Next week sees the start of this year’s E3, the premium video game trade show that allows the industry to showcase what they have coming up for the year ahead. Over the years, the press conferences in particular that run the days before the show official starts, have seen many shocks and surprises as the major platform holders demonstrate their new hardware or games.
This year however, things are altogether a bit more muted. Microsoft and Sony are not expected to make any big announcements as the console cycle is coming to an end and neither company is ready to show anything of their new systems. Also company's traditional stick to tried and tested formula as the console cycle winds down, so we are unlikely to see any surprise game announcements with publishers holding back most things for the next generation. This leaves it up to Nintendo to provide the surprises, with the Wii U set to get its full unveiling along with perhaps a price and launch date.
When the Wii U was initially announced I was pretty sceptical. Whilst I had been excited about what the Wii meant for the industry, the terrible banality of a lot of the software produced, and a couple of lean years from Nintendo themselves, meant that I had lost a bit of faith in Nintendo and doubted whether they could produce another top level system. However as E3 approaches I find my excitement growing, I’ve always had a soft spot for Nintendo and I admire what they try to do with home consoles. The industry would certainly be a worse place if they did a Sega and just concentrated on software.
For me this excitement over what Nintendo is going to announce is what E3 is all about. Gaming is meant to be exciting and E3 can deliver that in spades, it’s just a shame that there is very little prospect of surprises this year.
Regarding the show itself though it is good to see E3 getting back to where it belongs. A few years ago, during the financial crisis, people were questioning the need for such an expensive trade show, something I think they was wrong. Yes to an extent E3 had become overblown and companies were spending far too much money on the show, but the show gives the industry a unique platform to publicise their wares to the wider, mainstream media; people who don’t come to preview events and only really cover gaming when it is deemed newsworthy i.e. X game has been linked to Y violent act. This in turn gets gaming into the public conscience and portrays the industry in a positive light. Every major entertainment media has their marquee event and this is ours, without it, as an industry, we would be diminished.