Last week marked one of the most important five-day periods on the gaming industry calendar as millions turned their attention to the LA Convention Centre. In truth, for many of us (most notably the gaming press and our avid followers) E3 2012 had already kicked into full swing some weeks before. In a bid to grab a pre-emptive dose of exposure, gaming firms had been teasing, announcing, and failing to comment on speculation in every conceivable direction, leaving only a handful of surprises for the show itself.
That’s not to say E3 2012 was devoid of anything interesting or innovative. Sony and Microsoft may be building towards the announcement of next-generation hardware, though it hasn’t stopped the platform developers from ringing every last drop from the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Cross-integration of portable/connectible devices was definitely one of the key focuses for both global companies. In demonstrating Xbox’s SmartGlass, and to a lesser extent, the Vita’s compatibility with LittleBigPlanet 2 and DUST 514, Sony and Microsoft have made decent attempts to steal the Wii U’s thunder.
By and large, the three big names in gaming have had their hands tied. Being the first to venture into the next-generation of video gaming, Nintendo is carrying an immense amount of pressure in trying to deliver innovative hardware that doesn’t come across as a ill-conceived gimmick. Not only that, the firm is still trying to secure a hardcore base for the 3DS which, despite a troubled start, is starting to amass a solid roster of first and third party hitters.
In the case of Sony and Microsoft, both are waiting to reveal their newest iterations of gaming hardware. It’s anyone’s guess as to how the two gaming powerhouses plan on making the transition to next-gen, though it’s clear that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 won’t be cast to one side during this process. Microsoft came out all guns blazing (quite literally) with a slew of predictable yet no less exciting sequels, helmed by Halo 4 and Gears of War: Judgement. Despite initial reactions to its Tuesday conference, Sony has by no means taken the safe route leading into 2013. Like Microsoft, there has been an even bigger focus on third party support, though once again Sony is banking on its more unconventional offerings in the form of DUST 514, The Last of Us, Beyond, and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.
Sony may have appealed to the more adventurous gamer, which is never a bad thing, though as we’ve seen with games such as Starhawk and Sorcery (especially here in the UK) the company needs to be way more hands-on with its approach to marketing. Sony also surprised critics by leaving the PlayStation Vita in the changing rooms, having only shown it on brief occasions during its E3 conference. There may well be a plan in place for TGS and a sturdy string of upcoming titles, though if there was one venue for Sony to demonstrate they mean business with their impressive gaming handhold, that was it.
Third party publishers haven’t been quite as limited in their options. The lack of any huge announcements from EA clearly denotes that the company is re-calibrating its output for next-gen, but it still had a strong showing with Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Medal of Honor, and Crysis 3. Ubisoft hasn’t been quite as conservative and it’s really paid off for them. Somehow suturing the void between current gaming platforms and what lies beyond, the firm unleashed a barrage of heavy-hitting sequels, also revealing their plans for the Wii U and the e-sport scene.
The dust is just beginning to settle, though discussion, analysis and debate are likely to carry on for weeks, if not months. Taking a break from last week’s madness, we reflect on E3 2012, sharing our overall impressions. You can catch our highlights and disappointments of the expo over the next few pages. Be sure to get engaged and vent your opinions in the comment section below.