E3 positions itself as the biggest, most important convention for the games industry. Here is the place where the big announcements are made and the who’s who of the most important game developers, publishers, and console manufacturers come together to not only show us what we’ll be playing over the next year, but the very direction that the games industry is heading.
In that context, the absence of Apple is a great big gap in E3’s strategy. Without it the media and consumers are not getting the full picture on what is happening with the games industry, and the conference’s positioning as the ultimate representation of the industry is a flawed one.
Now, I know amongst traditional gamers there is a stubborn resistance to Apple as a gaming platform. We’re told over and over again that the lack of buttons means it’s impossible to play good games on the iPhone and iPad (conveniently ignoring the many great games that are on these devices and run perfectly well, if not better than their console counterparts). On an anecdotal level I have felt in the past year as the Apple devices – iPad especially – have been swamped with brilliant games that stubbornness is starting to erode, but there’s still resistance there from the laggards that like things the way they were before.
By the same token there are a lot of gamers, including the truly hardcore, who have embraced Apple’s platforms. There are those of us that check the App store every week for any new, great game releases. And there is no shortage of those. I’m sure everyone who follows the games industry would have noticed that most developers and publishers are falling over themselves to make a play in the iOS space. Some – Activision being the most obvious example – are only dabbling, but for others, such as EA and Square Enix, mobile has become a core part of the business.
This piece isn’t to discuss whether that play is a good idea from a business perspective or not – that’s another piece for another day – but rather simply highlight that when a large piece of the game development pie is going to Apple’s platforms, it is unfortunate that Apple itself isn’t a part of the show to explain its own direction and hardware developments.
Of course, it makes sense from Apple’s point of view not to attend – it holds its own conferences and has no trouble getting the media to come along, so why would it want to be one voice amongst many when it can be the only voice that the many are listening to – but I have to wonder whether the organisers of E3 are pushing for Apple to attend. Or to put it another way – E3 needs Apple, not the other way around, so the great question is what would it take to get Apple to come to the party?
Because until it does, E3 can only be truly representative of a part of the games industry. Not all of it.