As someone who owns an NES, SNES, Genesis, 3D0, every version of the Gameboy, PSP, DS, PlayStation, Dreamcast, Saturn, Xbox, GameCube, Nintendo 64, PlayStation 2 and 3, Xbox 360 and Wii (phew!), I was always a big fan of games and the news that used to come in May at E3. And while my love of video games has cooled over the past few years, the recent E3 coverage has me thinking: what will the next year of gaming actually bring?
Although it isn't nearly as big as it used to be, E3 is still the industry's premier gaming event. With a slew of exhibitors and secrets galore, it's the only video game event that single-handedly captures the attention of mainstream media and non-gamers alike. But like most other shows (CES anyone?), many of the announcements and game footage never see the light of day. So for all of the excitement the show creates, E3 creates a sea of heartbreak in the following months.
So, what was covered so far at this year's E3? Well, there will be a new Wii Fit game that seems to have taken the show by storm, and Sony unveiled the newly redesigned PSP. Microsoft showed us Resident Evil 5 and a slew of other games, and Hideo Kojima promised big things for the Metal Gear Solid series. But for all of the highlights surrounding the show, will the next year of gaming reflect the best parts of E3? No way.
Sadly, the next year of gaming will reflect much of the banes of this year: porting, derivative gameplay and too many first-person shooters. Even Hideo Kojima, well-known creator of the Metal Gear Solid series, hinted at the possibility of MGS 4 not being exclusively available on the PlayStation 3, but later reports confirmed it will be--so far. And while the boons of this year's show (Super Mario Galaxy in November, GTA IV) and the rest of the hot games that will light up your consoles this year help to create a buzz, nothing tangible really comes out of this show. Granted, there are playable games on the show floor and the aforementioned games are a guarantee, but what about addressing the concerns gamers have?
As a person who spends some hard-earned money on video games, I would like to see E3 develop into something more than a place for companies to spew propaganda and show off "real" gameplay footage that proves to be as real as Paris Hilton's remorse. I understand E3 is about video games, but why can't it be about changing the industry?
E3 is the most popular video game expo in the world; it is the place media outlets flock to break the hottest news the industry can offer. And although the show has become a place for companies who normally don't get that kind of press to show off the moneymakers, there is no reason the companies can't discuss a vision for the future. Regardless of what anyone in the industry believes, great games come out all year long and some sell quite well without the hoopla surrounding E3. E3 doesn't need to be the best place to show off games, it just is.
But I digress. Once Madden hits store shelves in August, the video game industry will awake from its slumber, and an avalanche of games will be hitting store shelves. And while the all-stars will easily take the day, it's the unknown collection of titles that I will run to. SWAT: Target Liberty sounds pretty neat and hey, maybe another Ico-like game may hit shelves and take the niche market by storm. Unfortunately though, these games will be lost in the mix. GTA will be GTA and nothing more. Metal Gear Solid will prove to be the best game in the series and Killzone 2 won't compare with Halo 3. Bold predictions you say? Not really. Just like E3, history repeats itself.
Mario Kart for the Wii will probably be most people's favorite game of the year in terms of its fun factor, and Super Mario Galaxy will be as ground-breaking as its older brother Super Mario 64. The PSP will be white--and useless. Madden will be Madden and obliterate sales figures. Look for the Wii version to be the worst of the bunch.
So did I cover everything? I think so and that's the worst part. In the above predictions that may come true and may not, I mentioned two games that you don't typically hear about on a daily basis. All the rest were the old guard. And while people enjoy playing these games (and rightfully so), where is the innovation? Where are the new ideas? Sure, there were a handful of games announced (mostly on the Wii) that break the mold, but they're the exception, not the rule.
The next year of gaming will be much like the E3 of today. While the Entertainment Software Association tried to change the way the show played out (no pun intended), it failed to address the major concern we all have with gaming: lack of a vision.
While the Entertainment Software Association succeeded in reducing the number of people attending the show, the formula is still the same: ask the big players in to talk about all of the big names that will shape the following year. Let journalists play games. Plan for next year. The same is true for the big three (Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo): go to E3, talk about (mostly) big games and other successes, let people play games. Leave.
Sounds familiar, huh?