin’s Creed III, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Tomb Raider, SimCity, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and Crysis 3 will keep gamers delighted and busy in the next year.
But like Sebastian, I also have high expectations of game makers in the core console market. And I’m not sure they have done enough to shield themselves from the disruption that is hitting their industry. This E3 was an in-between year. Next-generation consoles are in the works, but only Nintendo showed off its cards, and they weren’t very disruptive this time around.
From the outside, the game industry is under pressure. Apple is one of the driving forces of the real disruption, but it isn’t alone. Samsung announced at the show that it will create its own cloud gaming service in partnership with Gaikai and Nvidia. It will in effect become a fourth major platform for game makers, launching a cloud-based game service that could threaten the core console business. Apple and Samsung could bring cheap, high-quality games into the living room that could compete quite nicely against $60 games that come with the number “3” or “4” after their names.
This is a very real threat. At E3, I didn’t see a masterstroke to deal with it. There was innovation, but not enough of it to make a difference.
Above: The Last of Us
Dan “Shoe” Hsu, editor-in-chief:
Last year’s E3 only gave me one stick-with-me moment: the BioShock Infinite demo. It left me near breathless, and even though I don’t smoke, I felt like I needed a cigarette after watching it.
Nothing this year quite matched that, but three games came awfully close, all from my personal top 3 games of E3: Watch Dogs, The Last of Us, and Dishonored. I saw The Last of Us on the last day of the show, and it just put the biggest smile on my face. Right when that amazing, frightening, tension-filled demo finished, it cemented this E3 as one of the best in recent years for me. So I’m quite surprised at Sebastian’s reaction — this show was amazing! When was the last time so many new IPs surprised and wowed us like this? We’re always complaining about the sequel parades (and rightfully so), but it’s up to us to look past the flashy hype of the Call of Duties of the world to champion original games like the ones I just mentioned.
Nintendo Land and ZombiU on the Wii U were both pleasant surprises as well (though the latter proved to me that first-pers0n-shooter controls will take a lot of hand-eye-coordination reconditioning due to the controller’s new layout — a reconditioning I’m not sure I want to commit to). Even the known quantities got me excited again: I honestly thought I was over Halo and Gears of War, but both Halo 4 and the overrun mode in Gears of War: Judgment were a lot of fun to play in multiplayer.
I went into my 16th E3 jaded and thinking I’ve seen and experienced it all. I left a surprised, giddy gamer.