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Thursday, June 7, 2012

E3 2012: No one won

Another E3 has drawn to a close, the journalists have all packed up and gone home. We return to regularly scheduled viewing from tomorrow.

Of course there’s going to be a lot of discussion in the press and in the forums about who ‘won’ E3 2012, and there were a few great presentations through the conference – even a few surprises. I think everyone was blown away by Ubisoft, for instance.

But the reality is that E3 2012 was a disappointing one. No one won. E3 has lost a lot of its relevance, and is really struggling to be more than a place for the media and industry to hang out for a couple of days. It’s largely due to the Internet. We’re in an era now where it’s almost impossible to keep things secret. Product leaks force the hands of developers and publishers, games are unveiled early, and consumers don’t have the patience to wait for information to be fed to them.

Back in the day, where print news was very relevant in the gaming world, conventions like E3 were the best possible avenue to get the media together, and give them the news. Big unveils could dominate magazine covers, interviews with top developers could be organised relatively easily, and the show would be a big part of the yearly marketing campaign.

But the democratisation of information from the Internet has rendered that largely irrelevant. Nintendo holds regular video miniconferences to show off its upcoming games. As a consequence E3 held precious little new information for Nintendo fans to get excited over. The 3DS event, especially, was a waste of an hour when you consider the biggest announcement was that Fire Emblem was announced for an American release.

Sony and Microsoft, too, keep regular communication up with their fans through blogs and the like. And by doing that they can keep the flow of new information coming all year long. We don’t need E3 to see games in motion for the first time, we have YouTube and streaming services for that now.

If we had not have known about all these games before, E3 2012 would have been spectacular. All the major publishers put forward a compelling roadmap for the year in their own way. But because we already knew about almost everything shown (the sole exception being Ubisoft that somehow managed to keep one secret), E3 2012 was simply not exciting. So no one won.

Discussion time: What did you think of E3 2012? Do you believe the conference is still relevant? What value does it have for you? Let us know in the comments!
E3 2012: No one won
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