With E3 still in full swing this week, I’m conflicted about calling it so early, but unless someone unveils something huge in the next 24hrs, I’m going to call this one of the most disappointing E3’s in recent memory.
Since it’s the closest to my wheelhouse, I’m going to start with Microsoft. Right off the bat I was completely floored by the amount of Kinect bullshit being peddled during the keynote. Let me be clear, the keynote speech, at 11:30 on a Monday morning, it not for casual gamers. Your Mom is not sitting at home waiting to hear about the next Dance Revolution game, I promise. No, that keynote is for the media and the hard core fans. The most hard of the core. Every single fucking game, whether it needed it or not, now includes some form of asinine Kinect integration. I will not play Ghost Recon by waving my hands around like a dumbass. I will not play Mass Effect by talking to it. I will not make big giant air circles to cast spells in Fable. There is ZERO desire in my gaming heart to do any of those things. I can’t believe that Microsoft is so completely ignoring it’s base.
Let’s look at it by the numbers, and just to show that I’m not making these up, you can check both the VGCharts and ESA for these. On estimate, worldwide, in this console generation, there have been 190 million units sold. 86 million Wii, 56 million 360’s and 50 million PS3s. That’s a fact. Also a fact is that in an ESA survey, 42% of gamers own 2 or more consoles. Seeing at how the Wii nearly doubles the sales of the other two, it’s a safe bet to assume that most people own either a PS3 OR a 360 AND a Wii. That means that half the “hardcore base” already has a device that does motion. Add to that the fact that Microsoft has sold 10 million Kinect devices (stand alones and bundles) and you get slightly less than 1/5 of the Xbox community embracing the technology. That’s 20%. That leaves 80% of the market filled with people who already own a system AND don’t want to jump around the living room like ADHD sufferers without their meds. As far as I can tell, that 80% just got completely fucking ignored this week.
Also aggravating is that most “Kinect support” fells tacked on and pointless. Why on earth do I need a Kinect to do voice recognition in Mass Effect 3? Doesn’t the console already come with a headset? If there’s no motion being captured, why is Kinect a requirement? Isn’t it just software at that point? Also, why make a menu system for Ghost Recon that takes LONGER to select a gun from than just using the controller. It would give me tennis elbow just to customize my weapons. And adding in the feature to tell the game to “randomize” my gun choice? What the hell? I’m in a menu, SELECTING a gun. If I wanted to randomly select one, I wouldn’t be in a fucking menu in the first place! The worst example is Fable, a series I’ve now completely given up on. I finished the first two, struggled half way through the third and I have no desire to play the fourth. With the nature of that game and the number of enemies that spawn in dungeons (because, according to Lionhead studios, quantity of enemies clearly equals quality), you’d have to endure full-on gymnastic routines just to get to the next village if you played it with the Kinect. Drawing huge circle in the air and “throwing” spells is the fastest way to get me to turn the game off, or to have Tommy John surgery, either one. Lastly, show me ONE hardcore football guy that’s going to sit in his living room, with his guy friends, and take fake snaps of the football while everyone watches. Not. Going. To. Happen.
Thank goodness Call of Duty and Battlefield 3 have stayed true to their roots. If I had to hold my hands in a mock steering wheel position to drive a tank I would have gone mental. A couple other titles did squeak into the corner of my periphery, and not from the MS keynote either. EA released a new game play trailer for SSX which looks ridiculously perfect. Also Overstrike from Insomniac looks promising, although I would have liked to see some gameplay footage. Mass Effect 3 is still in the running for a quality release, despite a poor voice acting bullshit audition on stage. I can’t wait to play the game… with my microphone unplugged.
Everything else looks completely bland and uninteresting, including Gears of War 3 which managed, somehow, to make me really not give a crap. Minecraft for the 360 is quite possibly the biggest sell-out I’ve ever seen, the Star Wars demo was so terrible even the 40yr old virgins were unimpressed, Tomb Raider was nothing but heavy breathing and claustrophobia, Fable was incredibly weak and Halo is now officially a cash grab. The entire thing was a weak attempt to either woo a demographic that wasn’t watching or a desperate attempt to win over the hardcore demographic that might have been on the fence about Kinect. It really did neither.
The Nintendo presentation was equally troublesome. After all these years, after all the wonderful childhood memories, the best they can come up with is a controller the size of a iPad and the 134th version of the same Legend of Zelda game. Oh, but wait, now you can
play buy MarioKart, again, for the other new console your kids are going to make you buy. Because, let’s face it, as an adult, there’s really only so much Mario one person can play. It’s really just gotten sad at this point. Seriously, all Nintendo is offering and a terribly named (even worse logo’ed) console that they should have made 3 years ago, 12 Zelda titles, Mario, Luigi, MarioKart, Smash Brothers and Star Fox. Their line up hasn’t changed since 1999. Even the games they “teased” were Mario Party, Ninja Gaiden and Kirby. Everything else isn’t a console exclusive. Dirt, Ghost Recon, Tekken, Batman.
I’m glad they actually solidified the release of non-kid games for their console, but the fact that half their current audience already has a system that they prefer to play those games certainly won’t make them just ship. What’s my motivation for playing Batman on the
LimpDick Wii:U instead of the Xbox? Or why would I play a weird downgraded Ghost Recon on the Nintendo instead of Xbox Live or PSN, where my friends already are? Also, can we talk about the name. Really? You followed up the console named for a penis with, literally, a logo that looks like a dick. No one in the marketing department thought this was a bad idea? Wow.
I hate to say it gamers, but we’ve got to start demanding better or else they’re going to keep getting away with this. Every time you hear someone say it’s “ground breaking” or “revolutionary” or “the next step/stage of gaming”, you have my full permission to call them on their bullshit. The only things that are revolutionary in gaming are brand new IPs, which we saw very few of, and major console launches which only happen once a decade. Until we get there, it’s the same old crap, just with higher numbers on the boxes.
The main issue to me (Nintendo aside) is that we already knew about most of the software already and most of that software is sequel-based. Mass Effect, Gears of War, Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider, SSX, Uncharted, Ratchet & Clank, Bioshock Infinite, The Old Republic, Prototype, Darksiders, Saints Row, Batman. We already knew all of those were coming and we already played games in those universes. I like knowing about stuff as soon as possible and I like revisiting great IP, but it really kills the excitement of events like E3.