July 23, 2007 - Bennett: My eardrums are still ringing from the wall-shaking sound systems, my retinas are still pulsing from the hot booth-babe action and massive video displays, and my fingers are still trembling from getting hands on with the hottest upcoming games. And then I wake up, and realise I've been dreaming about 2006's Electronic Entertainment Expo. As you've no doubt heard, this year's E3 was a very different experience to the giant gaming nightclub that the show used to be - and I'm still unsure if it's for better or worse.
You've seen IGN's picks of the show, (http://au.games.ign.com/articles/806/806770p1.html) so now we're going to give you the AU crew's perspective of the show as a whole. Patch and I both hit sunny Santa Monica, while Cam manned the defensive turrets of IGN AU back in Sydney. Hence the Home and Away title to our story.
From my point of view, the change in format was a blessing - no longer did I have to wade through hundreds of fake EB store managers to wrestle the demo controller from their sweaty palms. I could actually hear the game I was playing, instead of an amateur DJ pumping hop through a stack of speakers from the booth next door. Sure, the laid-back demonstration suites didn't get the heart palpitating as much as E3 used to, but in terms of getting information about games, it was a vastly superior setup. Pity then that the organisers, in their infinite wisdom, spread these demonstration areas out over six hotels. It was a pain in the butt to have to lug a laptop from one hotel to the next, only to find that one of the other IGN eds had beat me to it.
Even though the demo setup was fan-f'ing-tastic, there was one slight problem. Content. But before I go on a page-burning rampage, I'll pass it on to Cam. From where you sat, which was most likely passed out under the bar at the local, how did the show look?
Cam: From this side of things the show didn't seem drastically different. The big three still held press conferences before the show proper, so there was still that first wave of videos and announcements to check out. Oh, and that first wave of Peter Moore trying desperately hard to look cool. What is it with Microsoft's E3 press conferences? I've been to a bunch of them, and this year wasn't that different - aside from their decision to only show content from games coming out this year.The banter always has such a rehearsed, phoney ring to it, and they always seem to be pitching at someone other than the gamers they've got in the audience. Still, that's nothing compared to the way Nintendo press conferences usually pan out.
They have the most fanatical fans in the audience, yet year in, year out they always run patronising video reels with gurning little kids giggling and having a grand old time. And now that they're deliberately targeting everyone who isn't us with the Wii, this has only gotten worse. Now it's gurning kids and rockin' grannies. Before you all start flaming the comments threads though, let me just say that this isn't a statement about the systems and games - it's about how the companies choose to present them, and in terms of not patronising the audience, Sony usually wins hands-down. And they did again this year.
And with the press conferences out of the way, as it does every year, the internet exploded. It was surreal sitting here watching the coverage flood in on IGN…
Patch: I think the real highlight for me was watching Chewbacca charge onto centre stage and start groaning while presenting the redesigned Star Wars PSP to the world. Nothing says class like a man in a big furry suit. Santa Monica was a great location for the show - it feels like the Gold Coast or Bondi Beach - and I thought the multi-hotel set-up was definitely manageable. While I never got to attend the E3 fiasco of years gone by, I'd say the new show was easily less chaotic on the surface.
…Of course, peering a little more deeply into E3 '07 reveals a few cracks. I had the dubious pleasure of attending a lot of the 3rd Party developer conferences like THQ and Take 2, and if you were even five minutes late arriving to the conference, it was a real hassle to get security to let you in. Brass knuckles and mace always speak louder than words, though, so we got into everything we needed to.
The other little issue I'm going to point out was the obvious mainstream-focus of the presentations themselves. It was clear that most of the companies had really only thrown presentations together at the last moment, not knowing exactly what would be shown or revealed and who would be in the audience. As such, most presentations were pitifully lightweight, with lots of needlessly simplistic introductions like "Game X is a World War II first-person-shooter, which means you'll be running and gunning, etcetera." Ick.