E3 Thoughts Header

If you’ve kept up with video game news, by now you are fa­mil­iar with the prover­bial smoke and mir­ror show that E3 tends to be. With promis­es of cut­ting edge con­soles that are bare­ly more pow­er­ful than the last gen to  bull­shots and “game­play” on dev PCs to make false ex­pec­ta­tions of what the end prod­uct will look like. I say all this, with valid rea­son, and yet this E3 has me cau­tious­ly op­ti­mistic.

It al­most feels as if pub­lish­ers and de­vel­op­ers are start­ing to re­al­ize that gamers watch E3 as well. It seemed, over­all, that there was an ac­tu­al hon­est at­tempt to make peo­ple in­ter­est­ed in the games shown. I just hope that this trend con­tin­ues, as the last few E3s have most­ly been a lot of “Why both­er?” It’s that at­ti­tude that caus­es a dis­con­nect be­tween the core au­di­ence of gamers and the com­pa­nies we know and love. I feel like a few moves could be made to­ward mak­ing E3 an over­all bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence for both pre­sen­ters and view­ers alike.

If I may, I’d like to make a few sug­ges­tions for what could be done to change this.

A great first start to sal­vaging cor­po­rate to con­sumer com­mu­ni­ca­tion would be to only show game­play. We’re tired of over-hyped trail­ers with dub­step and Mt. Dewritos plas­tered all over it. What I care about — some­thing I think most gamers keep at a high­er im­por­tance — is how a game plays. Without a good idea of what a game is go­ing to look like in ac­tion, I don’t know if I want to spend mon­ey on it. Games like Anno 2205 show off what they call game­play, but there’s no real per­son in­ter­act­ing with it. If there was, we’d know bet­ter what the game plays like. Sadly, Ubisoft wasn’t will­ing to take a risk with that and in­stead showed off a video that they said was a save file of an em­ploy­ee, but it was al­ways the same paths, the same planned time-lapse to show off what their game might look like. Compare that to Platinum Games with Transformers: Devastation. They showed ac­tu­al game play, and stuck to what they knew peo­ple want­ed to see: A tight com­bat sys­tem with a re­al­is­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the art style and game play. I am more in­clined to buy the Transformers game now be­cause of this fact. I know what I’m buy­ing and what it’s go­ing to look like in ac­tion.

Another step that should be tak­en is a big­ger fo­cus on in­clud­ing the pub­lic in the show. The biggest dri­ving force be­hind video game sales, and the in­dus­try as a whole, are con­sumers. Without hav­ing a fo­cus on your au­di­ence, you turn some­thing that could be a great way to forge bonds with your com­mu­ni­ty and ex­change that for what is ba­si­cal­ly a beau­ty pageant. We, the gamers, care about what you’re show­ing. We want to be there to ex­pe­ri­ence it for us. Not vic­ar­i­ous­ly through some­body that is paid to be there and sticks to a very strict script. If you want gen­uine in­ter­est in your games and your idea, bring back the pub­lic. The best mar­ket­ing is word-of-mouth, hands down. You want more peo­ple talk­ing about things well af­ter E3? Let us in. We’ll do the hard work for you. Not to men­tion it’s a good way for con­sumers to hold com­pa­nies ac­count­able. If some­thing is clear­ly sus­pect, the pub­lic will know about it one way or an­oth­er. Rather than play the weak po­si­tion of hop­ing to cov­er it up by mak­ing an event press only, own up to your mis­takes as com­pa­nies. Be hon­est with your cus­tomers; we promise we’ll try to un­der­stand.

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That be­ing said, there are also those who are of the opin­ion that E3 is an­ti­quat­ed. Like a prover­bial Old Yeller, it needs to be tak­en out back and dealt with. Some com­pa­nies have been out of touch with the core au­di­ence for a very long time. A lot of the things shown are the usu­al sus­pects of trail­ers with noth­ing of sub­stance. We’re tired of the same shal­low promis­es that ul­ti­mate­ly are just emp­ty hype. It’s a shame that com­pa­nies in this day and age of such ad­vance tech­nol­o­gy are so ashamed of their prod­uct that they hide it be­hind CGI trail­ers that look noth­ing like the fi­nal game. It breaks my heart that com­pa­nies feel the pres­sure of “bet­ter” graph­ics as a tool to be used for mar­ket­ing. Showing off a de­vel­op­ment build with high­er res­o­lu­tion as­sets and fil­ter­ing is not only a shame, but it just goes to show how lit­tle faith com­pa­nies have in their own ideas. It de­stroys the con­fi­dence we had in that com­pa­ny or that prod­uct. I don’t want to play a game that looked amaz­ing in the footage but gets an over­all down­grade be­cause of the lim­i­ta­tions of the hard­ware that hap­pens to be the lead de­vel­op­ment plat­form. It’s a cheap trick and a great way to break down the con­nec­tion of trust that to con­sumers is so im­por­tant.

I feel like E3 can be saved, but it’s go­ing to take a lot of ef­fort from the show run­ners and the com­pa­nies that at­tend. I feel like it can go back to be­ing an im­por­tant place to in­ter­face with the au­di­ence. They took a good first step when al­low­ing 5,000 fans to at­tend this year, but who was in­vit­ed? E3 would do well to open this event back to the pub­lic at large. That’s how vi­ral mar­ket­ing works. Get peo­ple ex­cit­ed, get them in there to ac­tu­al­ly play your de­vel­op­ing games, and let them form their own opin­ions based on mer­it. Not the heav­i­ly groomed and care­ful­ly cal­cu­lat­ed show that amounts to lit­tle more than stage mag­ic. We want to buy your prod­ucts, but you have to be hon­est with us. We can tell if some­thing is go­ing to be qual­i­ty or be a flop. Interface with the pub­lic more and you could get a bet­ter idea of what your fans and con­sumers want.

 

E3 2015 After Thoughts: The Business of E3
E3 2015: When Games Won Over Faux Outrage
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Killer Tofu
Killer Tofu is the only ac­cept­able form of tofu out there. When not writ­ing about games and in­ter­net cul­ture he en­joys long walks on the beach with your mom. But he won’t call her af­ter­wards.
Killer Tofu

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