There's an odd sort of Kremlinology that surrounds the annual Electronic Entertainment Exposition, with one of the main topics of conversation among showgoers, industry watchers, and video game enthusiasts being the E3 show itself. Each year's show is compared and contrasted to previous editions, and hands are wrung over whether E3 has too many attendees, too few attendees, or should be earlier or later in the year. The bombastic displays built by companies such as Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are analyzed for any hint of a corporate downturn, and the number of scantily clad "booth babes" is a litmus test for the overall financial health of the industry.
If the hallway buzz is any indication, this year's show was well-received, with most people we talked to pleased to see E3 return to its traditional large-scale format after two years of a stripped-down version held in a series of drab meeting rooms and hotel suites. With roughly 40,000 attendees, this is still a smaller show than the peak years, where it topped 60,000, so the public spaces of the Los Angeles Convention Center feel less claustrophobic than in the past.
This was a surprisingly heavy year for hardware announcements at E3, and much attention was focused on upcoming products such as the Natal motion-sensing camera from Microsoft, Nintendo's Wii Motion Plus add-on, and Sony's still-unnamed motion controller system, along with the revamped portable PSP Go. All were demonstrated at the show, to varying degrees of success--but the point that aging game consoles need some hardware upgrades to keep audiences interested and push new software sales was well-made.
We came away impressed with the same list of upcoming game titles we went into the show looking forward to, including Batman: Arkham Asylum, Heavy Rain, and Mafia II; we also found some titles that unexpectedly caught our eye and made an excellent impression in-person--such as Splinter Cell: Conviction, Borderlands, and Star Wars: The Old Republic.… Read more