My thoughts on E3 - Why I think it's a load of Bollocks

     Another E3 has come and loads of new announcements and game reveals are underway, as the hype machine finishes refueling and departs the station at light speed. I always seem to get a chip on my shoulder every year when this event rolls around, and within my circle of video gaming enthusiasts it seem I am in the minority in terms of how I view the event. Some of my friends like to watch the press conference for the gaffs and live mess-ups that are entertaining, some like seeing trailers or gameplay footage, and others watch to feel like they are a part of the frontlines of the gaming press. But I see the whole event as something far more sinister.

     E3 to me is not an event that boasts consumer advocacy to protect the costly investments of people who spend more then they should on quickly dated technology. E3 isn't a place where gamers are shown thanks for their dedication to franchises with stagnating quality by getting the requests they've been making for years. What E3 is, and last years focus on new consoles really cemented this idea for me, is a press event for shareholders. It is their open-to-the-public board room meeting where the biggest investors are shown the tricks to having people give them money for the next few years. It is carefully constructed and precisely calculated in order to give the illusion of "this is all for you because we love you,' while actually being just an elaborate slideshow of false promises and half-truths.

     Year after year these major gaming corporations bring out celebrities that have nothing to do with video games, and musical acts that are woefully out of place. That's because they are trying to appeal to as many non-gamers as possible. On the one hand, it's a good thing that there are more people playing video games than ever before. On the other more heavy handed hand, the one we are actually being presented with annually, they aren't bringing in more people with the merits of the medium that lifelong gamers have cherished/developed over years. But rather the pomp and circumstance that you would find in a magician's stage show. And that's what E3 is, an act.

     An act to make you, the consumer, feel like you are heard and cared for. But if you stop remember the empty promises of the last several E3's, a pattern emerges. False value placed on the expectations they push onto you, which you are supposed to applaud them for, and also forgive them when they under deliver. If there wasn't such fervor for something as simple as a new trailer or sneak peeks, then game publishers might not be as rushed as they are to get games out to market on time. Instead, they have to compete for the same holiday window and E3-style press events, forcing developers to push out ideas they know they aren't going to have time to complete. And that's the key word, completion.

     E3 boasts a ton of what-if's and potential to get you excited from something that will almost always be the same thing that you got on the previous generation of gaming console. A franchise like Dynasty Warriors doesn't pretend to be something it's not. It's an old school battleground hack-and-slash and it always will be. But for each Assassin's Creed or Call of Duty that comes out every single year, people treat these in such a "nothing will ever be the same" way that it forces hype to be the most important factor of a trailer. And when marketers are the most important part of your video game, then what you get is just an advertisement and an over-saturated market that ultimately hurts gamers. 

     If E3 was about fan appreciation, than there would have been a Final Fantasy 7 HD remake. If it was about catering to fans, then over priced map packs would have been $0.99 each and go towards charity. If it was about keeping their promises that they made the year before, then half of each major presentation would be apologizing for being unable to meet the very same expectations that they set up for everyone. But all these things is what E3 isn't. Because what E3 most certainly is, is hype. Because when people buy into hype they become rabid. And a rabid consumer will waste more of their money than an informed consumer will.

No comments: