I really should stop paying attention to E3. Watching the coverage is frustrating and annoying. The enthusiast press is too enthusiastic. The stupid little kids on the forums get that much more vocal. And the whole congregation of the big name titles is depressing for its uniformity. But I can’t help it and every year I pay attention.
The one thing that peeves me the most each and every year is the idea that press conferences are some kind of sport to be won. They’re not; they’re press conferences. Each publisher approaches them with their retailers, stockholders, potential stockholders and media in mind. The actual consumers are last on the list. Those are worried about later, when the advertising campaigns and the sales and all the post-launch support begins.
The dedicated followers — the kind that would watch live streams of these press conferences — over-value their importance. They are useful to consumers for their content reveals (and only negligibly since most of the games revealed are months, if not years, away) and as a measure for that particular company’s zeitgeist. These press conferences are a keyhole view into the company’s recent fortunes and plans, but those are things that should be readily apparent to those that obsess over the industry.
Prior to E3 it was fairly obvious, to those that follow such things, what the big three publishers were going to focus on. Microsoft, with its maturing system, was going to focus on all the second and third generation games that are coming to the system real soon. Sony was going to be trumping its technology and potential leading up to the PS3’s maturation. Nintendo was going to be exalting the new gamers and the mainstream appeal of its DS and Wii.
That’s exactly what they all did. There are no winners and losers; they all achieved what they set out to do. The real winners will be determined years down the road when the next generation of consoles hits and the last, the one that so many currently obsess over, are thrown aside into the trash heap. By then, nobody will remember these press conferences.