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?