As reported in Kotaku and BBC news, what used to be the extravaganza, the greatest show in interactive entertainment history is now no more – at least in the three day ‘mega-format’ show. That’s right – E3 is changing. If you ask me, this is really a backward step for the industry as a whole, for a good number of reasons.
Videogames generally get a bad press a large portion of the time. Whether it’s Hilary Clinton using them as a bandwagon for her campaign or the latest ‘Halo murder’ story, games quite literally get a thoroughly bad press. This is both unfair and unjust, and I think E3 goes some way to making games seem acceptable and exciting.
Around the time of E3 I can expect reasonable coverage of my hobby – though still nowhere near as much as say cricket or other sporting interests on television – let alone football (soccer to those in the US). It says much about the industry (in the UK at least) when the best media coverage is from Consolevania – a games show available to download on the web.
Generally speaking, the suggestions so far for greater control of the event include invitation-only guests (rather than those with a press pass) along with holding all games release info/press releases at hotels and other locked-down locations. Now, to me this just reeks of potentially skewed impressions. To provide an analogy, sometimes in boxing you see a rather ‘odd’ result. Judges are wined and dined by the promoters of the home turf – I’m not suggesting that all matches are won and lost this way but it has got to help. The same would and does apply to games – a bad review and suddenly your crop of review copies dries up from a narked publisher. Not a problem from a small studio, a biggie if it’s someone like EA.
I’m not going to end this article on a doom-and-gloom note however. We can only hope that someone knows what they are doing, and it’ll actually be an improvement. One thing that might come out of it is a better-staggered release schedule. However how can that happen when publishers stick so tightly to tried and tested sales periods? From a hardcore gamers perspective, we can hope that gaming information filters through on a more gradual basis rather than missing out – as I did this year – on some of the more interesting stuff. I guess we can only wait and see what E3 2007 holds…