Developers Backing Out of E3

E3 is downsizing again (this time perhaps not by choice) after what feels like only a few years of returning to a larger show; Though now that I think about it I guess it has been about 8 years. We last attended E3 in 2008 during a year when E3 was made more ‘intimate’ and designed for mostly just the press to engage with the developers rather than putting on a spectacle for the fans. That was very short-lived and the convention returned to a full-blown hype fest once more.

The reason for the down-sizing this time appears to be developer driven. Many developers are simply downsizing or pulling out entirely due to E3 no longer making sense for them. EA pulled out of their usual huge floor space in the south hall in favor of its own events in London and LA. Activision, Disney, and Wargaming all just announced this week that they too will be abandoning the show in favor of engaging fans in new ways (or old ways if Disney sticks with D23).

People are speculating on the whys here. I think a few things are obvious.

Press are no longer gatekeepers of information and developers no longer rely on them to spread the word. Nintendo has been leading the charge here for several years and excelling on communicating with their fans — agree or disagree with their decision, they excel at constantly engaging. Most big developers are following in their footsteps with their own in-house teams.

Add in how big streaming has become, and the huge shift toward digital products, and the need for a huge convention to move boxes is becoming less and less important.

The “industry” in general has become less centralized. Again, this shifts toward individual publishers and companies having their own teams and relying on their own digital marketing efforts. I say good for them.

The question up in the air that I’m still going back and forth on is whether or not this is necessarily good or bad for the industry. Nothing really changes here for the press. This is more of a hit to that feeling of excitement people feel around June/July when E3 hypes people up for the rest of the year. Taking it a step further, it really only hurts people who actually attend. For those who sit at home, the conferences will still be broadcast. The companies will still showcase their own stuff. The press will still cover everything — just not at their event on their terms.

Developers have simply come to realize they don’t need E3 like E3 needs them.

Keen’s E3 Wrap-up

E3 can be summed up in one word for me: Expensive.  The past few E3’s have really left me feeling… not disappointed, but wishing there was even more.  This year, two new consoles and a ton of games were announced.  Both the Xbox One -and- the PS4 look great to me.

Kitty MarioLike Graev, I really don’t participate in the console bashing.  I want fun games; I buy consoles with fun games.  I own a Wii U, and I will eventually own both the PS4 and Xbox One.  For now, I’m sold on the PS4 being the first of the two consoles I buy, with the Xbox One coming as soon as I can squeeze a few hundred more dollars out of my paycheck.   My reason for going PS4 first?  Microsoft lost me when they took their emphasis off gaming.  It’s that simple.

Nintendo was my overall winner based purely on what excites me the most. I think Nintendo is really trying to prove they understand that everything they do should be catering to their fans. Just look at the list of games they showed off:

  • Super Smash Bros.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
  • Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
  • Yoshi’s New Island
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
  • Mario kart 8
  • Sonic Lost World
  • ‘A New Title’ developed by Monolith
  • Super Mario 3D World
  • The Legend of Zelda: WindWaker HD

[Read more…]

PS4 vs Xbox One

PS4 Vs. Xbox One

I hate E3. Seriously, I do. People act like it’s gamer Christmas for some reason that is entirely beyond my comprehension. The entire week is a stressful mess full of whining, screaming children throwing tantrums and insults at each other over the stupidest things. Well now it does sound like Christmas.

One thing that makes me embarrassed to be a “gamer”, labels aside, would be all the bickering that goes on between fanboys on any side of the arena. I still cant understand why some people act like it is illegal or a moral sin to like more than one video game brand. The only thing I can come up with would have to be justification and reassurance for their own product of choice because that’s all they can afford to own. There’s nothing wrong with only owning one console, though, but when you have to tear other people down just to build yourself up then you have some serious issues.

But yeah, E3… Lots of news about PS4 and Xbox One. I’ve been a fan of both brands for the past several years and thought I’d share my opinion on both systems. [Read more…]

Our Pick for Best of Show at E3 2012

This may sound like a weird pick.  You’d expect one of the AAA well known titles like all the major sites are picking, but we’re going a different direction. Out of all the games shown at E3, the game we want to play the most, and wish we had in front of us right now, is LEGO City: Undercover.

For the first time, the fan-favorite LEGO City vehicles and play sets come to life in LEGO® City: Undercover, exclusively for the new Wii U console. Players assume the identity of Chase McCain, an undercover detective armed with clever disguises. The mission is to put a stop to the fiendish Rex Fury and end his crime wave in LEGO City. As players run, drive and even fly through the city, they’ll use the Wii U GamePad controller as a new police gadget.

  • Open world exploration in a LEGO city that reminds us of something out of Grand Theft Auto’s sandbox city style.
  • Wii U controller gameplay shown appears feasible and fun
  • More than 100 vehicles

More on LEGO City: Undercover at Nintendo’s E3 site.

What was your choice for Best of Show?

[E3] Nintendo’s Conference: Games First

We love that Nintendo really shows and explains their games.  Nintendo knows E3 is about the games, and went out of their way during the presentation to focus on them.  Nintendo showed a pre-E3 briefing on the Wii U to explain the hardware, and will show a post-E3 briefing on the 3DS to showcase even more games.

Wii U

Nintendo revealed that the Wii U will launch this holiday season (no price yet), and with it’s launch window comes a decent number of interesting games.  Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition looks great. Sure, it’s a game that was already released but if you played the previous version you know that Armored Edition is adding functionality and changes to content.  Assassin’s Creed , of course, and additional/all-new titles we may have known about like Ninja Gaiden, Tekkon Tag, Aliens, Trine, Tank tank Tank, and Scribblenauts.

“Hardcore gamers” are bellyaching that Nintendo didn’t show anything, but we’re hardcore gamers -and- Nintendo fans. We saw plenty that looked amazing.  Pikmin looked fantastic, and utilized the Wii U Gamepad to control multiple characters are once.  New Super Mario Bros. U appears to use the same style that Super Mario World on the SNES had, a format we love, and utilizes some of the neat Miiverse features.

One of our absolute favorite games shown for the Wii U is Lego City Undercover.  It looks like an open-world game in the familiar Lego video game style that gave us a GTA vibe, but from the perspective of an undercover cop/detective.  Exploring a big Lego city and using the Wii U Gamepad simply looked like a ton of fun.

Nintendo Land, albeit a tech demo for the system like Wii Sports/Resort, did have interesting games that emphasized the asymmetric gameplay.

3DS

It’s still an awesome time to own a 3DS, and owning one is going to be even better in the coming months.  During their conference Nintendo unveiled a slew of titles in addition to whatever they’ll announce during their 3DS coverage tomorrow.

  •   New Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
  • Paper Mario: Sticker Star – fantastic looking!
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Mirror of Fate
  • Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D
  • and more titles we’ve heard already.

We feel Nintendo ‘won’ E3 this year, but it wasn’t hard given Microsoft’s lack of anything gaming related and Sony’s focus on third party support.  The Wii U is going to augment gameplay far more than the ‘waggle’ of the Wii’s motion technology, and we understand the asymmetric gameplay concepts.  Makes sense to us, and we’re anxious to play all the upcoming games.