via The Brog
E3 attendee resting his eyes during the Nintendo's press conference. — Photo by Janine Dong
Full disclosure: My day job is currently requiring I work longer hours and do heavier lifting. I'm currently writing this after imbibing one hell of a riesling and several cupcakes. Don't judge, but recognize that I may not be at my sharpest.
I marvel at games on a daily basis. Like novels, paintings, and cinema — games are made to be thought of in the future-tense. At least, that's what I tell myself.
Much like the aforementioned medias, not all works are made to be thought of for that long of a time. If they are, consider it a happy accident. Who knew that portrait of dogs playing poker would be such a hit? This brings me to this year's unsettling conclusion(s).
Waggling The Dog
It takes great vision to, essentially, guess what millions of people will buy years from now. Can you do it? I can't. And I've watched, like, every episode of Mad Men. Years ago, Nintendo guessed that there was an audience out there willing to buy a system that was centered around casual play. Parties and such. You know, functions people like myself, rarely attend.
Microsoft guessed that their focus should emphasize online functionality and keeping as few Japanese games and people away from their system. It's also worth noting that the console shooter is seeing it's stride thanks to the foundation layed by the Xbox and it's successor, the Xbox 360.
Sony guessed, possibly the grandest. They created a new media format in the Blu-Ray, researched and developed the Core cell-processor, and decided that having a wide variety of content on an unproven HD, online-ready, console was the future.
I'm intentionally leaving out a fair amount, and truthfully, this glass of wine aint drinking itself, so I'm sparing the finer points. I'm also aware of the few people who read this and am opting not to hop in the middle of a fanboy war. I'll cap it with this. All of the systems succeeded and failed to varying degrees.
There is a wag the dog complex that's impacting gaming that has always, kinda been there, but thanks to this year's E3 2011 — it's even more pronounced.
See, it's not so simple as it was in the Genesis/SuperNES days. You could just increase the RAM and graphical processing power of a new console and focus solely on how games ran, and how well they played [speaking broadly]. But now, graphical fidelity seems to be more incremental. Uncanny valleys are being crossed and here I am trying to download Tetris on my PS3.
Every guess is becoming more expensive and taking a risk means spending more money. Or does it? When the Wii was introduced seven years ago as the next big thing, everyone laughed, until they started selling more than anyone initially predicted. The cheaper console that had the bigger promotional budget 'won' for the time being.
We were told that this was the next wave of the future. Even the competition and developers got on board. And now we are kinda stuck in a staggered evolution. Nintendo has seen it's greatest error in not allowing developers and consumers to invest in a hardcore element with it's console. Microsoft and Sony are still trying to figure out how to capture that soccer mom audience while maintaining it's hardcore base.
Here we see Kobe Bryant, not in the NBA finals mind you, demoing NBA '12 with the Playstation Move to an absolutely quiet audience.
Business As Usual
I'm not going to pretend like this is my official wrap-up and everything I'm saying here is my final thought on all things gaming or the gaming industry. I'm just jotting down ideas while this glass of alcohol intoxicates me to the point of a good night's sleep.
Out of tradition
of The Brog, I will post up a Clipstravaganza of what I found interesting in this year's E3 because, isn't that what this whole thing is about? The games.
The one thing I was able to pull from all these press conferences and publisher release notes, is that no one is particularly interested in showing you, the consumer, the actual game.
What I mean by this is, I'm not quite sure the goal of E3. The week prior, select journalists and judges are flown out to see the games and tech that will be unveiled the following week at the convention. The journalists write the stories their sites run the very second [sometimes a couple seconds before] the product is announced. I just said product…now I feel all dirty.
So journalists know a great deal of what will occur and have to 'act surprised' when they are announced. Not all, but most. The poor developers have to take time out of a gruelling schedule, to make a small portion of a game that may, or may not, make it into the final product. The journalists play this and base their judgements on it. Not exactly an accurate depiction of an early look at a game, is it?
The elephant in the room here is that, well, leaks. Everyone knew that the PSVita was being made. The new Nintendo system specs were leaked months ago and if you were wondering if your favorite, million dollar, triple-A title was getting a sequel, then you clearly haven't been paying attention to how this industry is trending.
No one was surprised [sorry PSVita price announcement] by much at E3, because of the age we live in. Which is is funny considering how the games industry seems hellbent on being on the cutting edge of something, always. I can't help but wonder why that is. Is the consumer pushing tech to evolve this fast? Is it to the point where we need to know what we don't even know we want yet? [Really hoping that isn't as confusing as I think it could be.]
Unfortunately, a lot of the press conferences' fanfare were replaced with incredibly scripted demos and corporate-speak. No company wants to risk showing the audience a personality from the game development-side for some reason. I think this is a bad move.
So What Have We Learned?
As it turns out, games are still fun. I mean, there may not be as many options as there once were, but judging by the above diatribe there were factors that lead up to this. The games industry will survive based on how ever many big-budget, first person shooters are needed, in order to justify those morethinky experiments in gaming.
Come to terms with this, because I have, and that just ain't the booze talking.
There are some red flags of the industry shooting itself in the foot. Like why would Konami introduce a cloud saving system called "transfarring", which [by the way] sounds stupid and I hate it preemptively. When Sony has already announced plans of introducing its own cloud saving system?
Have we not learned how to read what gamer's want? Or are we suggesting what they will like, whether they like it or not?
Why is it so difficult for any publisher or console maker [besides Nintendo for obvious reasons] at E3 to show a little love to the Japanese games they are working on or are coming out? Perhaps those motion control demos and look how awesome we are montages take precedent. I'll admit, when I was 15, I thought that kinda stuff was cool.
We can sit through as many poorly paced conferences and listen to an infinite amount of ill-timed jokes, but as these companies get older, it feels like they are losing their grip on their audience and the reality of this business.
Hmph. Games industry, losing reality, apropos if I do say so myself.