E3 2012: Part 2 – The Conferences

As E3 comes to a close, enough time has passed to really look at the conferences of the Big 3 (Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft), and see what they did right and what they did wrong. Coming into this E3, Microsoft had spent an embarrassing two years hyping up Kinect, and downplaying their exclusives. Sony had been sticking to a predictable, yet strong plan of pushing out exclusive titles; and Nintendo had been busy hyping new hardware sometimes successfully (The 3DS) and sometimes less so (The Wii U). This is likely the last year without a next gen announcement from either Sony or Microsoft so we are at the peak of this generation, which both means that games are coming out with a quality that we haven’t seen before, and that the Big 3 should be shifting their resources to the next gen. This year’s E3 wasn’t spectacular and there were no major announcements or shocks. As it is there is plenty good and bad to talk about with each conference, so that is how we are going to break today’s post up.

The biggest shock of the show is that I have a graphics department

The Good

By far the best thing that Microsoft did this year was not focus on Kinect. They actually struck a very good balance between focusing too much on it and completely abandoning it. Had Microsoft done this in previous years instead of letting Kinect run the show, maybe there would be a couple fewer complaints against them. The other big thing that Microsoft brought forward was of course Halo 4. Unlike Halo 3, which was hugely attacked for its poor graphics, Halo 4 seems like Microsoft’s A-game, even if, like most shooters, the main story will likely be totally ancillary to the superb multiplayer. I cannot really praise Microsoft for showing off multiplatform trailers, as that doesn’t really benefit them at all, but the trailers that were shown at their conference, especially the new Tomb Raider game, were excellent.
Master Chief is used to being a one-man-army, but as the only decent exclusive, is that wise?
The Bad

Microsoft didn’t focus too much on Kinect, instead they split up the conference between Kinect and their uninspiring SmartGlass. There is nothing inherently wrong with SmartGlass, in fact, it looks quite promising, but it was seriously out of place. It has very few gaming applications and seems like it would have been more at home at one of the many tech conventions rather than at E3. Microsoft’s biggest problem was of course Halo 4. Not the game itself, but the fact that Halo 4 alone had to shoulder the conference. Microsoft doesn’t have many exclusives. That is a problem, and Halo 4 drew attention to this fact. I would cite Usher’s ridiculous appearance as a negative against Microsoft, but that kind of thing is par for the course at E3, so Microsoft gets a pass here. 
I’m sorry. You realize you are at the biggest video game convention of the year right?

The Good

Basically, Sony has some really promising exclusives coming out. Like the recent E3s, Sony’s main priority was flexing its strong lineup of exclusive titles, and that is exactly what they should have done. Pushing Playstation All-Stars Battle Royal, Beyond: Two Souls, and The Last of Us, really showed gamers that Sony is not ready to bow out of this generation yet, which was excellent. On the Vita side, despite justifiable confusion, it looks like Sony will be enabling all PS1 Classics for the Vita and not just the 7 titles they mentioned (By the way, that was very badly communicated). This opens up the Vita’s library considerably even though the PSP and Playstation 3 have enjoyed these privileges for years. Really, it is bringing the Vita up to the standard we expected at launch, but whatever. 
Damn do I hope that there is better gameplay in this than in Heavy Rain
The Bad

How is it that Sony pushed Playstation Move more than Microsoft pushed Kinect? Move is very dead at this point. At least the Virtual Boy makes a chilling tale, but the Move has just been floating around. I don’t understand the sudden support. This is good for Move adopters, but bad for people who care about Sony wasting time. While the Playstation 3 aspect of the conference was very strong, Sony really fell down on the Vita. Simply put, there was nothing announced then or since that would inspire confidence in the machine. To be sure the Vita is a great machine and what has been announced for it like Soul Sacrifice, Assassin’s Creed Liberation, or Little Big Planet Vita, look great, but there was no push for the system. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but the Vita needs it badly and Sony really dropped the ball by favouring the Move over the Vita. 
Who needs exposure when ye have Pirates! Arrr!

The Good

Like Sony, Nintendo really triumphed on its exclusives. Pikmin 3, Paper Mario Sticker Star, or the very hard to distinguish New Super Mario Bros. titles for the Wii U and 3DS, Nintendo was really able to pack in some great games. If they are able to make Nintendo Land a free game with the Wii U, Nintendo will be giving gamers a lot of incentive to buy their new system. The 3DS was not hidden at E3 like the Vita was. Nintendo proudly showed off its handheld and showed some truly great games for it; although, they mainly just showed more of previously announced games. On the Wii U front, Nintendo was able to show off the usefulness of its Gamepad and show off some of its multiplatform games. Gaining multiplatform games next gen is a major step for Nintendo as that will familiarize developers with the Wii U’s hardware and encourage better ports. Without multiplatform games, Nintendo would be doomed to rely entirely upon its first party like last generation.
Sacrifice to the whale bug!
The Bad

The fact of the matter is that we still don’t know much about the Wii U and that is a problem. This E3 was Nintendo’s time to shine with the Wii U, and they just didn’t go far enough. A firm date, price and bundle would have been a significant step. In reality, we still don’t know how graphically superior the Wii U is to current gen consoles. There is a lot of speculation at this point and that is a bad thing. Nintendo should have had something ready to dazzle the audience so the only thing people would be talking about is how great the system is instead of wondering if it might be weaker or the same as the PS3. The uncertainty around the Wii U is a mistake as Nintendo isn’t going to get another E3 to push it. All they have left is TGS (The Tokyo Game Show), and that is really late for major announcements and reveals for a console that is supposed to arrive this holiday season.
Ubisoft shouldn’t show off your console better than you, Nintendo.
In the end all three companies did some things right and some things wrong. This isn’t one of those years that one company has clearly stood apart from the others like the year Nintendo announced the 3DS (Weird how quickly people turned on it after all the praise it got at that E3). However, it still isn’t that hard to separate these companies into first, second, and third place, but you aren’t going to be seeing that today. I’m sorry, internet, but you’ll have to tune in on Saturday for my E3 Awards Show where we’ll talk about the best and the worst this E3 has had to offer.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

One thought on “E3 2012: Part 2 – The Conferences

  1. Very informative! Can't wait for your awards! Especially if you comment on some of the new things shown. *cough*SE's Luminous Studio Engine*cough* Also, I really do like the new look, definitely smoother!

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