E3 is not for us. I’ll say it again. E3 is not for us.
I will go on. Let me catch my breath.
Every year E3 comes along promising a tectonic shift in games. Maybe it’s some title that will come out of nowhere and win ‘Game of Show’ like some hopeful Cinderella with a twinkle in her eye and dirty coal-covered feet who just wants to share her dream. But based on the teaser shown at the press conference, she’ll turn that coal into raw, next-gen, gun-totin’, adventure-fueled power and deliver herself safely into everyone’s living room come Christmas.
But doesn’t happen at E3 very often. And when it does, it can set off a wave of cynicism about how the sequel was greenlit a day after release. It’s certainly not going to happen now, at the end of a console cycle, before stats on the upcoming consoles have even been released. As far as E3′s go, this one is at the point in the Father Time life cycle where it isn’t going to break new ground–it’s just going to try not to accidentally swallow all the wrong pills until the next consoles show up, like three Baby New Years, and take his place.
Bring on the sweet release of console death!
E3 is a gigantic, expensive, hootenanny of a carefully-coordinated PR square dance that has almost nothing to do with getting you to buy a game. It is about trying to be louder. And it can be louder by showing certified sequels to certified hits proven to do certifiably well.
That’s the nature of this game. Now, they could throw some risky new IPs up there and gauge the crowd’s reaction but that wouldn’t make any sense. Why? Because E3 isn’t about you, the gamer, the fan.
E3 is for people mostly not even in the building. E3 is for the shareholders. And the shareholders aren’t screaming “but where’s the new IP?!” They are off somewhere doing something else, probably involving shareholder meetings. They will take notice and start screaming for a new IP when the company gets down to the last profitable franchise it can’t choke the life out of.
E3 isn’t for us. And we can complain and complain, but the truth of the matter is this: big, publicly-traded, media companies CAN’T make it for us–because then the shareholders would get super-angry and litigious about what they were showing. This is absolutely true. They are huge companies held back by their very public nature. To even get the leeway to allocate any money to put some marketing push behind a lesser-known game they want to support, they need a huge cash cow IP they can replicate to feed the beast.
So we aren’t getting E3 back (as if it ever was ours in the first place, which I tend to doubt). What can we do? As gaming communities, we can support the smaller developers’ efforts of games we do think look really good. If they have a booth at a Comic-Con or at PAX or something, drop by, play the game, chat with the developers. Follow them on Twitter. That’s where the real stuff is going to be.
Also, there are a simply amazing number of rad independent games coming out. Some independently published, some not. But vote with your money! If you want to see more Papo & Yo and less trailers for Advanced Tactic Race War, then spend your loot on P & Y. And when you ask your friends why they bought the Race War game and they are like, “umm action gun zipline thermal….I DON’T KNOW ANYMORE” show them there is a world of under-publicized, awesome games that they have better and more direct access to than most of E3′s current offerings.
And hey–if one of these big companies takes a few chances on good quality games that are pretty inventive? Buy them. Show your support with your dollars there too.
All that said, I hope all the many shareholders have a fun E3 for their portfolios. For everyone else, I hope you find more content than bombast.
by Sean Baptiste AKA (Baron Barometer)