E3 2012: The Oddities and the Missing

This year at E3, we got to witness a veritable ton of content. We saw gameplay from massive games like Halo 4 and The Last of Us, hardware hands-on with the Wii U, and new tech like Sony’s Wonderbook.

The interesting thing, however is that we knew about almost everything we saw this year, and the surprises we witnessed we’re actually based around what was notably absent from E3 2012. We break it down below and offer some insight as to why we think things went down the way they did.

1) No price changes. All three console manufacturers seem to be in a pretty good position so far with their home consoles. Microsoft is also making it a point to increase the value of their product by introducing new features like Smart Glass which might let them keep their pricing at the same level for a bit longer. However, Sony was widely expected to introduce a price drop for their handheld console, the PlayStation Vita. We didn’t see one, and frankly, we’re not sure why, because it seems like adoption isn’t as high as it should be to keep that thing in the market. As we pointed out before, it would make sense to drop the Vita’s price below that of the Nintendo 3DS’s, if only because they need everything they can get. Sony already loses money on every system, what difference would another hundred dollars make, really?

2) No new hardware. We’ve been spoiled lately. At the last three E3s, we have seen five new hardware platforms emerge: Kinect, Move, 3DS, Vita, and most recently, Nintendo’s Wii U. Now, if we hadn’t had those big announcements in the past few years, we wouldn’t be as cynical as we are, but the fact is that we’ve come to expect at least something small in terms of new hardware. Last year, Sony brought us a huge surprise with their 3D display targeted at dorm rooms. This year, we did get a redesigned Classic Controller from Nintendo, but we’re not sure that counts.

3) No emphasis on 3D. Last year, we saw so much 3D, we had headaches walking out of nearly every demo. This year, not even 3D super fanboy Sony showed off any 3D content. The one demo we did get in 3D was of Star Trek, but even then, it wasn’t to show off the technology, but rather to show that the game would utilize it. The lack of 3D gaming at E3 is such a bizarre change that it makes us wonder about the future of the technology. Sony has massive vested interests in three dimensional viewing given that they manufacture televisions with the tech and expect consumers to buy it. They should be first one on the bandwagon and promoting it to everyone, and we’re just not sure why they didn’t this year.

4) No major handheld announcements. Even though we once again have two major handheld platforms in the market – Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PlayStation Vita – we didn’t see much in the way of handheld gaming this year. Sure, Nintendo held a separate conference dedicated to their 3DS offerings, but it was nothing that we hadn’t really seen already. We did get some gameplay demos of Paper Mario, but nothing revolutionary was really shown. Nintendo also had virtually nothing on the show floor regarding the 3DS, and they could’ve really used a strong push for handheld content to extend their lead of Sony. Speaking of Sony, their handheld-focused content at their press conference consisted of Assassin’s Creed and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, both games we’ve heard of and neither of which we were given demos of. Sony commented on this, saying that they weren’t aware there’d be such a need for handheld content in their press conference since they showed off so much on the show floor, but we really wonder why they wouldn’t try to hype up a platform that’s yearning for attention as much as it is.

5) Major games missing. We didn’t really expect to see every single game shown off at E3 this year, but we did expect to be somewhat surprised by the games that were revealed. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a lot of games we had hoped to. Ubisoft was too busy showing off their new Splinter Cell: Blacklist to give Rainbow Six Patriots any love, and while we know that game won’t hit until 2013, assuming the projects are correct, we could’ve still used a quick glimpse at it. We also didn’t see anything about The Last Guardian even though there has been quite a bit of talk about it in the last few months. We had it on good authority that the game would be showed off at Sony’s press conference, but we saw nothing from the developer, nor even a quick mention of the game. They have since come out and say that it wasn’t appropriate to reveal anything about the game at this year’s E3, but we would have to disagree. And vehemently.

Unfortunately, we also missed games like Mirror’s Edge 2 and any new Smash Bros. information, but we didn’t really expect those in our heart of hearts.

Overall, this was a weird E3. We’ll have more thoughts on the way the whole show went down, including trends and the changing face of gaming. It’ll be interesting to see if E3 next year – which, by the way, we still have no date or location for – marks a shift back upward for gaming or if it lets the industry continue its odd downward spiral.