Do the E3 press conferences matter anymore?
E3 is soon upon us and the hype train is at warp nine as if we were destined for another Borg attack. But like the ill-fated Borg which never could seal the deal at conquering and assimilating the galaxy, despite their hype of prowess, will this year’s E3 conferences be their swan song? I should be excited for them but I’m more interested about the Tokyo Game Show which is still months away and I don’t even speak Japanese.
E3 has a double-edged sword this year playing for and against it’s success; Sony’s PS4. Sony and Microsoft both decided to try and up the hype train to maximum by having their own pre-E3 showings, and while Microsoft decided to show off the Xbox One, Sony played the waiting game to keep it hidden for E3. But this begs the question that is the inherent flaw of E3 this year, why even have a pre-E3 launch if E3 is that important? If Sony had decided to show off the PS4 at their event then what will be left to get excited for?
The first reaction would be the games but again the cat is out of the bag with the pre-E3 showing for Sony. Fans know a lot of the games that will be or could be shown at the event, and while rumours are spreading of something secret and awesome to be unveiled by Sony at the event why not keep it top-secret and really surprise us? Watchdogs and The Last of Us are exciting choices to look out for but we’ve already seen lots of gameplay and trailers for both. SquareEnix might finally show a new or old Final Fantasy but that horse has been so flogged to death that a phoenix down won’t save it. Microsoft played it cool by keeping a lot of their new IPs a secret, and while there is mass speculation on what they could be from a new Halo to a legion of Kinect game, they kept some mystery to their line-up.
What about Nintendo? The gaming giant which has wowed us for decades with fantastically awesome and bombastically disastrous showings will not even have their own conference at E3 this year, instead content to wait in the shadows and let Sony and Microsoft have their Final Fight showdown. Maybe they saw the writing on the wall and decided to save money from putting on an unneeded conference.
This E3 is going to be judged by the success of Sony’s conference because the PS4’s physical reveal is all there is realistically left to be astonished by. Microsoft will be in PR mode trying to fix their disastrous pre-E3 showing. Maybe if seeing what other kind of train wreck will happen on their part, or if Sony causes a train wreck of their own, it will be a memorable event. But again if that is all we as a gaming industry are getting hyped about then what is the point?
I am holding out hope something by someone pulls a Houdini and just mystifies us with a new IP or product. If that fails to happen then good luck E3 conferences; prove you still have some relevancy left in the tank instead of being considered worth less than a pre-event.
Written by - Dane Smith, Japan editor for PlayStation Universe. When not out on the streets of Nagoya wondering why no one is looking for a Yakuza-style showdown, he can be found cracking open the newest RPG to hit the shelves. You can follow him on Twitter or read some of his past musings.