Grumpy Gurevitz: The trials of E3

You cannot deny how important to the industry E3 has become. I will be hooked to the press conferences and post conference follow ups (otherwise known as the details), and I expect many industry gazers, fans and whatnot to be doing much the same.

A couple of years ago there was an argument that due to the new casual market being dominant over the hardcore market that the relevance of E3 was diminishing. Some were citing the fact that Apple (now a huge player in casual portable gaming) and Facebook are not present, and so feel that this is evidence that E3 is not so relevant looking ahead. Well just because Apple is not there does not mean E3 is not relevant. E3 is, for the traditional players in the videogame industry, their equivalent of the WWDC or the autumn Apple update. It’s that one time when the world’s press is focused, all at the same time, on their industry.

Nintendo have been 'happy' to expose their marketing team to some awkward moments in the cause of conquering the mass market.

Nintendo, as always, have taken a slightly different approach over the last three years. It would seem that they value the massive pulling power an E3 press conference has, realising that those reporting on it now include the mainstream media and not just websites, blogs and magazines focused on hardcore gaming. Hence they used it as a platform to push their non hardcore products such as Wii Fit, Wii Music and most recently the heartbeat testing thing (I’m half expecting the British NHS to start using Wiis and this heart rate thing as a way of saving money). In some ways this strategy has worked, as whilst the hardcore press slammed them, the mainstream press reported these products and carried Nintendo’s message of accessibility onto the masses.

Hence with Microsoft and Sony about to release their casual gaming hardware (perhaps Sony’s has the potential to be more hardcore), will we find that they too will allow their conferences to become dominated by the mass market, leaving core gamers in the dark? I don’t think so, as their core gaming pedigree is too strong; but I do think that more and more of the big gaming releases will be relegated to fast paced trailers, and less walkthroughs. The ‘walk and talk throughs’ will be dominated by the new technologies and other non gaming announcements, to do with online services and possible OS updates.

Sony used E3 to announce their PSPGO. Here you can see the one other owner besides me.

So does this mean there won’t be new games announced? Of course there will be, but many will be shown on the show floor and it will be for the hardcore, specialist press to highlight without the help or assistance of PR departments of the Xbox, Sony or Nintendo teams. Some commentators are already saying that most of the headlines will be taken by Nintendo, due to the 3DS. Certainly, this has the potential to make Nintendo’s launch get the same degree of coverage as Apple’s recent Ipad launch, however there is no certainty that the feedback from the press will be positive. If the hardware offering does not tick enough boxes then all of that mass media attention could be something Nintendo could have done without, i.e. they might have preferred to show it off at a core industry event only.

For me the highlight of the show is clear. It's the debate and analysis.

One thing is for sure – none of the companies individually are yet able to reach the mass media press as well as Apple, when it comes to announcing new technologies and software. The launch of the Ipad and Iphone 4 with the associated buzz by the masses demonstrates how much the videogames industry needs E3 to collectively allow them to achieve a similar result. It seems though that the hardcore gamer will probably be served best by getting the information they seek about the next 6-9 months away from the glitz and noise of the E3 presentations.

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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands. He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person 'free world', narrative driven and portable gaming. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

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