I remember E3 2005 like it was yesterday. This was the year gaming would step into the HD era leaving behind standard definition for good. Sony and Microsoft were about to unveil their “next generation” consoles and excitement had reached a feverish pitch. Not helping matters were the slew of insane trailers that promised to open up a whole new world of gaming. And like a kid in a toy shop, I was smiling ear to ear, giddy at the thought of “next generation” gaming. This is what I expect E3 to do.
Sure E3 2005 raised the bar and yes, none of the games promised at that expo really lived up to the lofty expectations laid out by their CG trailers, but for those few days, it was a good time to be a gamer. Even though we never had the PS3 or the Xbox360 at home we were all tingly and hopeful just at the thought of being able to play this kind of stuff in the near future.
As the years passed, the expo started losing its charm, diminishing in scope and after the recession hit, people had already started paying their last respects to E3. But miraculously, the expo did not just fade into the sunset. It came back promising bigger and better things. It made us hopeful once again and that ladies and gentlemen, was enough for the enthusiast.
Last year’s E3 was all about motion controlled gaming with Microsoft rolling out Kinect and Sony countering that with the PlayStation Move. The Wii had already established itself in that space and so they moved on into the 3D space with the 3DS. With motion controlled and casual gaming taking center stage, I personally found it tough to be interested in what was going down at E3 2010. But even that was somewhat bearable because at least both MS and Sony had something unexpected and new up their sleeves.
This brings us to E3 2011, the most boring E3 till date. As a consumer, it’s not all that disappointing as I have a ton of stuff to look forward to, but let’s be honest here, nothing announced at E3 caught us by surprise. Uncharted 3 looked awesome. How totally un-unexpected. Halo 4 being announced? Color me well not surprised. Sony details the NGP? I so did not see that coming – only I did.
Yup, it's all about family friendly gaming now
I don’t know why but for some reason I thought things would be a bit different this year. With rumors surrounding Nintendo’s successor to the Wii, everyone thought both Microsoft and Sony would bring out the big guns with the Xbox720 (so it doesn’t have an official codename yet) and the PS4. On the software front there were talks of Grand Theft Auto V, God of War IV, Thief IV and lots more. And then there were games like The Getaway and 8 Days, lost in time which for some reason I thought would be resurrected at E3 2011. Could this be like E3 2005 all over again?
But I should have known better. All the excitement and anticipation that had been building up since days was brutally put to the rest by some of the most boring press conferences ever. After last year’s conference, I really had no scope for Microsoft’s press conference, but a part of me thought that maybe, just maybe they would have an ace up their sleeve this year. But how stupid was that train of thought. All we got for ninety minutes was how Kinect sold so well, how Kinect is the future ad nauseam. Now I get Kinect sells well, but was it really necessary to base an entire press conference on that fact? On the software front, there was no mention of first party titles until Halo 4 and Halo: Combat Evolved HD were announced. But even they took a backseat as everyone in Microsoft kept slobbering about Kinect.
Keep in mind it was nearly 4.00 AM (IST) by this time. I was sleep deprived and tired. My bed never looked this appealing. But I still kept on thinking that maybe Sony would announce some stuff that would blow my mind and my sleep away. Yup, stupid me once again. Between sales figures that no one really cared about, and talks of how Sony were still on the same 3D trip at last year, we got a few gameplay videos, none of which came as a surprise to anyone. Even on the HD remake front, besides a God of War Origins, there were no new titles announced. No GTA V, no GoW IV, no Agent, nothing!
Nintendo’s press conference was exactly what you would expect from Nintendo’s press conference. It was boring, way too concentrated on a few IPs and the Wii U, while interesting, doesn’t sound like something that would give me sleepless nights. After weeks of anticipation, all my hopes were dashed. And that’s when it dawned on me - E3 will never be the same again. It really isn’t for the gamers, anymore. It is a glorified business expo where giant corporations rudely shove their sales figures in your face, pretend to care about your needs and then proceed to completely side step you for the casual gamer.