The Modern E3 Conundrum
I love this time of year, I really do. I revel in being caught up in the wave of hype that leads up to E3 every year. The anticipation of new games, the excitement of fancy tech, the humour of awkward celebrities talking from a prompter. It is a crazy time where I put my well-worn cynicism aside and just let myself go along for the ride. The only problem being that in this modern day the E3 ride seems to going for much longer than it used too and I think that is to the detriment of the whole experience.
Back in the dark ages when I first started taking notice of E3 the hype cycle went something like this. I would grab a Pre – E3 issue of my favourite gaming mag, pour over what they thought was coming, get excited and finally wait for the news from the conferences to hit the web. Quite the short trip don’t you think? But now days we have the super sneaky need for people to find out what is coming ahead of time, couple that with an insatiable appetite among gamers for a constant supply of news and it means that games are being revealed weeks before E3 by companies just trying to stay ahead of the game.
While it is great for me as an editor of a gaming site (it gives me plenty to write about after all) I can’t help but wonder if it takes the magic out of gaming’s biggest event. The anticipation and wonder of old has been replaced with an attitude of “we know what is coming, just show us more.” There are very few surprises left in E3 conferences anymore. In fact I think about the only one that stunned anyone last year was the Tomb Raider exclusivity deal announced by Microsoft. In 5 conferences and over a 3 day show there was one honest to goodness shock.
And I guess that is what I am looking for from E3 at its most basic level. I want to watch the conferences and be wowed. Not by games I know are coming (not taking anything away from those titles) but by brand new exciting announcements. I want Peter Moore to walk on stage and just yell Knights of the Old Republic 3. I would love Reggie Fils-Aime to give the camera that infections grin and tell the world about Nintendo’s brand new IP. If Aisha Tyler simply walked on stage, picked up a controller and started playing Blood Dragon 2 I would lose my mind. This is the shock and awe factor I want from E3. As nice as it is to see more about Battlefront, Halo 5 or Assassins Creed, I know these games are coming so they just don’t carry that surprise factor that I think is essential to making an entertaining event.
Possibly the best example of this whole problem was the recent announcement of Fallout 4. I think by confirming the existence of the new game before E3 Bethesda may have missed a trick. If they had just let that speculation bubble just that little bit longer I think the announcement would have had even greater impact. Everyone was expecting a new Fallout but with the history of false leads and hoaxes no one was 100% sure we were going to get it. This meant that if it was announced at E3 it would have made Bethesda’s first ever conference even more memorable and given their part in the proceedings a real impact boost.
I guess what my biggest issue is here is that the modern day E3 seems to lack the theatre of the early years. This is of course a matter of personal taste and I am sure there are many people out there that enjoy the slow drip feed of information coming out in the lead up to E3. For me though nothing beats a good old shock and awe campaign from a confident publisher swaggering on stage and announcing surprise after surprise. It is what makes E3 so special and I hope that we haven’t lost it forever.
I am interested to hear what you all think though. Is E3 less exciting due to the lack of surprises? Let me know in the comments below.