The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is next week, and Reaxxion is here to give you a handy guide to help navigate the metric ton of information coming your way in the coming days (and oh so drunken nights). However, this won’t be your typical guide to E3: instead, it’s a primer of what you’re really going to get out of your gaming press at this years convention!
1. Fat, sweaty white men jabbing microphones into P.R. peoples’ faces
Say, you want a hot scoop on the latest in video games? Well, you’re not going to get it out of E3! Especially not from some video of a fat white dude all jamming a hot mic i to some poor game developer’s PR flack’s face!
What will you hear? The one game feature they are allowed to comment on. But that sweaty white guy didn’t hustle all over a hot, jam-packed convention floor to hear that, and he needs to fill the other ten minutes of the time they got scheduled. So expect a lot of questions that have nothing to do with the game proper, and a few minutes from the fat white guy’s open mic stand up act sprinkled in.
2. Poor E3 predictions
What video game website worth their salt would not have a podcast or article detailing all the things they hope to see at this years E3? Perhaps the website has a vaunted old wise man who has been to every E3 ever? Mayhap he is one of those chosen “few” who get to “judge” games via a “pre-E3 judges week?”
He will elucidate nothing in particular, except to further the disappointment of fans new to the whole “the games’ press is bad at E3” situation that has developed over the past few years.
Because they’re just personal wishlists rather than concrete evidence of anything coming out, do avoid these articles and podcasts if you see them.
3. “Who Won E3?” navel gazing
In the warm afterglow of E3 there arises a phenomenon known as “Who Won E3?” In it, the various games press outlets release publisher and manufacturer “scorecards.” Then they harp on for days and weeks about who actually “won” E3.
For those new to the whole E3 experience, it can be a tad confusing as you’ve presumably watched and read all the coverage coming out of the convention. It kind of all looks the same, right? Brown/Grey third person action game here, muted brown/green first person shooter game there, some weird indie game that was plucked from obscurity by a Sony or Microsoft to buoy their ridiculous lack of content for the current consoles everywhere. You’ve seen what’s on offer before, nothing has changed.
Depending on an editor’s chosen genre proclivities, it’s entirely likely they’ll pick the publisher that makes the games he/she most prefers. Most assuredly, it will NOT be Nintendo, which leads us to…
4. Nintendo bashing!
Oh yes, Nintendo has been a thorn in the games press’ side ever since it decided a few years back to eschew theater-size press conferences and start talking to the people that really matter: consumers. Their 2014 E3 Treehouse videos showcased all their products and allowed Nintendo to set the narrative they wanted to push out of E3.
The games press was having none of that then, and now you will see in most of their Nintendo E3 coverage a constant negative theme of “they crammed us in this tiny space” or “this demo isn’t particularly conducive to a convention setting.” Nintendo is now the worst ever, their demise is ever constant and imminent! You will likely read more about what Nintendo is doing to the games press than what they have on offer this year at E3. Which is just fine for Nintendo’s legion of fans, as they won’t be at E3 and don’t care as Nintendo CAN DO NO WRONG!
5. Extreme hype for games that aren’t remotely ready for demoing—let alone releasing—in the next two years!
A game’s “vertical slice” has come to bite a lot of game developers in the ass! They’ll focus on this one feature that makes the game stand out in a very crowded E3 field. The game mechanics will be razor sharp, as this is just a teeny tiny bit of a game.
Problem is, most of the time that is the only part of the game that is remotely done. Back at the developer’s studio, they are frantically trying to keep the game from catching on fire, and that cool one mechanic is perpetually breaking the game and may wind up on the cutting room floor come release.
“But who cares?!” Says the games press, “It‘s E3, surely this game will come together and be the best most awesomest thing ever!”… at the time. But if and when that game comes out, be warned dear game developer, they will crucify you if you didn’t fulfill all of your E3 promises!
This has long been a problem for E3: a polished game demo setting expectations a mediocre final product can’t even meet halfway. Luckily, if you happen to be wearing your Cynic-Vision® brand goggles, you can ignore the bulk of these games. You can tell who they are by how far out they are from being complete and just how “groundbreaking” the press hypes it. A game that is a few years away will change greatly and often, don’t be fooled!
6. “Where’s the Diversity?” hand-wringing
This has been more prevalent in recent E3s and 2015 looks to change none of that. Look for a few articles on the subject; not too many as the point is to plant the seed of seeming equality, not bash you over the head with social justice baloney. It appears mostly innocuous, but in the days after E3 several supposed video game websites post articles about the “lack” of diversity in games, the “lack” of gender fluidity, and if female protagonists are actually “female enough.” Chances are a lot of publishers and developers are going to be found wanting.
On the other hand, don’t be surprised to see several companies (I’m looking at you, Ubisoft) try and push a lot of product aimed at the social justice crowd. Then look to see that the social justice crowd doesn’t care and will find something wrong anyway, because there always HAS to be something wrong.
7. “Who’s This All For?” grumblings
If you’ve been following game coverage for any length of time, you’re bound to notice burnout amongst your favorite video game sites “personalities.” There was a time when those who grew tired of the “business” would move on: into game development, public relations, community management and so on. But in this tough economy, no one needs a person with inflated entitlement issues and a severe over-reliance on hyperbolic sentiments to join their company. So the “personalities” stay in the games press and stew in their self-loathing.
This resentment and cynicism has now bled into their work, so you’ll get a fair amount of “Who is E3 for?” or “E3 is over” in your video game podcasts and articles about the convention.
Sadly, the giant corporations that own most video game websites view E3 as the only reason the vast majority of video game websites get to keep their lights on in the first place. The ad revenue alone from the week of E3 is predominantly why they pay for a bunch of cynical manbabies to trot around the Staples Center for a week and complain about covering it.
On a recent Giant Beastcast podcast, a listener wrote in to ask about all the E3 complaining and there was a lot of walking back from the general E3 complainy talk from the hosts that precluded this e-mail and admissions that they had gone to E3 for many many years and were just tired of it. So, why go? There are hundreds—nay, THOUSANDS—of people that would rather go to E3 as a “job” instead of what they do for work.
It’s the sentiment that struck me the most in the wake of GamerGate. This notion amongst the games press that the whole debacle made them want to leave the industry. When they got no sympathy from the vast majority of gamers and the realization set in that there are tons of fat white guys who can get overexcited about a game trailer then write something about it, they shut their mouths about it rather quickly.
Perhaps E3 should become more open to the public. It’s done wonders for PAX. Hell, most of what developers and publishers are showing at E3 is going to wind up at a PAX near you. Instead of reading and watching some asshole who doesn’t really want to be there, play the game, do it yourself and write about it! Everyone wins!
8. The Last Guardian
The Last Guardian was announced six years ago. It’s reportedly been in development since 2007 and the games press won’t stop talking about it at every E3 since it was announced!
Look, I really loved Shadow of the Colossus, but The Last Guardian still isn’t doing it for me. If the game is more Ico than Shadow of the Colossus, then I’m out. Ico was poorly designed, twee horseshit. The idea of attempting to get a griffin-German-shepherd-thing to push around blocks to solve puzzles isn’t what I’m looking for these days. With Fumito Ueda ostensibly out of the picture at Sony, does anyone really think this game is going to be released any time soon (or ever?), and on top of that be any good?
Well, that wraps up Reaxxion’s guide to E3 2015. I hope you found the information enlightening and one day soon, we hope to see you on the show floor!
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