This will be my third E3 and a terrific reason to reboot this blog I’ve been shirking. (In fairness, I’ve been shirking it because I’m teaching myself C# programming so I can make games of my own.) The first two Electronic Entertainment Expos were work, work, and more work for next to no pay, and they were a blast. In both instances, my love of video games was rekindled at a time in my life where I feared it might be extinguished forever (seeing the big-screen debuts of both Skyrim and BioShock Infinite within two hours will do that to you). This year will be different. The consoles are different. The atmosphere of the industry is different. And the games… well, those are pretty much the same.
And that’s kind of the problem.
Things are changing in the world of video games. This past year has seen the underrepresented among us finally start to get some of the respect that the typical 13-year-old white male nerd demographic has been denying for years. Females are playing games now! And even making them! And sexists, racists, and homophobes are starting to get shot down instead of encouraged! Even Feminist Frequency is getting some respect, albeit begrudgingly.
There are new consoles coming before the end of this year, too. But they don’t seem like that huge of a leap from the things we’ve been playing with for the better part of the last decade, and I’m far from alone in saying that. And the Wii U? This is probably Nintendo’s last chance to show that what they have to offer is an experience you can’t get anywhere else. The only way they’re going to do that is with more, quality games.
Know how many Wii U games hit North America in May? Four. The only one of those four that wasn’t a port of an old game was Fast & Furious: Showdown, and the best score that game got out of all the reviews on MetaCritic is a 40/100 (the 360 game – the Wii U version hasn’t garnered a single review). Not great. But have you tried Nintendo Land? Like, actually played it? It’s Fun with a capital F.
It is a very real possibility that this will be the last generation of home video game consoles. Steam and the always-innovative indie community will keep PC gaming alive indefinitely, but development costs, marketing stumbles, and a constant, generalized animosity in the air is doing no favors for that $500 chunk of technology sitting under your TV. People are just… mad. I don’t think there’s ever been such a sour mood pervading gaming like there is today.
Developers are mad that their game isn’t getting promoted on the main page of the Xbox Marketplace. Hardly a week goes by that a studio – no matter its pedigree – goes under. Gamers feel constantly slighted by on-disc DLC, the war on used games keeping prices too high, and games that don’t even work. *coughsimcitycough* And then they get called entitled for expecting a thing they just paid $60 for to do what those glowing pre-release reviews said it would. People don’t want more of the same. But the only way to fight it is to vote with your wallet, and EA, despite getting voted “The Worst Company in America” (again) has a stock that’s just about doubled in less than a year. So why would they stop what they’re doing?
And that’s ignoring the fact that over half of the hour-long Xbox One reveal a few weeks ago just showed how your Kinect is going to be a remote.
Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony all seem so out of touch with Gamers Like Me™ now. The Wii U launched before it was ready – the fact that Pro Controller support wasn’t added to their flagship Mario launch title until this last week is proof enough of that. The Xbox One is trying to be the multimedia devices that we all already own. And the PS4… well, it’s got a touchpad, I guess. That’ll get about as much use as the SixAxis. And where will the Ouya end up in all this?
One thing I’d love to see is for the PS4 to become the catalyst of the Vita’s rebirth. Every PS4 game will be remotely playable on the Vita? Get rid of the lag that the PSP had with that same feature and you’ve got yourself a deal. The Vita is the most amazing handheld I’ve ever touched, but my PlayStation Plus membership means that Persona 4 is the only game I’ve ever bought for it, despite “owning” all the good ones. Remember how the Wii U only had four games in May? The Vita had three. And not one was a full-on retail release. The Vita shelf at Target is a pretty sad sight.
But the games! For every batch of same-y looking EA sports games – which I’m sure will be the best of their respective sports ever but I am just completely not their demographic – there is a new Mirror’s Edge. Dark Souls. Killer Is Dead. I even saw one rumored list that includes “BGE 2.” IS THAT BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL 2 BECAUSE I MIGHT LITERALLY POOP. And the eight new Xbox One IPs? Even that new Fantasia game from Hamonix… yes, you may scoff, but they’ve never made a bad game and that’s a fact.
This E3 might very well be the last chance we’ll have to be a part of a new console’s life, and a new console war. Do you need an Xbox One, a PS4, a Wii U, a Vita, and a 3DS when your smartphone can play games, stream music and movies, download comic books, and surf the internet by itself?
Well, I mean, I’m still getting them. But I’m working here! And I have a full time job and no children! Not everyone else has that luxury or incentive. And people not buying games? Well, that’s the scariest thing the industry could imagine. They hear the death knells and it’s time to turn on Star Power before it’s Game Over, man.