Thoughts on the e3 Press Conferences


When it comes to the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the main event has always been the press conferences by the major platform holders to start the show. Over the last few years, the major third party developers have begun hosting their own events, which I care little about to be honest. The “megatons” always come from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, so I make it a point to watch the press conferences no matter what.

This year was a bit weird, as I had to “work around my day job” to watch them. However, I saw them all and would like to share my impressions on those conferences with you. Did Kinect connect with the hardcore and mainstream audiences? Did Nintendo abandon the hardcore gamer for good? Did Sony ride its momentum to e3 2010 glory? Hit the link for my impressions.

Microsoft

It’s no secret that Microsoft is putting all of its eggs into the Kinect basket. Besides running a 1-hour MTV special with Cirque Du Soleil, Kinect was the main focus of Microsoft’s press conference, taking up roughly 2/3 of their presentation.

Unfortunately, this made for a really poor showing from Microsoft, who has generally been really good at these presentations. They spent way too much time talking about how to navigate the dashboard using Kinect. Most of the presenters came off as super-fake and scripted, especially the two girls who demonstrated the video chat functionality and tried to make an Avatar for 360 joke.

To make matters worse, the software lineup for Kinect was exactly what you’d expect for games with motion controls. There was no shortage of Wii Sports rip-offs (Kinect Sports, Kinect Adventures and Joyride), Wii psudo-ports (Your Shape and EA Active) and a hardcore game with shoehorned in motion controls (Forza). The only game that caught my interest was Dance Central, which I think is perfect for Kinect. However, at a rumored price point of $150, Kinect could very well be dead in the water before it even comes out.

There weren’t really any surprises on the hardcore front. Call of Duty looked like Call of Duty. Gears looked as you would expect. Halo Reach looked the same with the exception of space battles.

Unless you were one of the lucky people in attendance that got a 360 slim for being there, this presentation was really bad. Very few surprises, content that I don’t think really appeals to anyone and a poorly paced presentation with bad salespeople.

Nintendo

I had zero expectations going into this one. Over the last few years, Nintendo has shifted their focus towards the casual market, which has meant this presentation was filled with stuff core gamers don’t care about, such as Wii Fit and Wii Music (shudder). This year, they came out swinging, figuratively and literally.

The new Zelda game was a great way to start the show. Graphically, the mix of mature link with cel-shaded art looked great. My only two concerns are that it didn’t look to control that great on stage and I’m not sure if they’re doing enough to shake up the arguably stale Zelda formula.

From there, Nintendo didn’t really miss a step. They hit the right casual buttons with Just Dance 2 and Wii Party, but finally recognized the audience watching e3. For the core gamer, we saw a live demo of Epic Mickey, which now looks great. Core gamers also got a ton of unveils and gameplay footage for a new Donkey Kong game that goes back to the Donkey Kong Country style, a “remake” of Goldeneye, a new Kirby game with an amazing cloth and yarn art style, and the long-awaited return of Kid Icarus…on the 3DS!

Speaking of the 3DS, I thought it looked fantastic. The hardware itself shows Nintendo has come a long way from the monstrosity that was the first DS prototype. It is a sexy piece of hardware and it appears as though that a lot of great games are already in the works. What’s most promising is that the early word from the journalists in attendance is that the 3DS 3D effect looks amazing.

Nintendo fanboys have great reason to rejoice. There is a lot of great first-party Wii support on the way and the 3DS could really be something special. They haven’t had an e3 presentation this strong since they first debuted the Wii. Kudos to Nintendo for a great showing.

Sony

Going into this, everyone knew that their major touch-points were going to be 3D gaming and the Playstation Move. Sony has an ulterior motive as far as pushing 3D gaming goes; they’re trying to sell you Bravia TVs. Showing off Killzone 3 in 3D may have been cool for everyone in attendance with 3D glasses, but that whole section was kind of useless for us watching the stream. Killzone 3 did look great, but it wasn’t leaps and bounds above its predecessor.

After the 3D portion of the show, Sony tried really hard to sell the Move as an awesome interface for casual and hardcore gamers. They did this by showing off almost as many Wii-too games and more hardcore games with shoehorned in controls.

I don’t think Sony hit its stride till the back-end of the show, where they revealed the likes of Twisted Metal, Portal 2, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Little Big Planet 2, Infamous 2 and Dead Space 2.

Up until then though, I was really turned off by the jamming of 3D down my throat when I’m not ready to spend $3,000-$4,000+ for a 3D capable television and a pricey motion controller that still doesn’t have games I would want to play or would rather play with a different interface.

There are definitely a lot of reasons to be excited about the Playstation brand. However, most of what I found interesting was buried behind their desire to sell 3D televisions and Nintendo Wii knock-off controllers.

These press conferences mean a lot to gamers because this sort of lays out what’s going to happen in the next year of gaming. As far as putting on a good show with great upcoming products, Nintendo won hands-down. Sony came in second in my books and I almost wish I would have just skipped Microsoft’s presentation completely.

A lot can change between now and next year, so these press conferences may not mean much in the grand scheme of things. However, for the next little bit, the world will be abuzz with e3 feedback and publishers will hopefully take the good and bad feedback to heart.

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