I’m really looking forward to E3 next week.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo takes place in Los Angeles each year, but it sprays press releases, trailers and livestreamed stage presentations worldwide. It is loud, it is marketing and it is often ridiculous, but it’s also a way to take the temperature of the industry. Over the course of a week of ‘live’ multiplayer demos and highlight reels which overuse slow motion, we’re going to find out what EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Sony and everyone else thinks is important right now. Better yet, we’re going to find out all the daft ways they thought it was appropriate to express what they think is important right now.
The pre-show company conferences are absolutely the best bit of E3. Before journalists and developers squeeze themselves inside the LA Convention Center to shout over music at one another, the major publisher and first-party console manufacturers hold their own stage shows in which they reveal new games, show new footage (with worse graphics) of the (delayed) games they revealed the previous year, and sacrifice the dignity of media-trained company executives in the futile pursuit of appearing ‘friendly’.
(Cynicism is an important part of the E3 experience).
I love spectacle, particularly anything that causes large groups of people to gather and small groups of people to perform. E3 is precisely that. I also love seeing the results of all the work and money enormous companies put into these presentations. Mostly because they’re normally awful in six different ways, and it’s fascinating to imagine all the wrongheaded memos and political in-fighting that leads to a moment like this…
Now, over the years, E3 has definitely become better at these conferences. They’ve become bigger and more polished, and Aisha Tyler, above, is a genuinely good host and far better than Mr. Caffeine.
But my joy comes not from outright bad or embarrassing moments. It comes from the moments that make you marvel at how these huge companies let it happen. Heck, in retrospect, this seems like a great idea.
I can probably summarise my feelings. In fact, I did in the title of this post: E3 is as close as this industry gets to Eurovision.
Eurovision is bad, it’s good, it’s so-bad-it’s-good, it’s just plain weird, it’s frequently boring, and it can be enjoyed as all of these things. E3 is the same. And like Eurovision, a big part of the experience of E3 is watching the response to all these conferences on Twitter and among my friends, many of whom are watching the livestreams at the same time as I am, and laughing. We’re going to take the mick out of it, but in my case at least, I’ll be doing so affectionately.
I’m looking forward to finding out what initiative or hardware Microsoft is forcing all its in-house studios to embrace this year. I’m looking forward to watching EA struggle to make FIFA exciting when it barely changes each year and the live audience doesn’t care much for soccer. I’m looking forward to counting the number of times Ubisoft has people dance on stage. I’m looking forward to picking who of these companies ‘won’ E3. And I’m looking forward to all the things I can’t believe the industry’s marketing managers let happen.
E3 is great.
Also there’ll probably be some new videogames and I like those too.