Tuesday, June 5, 2012

E3 2012: My thoughts on the Big 3

It's with mixed emotions that I step back and view E3 thusfar. We've seen Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all reveal their plans for the upcoming year and beyond, and the fact that this industry's in a transition has made itself pretty apparent. With gimmicks seeming to take prominence over big reveals in both Microsoft and Nintendo's conferences, it was a little too refreshing to see Sony's devoted almost entirely to games; which was, I thought, anyway, the biggest reason we turn these systems on to begin with.

Microsoft's conference was, to me, not too different from their last couple; a major focus on the Kinect add-on and non-gaming features being added to Xbox Live. The continued rehashing of IP such as Fable, Halo, and Gears of War. Long demoes devoted to Activision products. I have to say that it's just not my thing, and while Kinect owners should be happy that games will be coming to the device...eventually, it's just not a method of play that's ever interested me, and, as a person who has owned an Xbox 360 since 2007, I felt a little left out, which I'm sure wasn't Microsoft's intention.

Their showing was somewhat redeemed in my eyes, however, after I watched Nintendo's total mess of a conference. I may not like the direction Microsoft has chosen to take their Xbox 360, but it's one they're sticking to and one they've confidently presented. Nintendo...

I swear, watching their conference, I almost don't feel like Nintendo's living on this planet. It was a showing that they should have nailed; they're the only ones launching new hardware this year, and they went into E3 with such momentum. And yet, as their showing went on, I could almost feel the hype and energy deflating from the room. This is the year they had everything to prove, and yet they gave us almost nothing. We're supposed to be excited about a montage made up of games we can already (or soon will be able to) buy on our Xbox 360s. We're supposed to be thrilled that the Wii U has "HD visuals" as they present us with games, including games developed in-house, that look no better than current generation software. If the Wii U is truly a console capable of next generation visuals, that wasn't evident anywhere in this presentation.

I don't understand how Nintendo, a company with Retro Studios and Monolith Soft under their belt, felt the need to spend time demoing Batman: Arkham City, a game from last year whose visuals already look alarmingly dated. I was off the train even before they began trotting out Wii Fit and Just Dance 4.

The Wii U remains a mystery to me. Despite Nintendo devoting an entire press conference to it, I have no idea what type of online features it will have. I don't know if it's a next generation console or an Xbox 360. I don't know if it, like the Wii, will be a system where fans will have to literally beg Nintendo of America to bring over games with any substance, like we had to with Xenoblade and The Last Story. Is it possible that Nintendo was completely oblivious as to what was expected of them? Based on their showing, they have not created a next generation console, and amazingly enough, they don't even seem to realize that they were supposed to.

What I took from this conference is that the Wii U will be another system overloaded with Mario titles and a casual focus, with a cool-looking and gimmicky controller but last generation hardware: another Wii, in other words. In this case, a system meant to stall for time until the Xbox 720 and PS4 arrive and crush it.

I guess like last year, I have to declare Sony the winner by default; the once-king spent this entire generation in 3rd place, and the humbled company made it a point countless times to thank their devoted fanbase for their support. Despite issues with their presentation's pacing, (cut down on the long game demoes, Sony, that way you have more to show) there's little doubt that, content-wise, they were the king. And their games look great visually; hell, they look better than Nintendo's "next generation" titles, which is a pretty bizarre concept if ever there was one.

It will be interesting to see where the industry heads. Microsoft is sticking to their guns and  continuing a strategy that has obviously been successful for them. Sony seems to be doing their best to win gamers back over before trying again in the near future with the PS4. Nintendo, though, is a mess. They don't have the right idea with the Wii U: its controller won't have the same appeal among casuals as the Wii did, and, based on what we've seen, graphically it's doing nothing but playing catch up to current systems. HD capabilities and current gen ports alone may be enough to interest some of the casuals who Nintendo brought onboard with the Wii, though many have been gaming in HD on their smart phones for quite some time. And hell, I'd pay for a Zelda game with Xbox 360-quality graphics. But in the end, the Wii U does not look like an essential purchase. It looks like a system I'll be able to buy for $150 2 years down the road when the Xbox 720 and PS4 usher in the real "next generation" of gaming and it's left behind in the dust. Sad but true.

Microsoft= C
Sony= B
Nintendo= D


  1. I didn't even watch any of them this year

  2. no offense but microsoft should have been way down from nintendo

  3. Adam: You didn't miss a whole lot, gotta say.

    TheDemitri: MS did pretty well considering the fact that the 360 is on its last legs. This time next year we'll be seeing the reveal of the new Xbox, if not sooner. Expectations of them are far lower, imo. Nintendo is launching in new hardware and ushering in the next gen; they had to do far more than they did.