E3 2012 Big Three Retrospective (Or, What Do Gamers Want From Games?)

After sitting in two chatrooms, a few threads, and my Twitter feed during these last two days of E3 (and pre-E3) conferences and seeing 90% hatred for everything, I’m starting to wonder what the gaming community expects from the console manufacturers these days.

Sony and Microsoft show hardware and apps: everyone wanted more games. Nintendo shows games: they’re boring Mario and casual games, show more hardcore games. But wait, didn’t the earlier conferences show some games typically touted as AAA or hardcore? Oh no, those are brown shooting games, we don’t want those, show other games. Sports? Nope. I think the biggest cheers I saw were for Rayman Legends (which got flak for having gimmicks with that one Bit.Trip Runner-esque stage).

So what the hell do gamers want? Maybe the expectations are too high these days, but do people really expect a Mario AND a Zelda AND a Metroid AND something new at a Nintendo system launch? What more can you squeeze out of the PS3 and 360 at this point in the lifecycle? And it’s expected that companies will play it safe with sequels to proven franchises. Those Call of Duty games are gonna be bought by the fans no matter how much everyone else hates them.

Maybe the communities I’m in skew too niche in terms of the kinds of games we play. But JRPGs typically don’t rear their heads at E3, especially at the video conferences, unless Square-Enix has something major (Atlus did email out a few good announcements, though). Even then, you probably won’t be seeing any new titles from the smaller Japanese companies revealed here.

Do gamers want to be pleased by everything shown at the conferences? I’d assume so, since as soon as the Wii Fit U and other “casual gimmick” games showed on the stream, the chat exploded in “NOOOO”s. I’ll have to say when my mom played Wii Fit, she loved it to the point where she considered buying a second system for herself. Another friend of mine loved playing Just Dance with her classmates. Nintendo tapped into a market that helped them with the Wii, and it’d be stupid if they completely abandoned it. And after all, we can’t predict the future. We don’t know the price of the Wii U or its games, or even a solid launch date. We can’t see a year from now what games will be out.

Where does that leave Sony and Microsoft? My personal belief is they’re in a weird spot right now. There’s some more high-selling sequels due out, but even if they claim a ten year lifecycle, they’re obviously getting ready to reveal their next consoles sometime in 2013. Until then, seeing them keep carrying the games their main users play is just fine. The social integration I honestly don’t care about, but it seems EVERY device, not just game consoles, is heading in that direction.

After all of this, is the question in the post title answered? No, not at all, because I still don’t know what gamers want these days. The platforming kings that dominated the 90s are said to be too casual and played out now, but the shooters that are dominating the 00s and 10s are getting old and are more of a war to who can make the most realistic textures and models. Sports games are for sports fans, exercise and singing games are for grandma, and RPGs are for weeaboos and people are sick of their numbers invading other games.

So then tell me, what do you want? What else can they give you?

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One thought on “E3 2012 Big Three Retrospective (Or, What Do Gamers Want From Games?)

  1. It boils down to the fact that E3 used to be where hardcore gamers or “the core” as theyre calling it now, got all their announcements. Now, we have to learn to share, and most of the internet is just selfish.

    Over the last 10 years, E3 has attracted more and more mainstream media every year, especially when the Wii started selling like crazy – to people who didn’t consider themselves gamers. Because of this, the big three console makers found themselves stuck between three categories – a mainstream audience, children, and hardcore gamers. Money talks, and the non-gamers out there buying wiis don’t really care too much about hardcore shooters, action games, or RPGs, they’re all buying minigame collections. The mainstream media also loves to name drop, so having a football star present the game, or a famous musician perform for a dance game improves the exposure of the article. This is why they spend all that money on a celebrity appearance at E3.

    Most of the anger leveled at the conferences this year hasn’t been because people feel certain games are “bad”, it’s that people don’t want to sit through stuff that isn’t for them. The fact that sports and fitness games exist, really doesn’t bother me in the slightest. The internet audience tends to see everything in black and white – a game is either incredible, or the worst thing ever, with nothing in between.

    The solution here should be obvious – the conferences are just too broad. Nintendo is onto something, I think, when they held a separate 3DS software presentation the day after – they could show more games, and give a more in-depth presentation. And you know what? Of all of them, the 3DS software presentation was the most well recieved, because it didn’t try to force in EVERYTHING Nintendo does. Though the people I was watching it with online were all clamoring for a Fire Emblem localization announcement, which didn’t come.

    So, in the end, I think one solution would be to split the conferences up – give each console maker two one hour slots in the big theatre, and let them divide up their show as they see fit. I am betting that most of the journalists would rather see the core games live, and most of the mainstream guys would rather see social integration and casual games. The retail industry reps looking at what will be the big seller in the fall are probably more interested in the casual stuff as well, because they know that for us, they need only keep new releases in stock, the publishers will make the sale for them.

    In the end, I think it’s still best to ignore the internet reactions entirely, and just watch the conferences for yourself. Personally, I now have a long list of things to look out for in the next six to nine months. As you mentioned above, as a JRPG fan, there are other events that are potentially more interesting, like TGS.

    (Note: Reggie confirmed Fire Emblem’s localization to several journalists in attendance after the 3DS show ended)

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