Consumers who are so often stereotypically divided stood united after E3. They tossed their respective passions for Mario, Master Chief and Sackboy aside to collectively contemplate E3 2012, and responded with a resounding three words that reverberated across all four walls of the internet; is that it?
And on the face of it, who can blame them? Microsoft staged Usher while Sony ignored the Vita, only for Nintendo to also underwhelm with NintendoLand and miss the opportunity to take the industry’s biggest month by storm.[drop]All three could have certainly done more to impress, but maybe they were always doomed to disappoint the participants of an industry where new technology and unique experiences are of perpetual expectation and sometimes no longer enough to satisfy.
We are so accustomed to seeing the metaphorical bar being pushed that we are becoming somewhat desensitised to the advancements that are forced to serve an audience who are becoming increasingly demanding.
Not only do titles need to instantly gratify “a Twitter generation” they are expected to use the height of modern technology to deliver the unexpected, and that is a predictably difficult task when videogames have already covered so many fronts.
Furthermore, to fulfill just one of the aforementioned expectations isn’t enough; take Wonder Book, for example. It’s an interesting and innovative concept that uses augmented reality technology, but because the (admittedly flawed) demo wasn’t fast-paced and didn’t include some degree of violent conflict, some consumers were very quick to dismiss and denounce it.
While hinting that violence is the best (and ultimately most profitable) way to entertain, the reaction to the demo could also be argued to highlight an inability to savour something before feeling compelled to taste the next. Instead of using the time to contemplate the potential prospects of the concept, it was left to Twitter to provide the instant gratification that wasn’t being provided by Sony.[drop2]In fairness, this reaction could have been born largely through frustration; allowing Wonder Book to take the stage over Vita was an awful decision and understandably got devotees of the portable hot under the collar.
It also goes without saying that E3 is meant to showcase the best of the industry, but the underwhelming impression that was provided across the board could again be due to preconceived expectations and individual definitions of what forms top quality entertainment.
As a result, it’s hard to know whether E3 2012 was genuinely disappointing or whether the ever-changing media landscape and consumer expectations made it so. There were some standout moments that received the positive coverage they deserved (Watch Dogs being a primary example) but a large number of conference reviews appeared unmoved by the majority of content on show, which suggests two alternate conclusions.
It’s feasible that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo viewed E3 2012 as the Euro’s in preparation for the World Cup of E3 2013, but it’s just as likely that we no longer realise the quality we are being treated to, take it for granted, and thus demand better. It’s this demand that drives progress, but if it has indeed got to the extent where consumers can no longer fully enjoy a product for want of a better one (especially at an event like E3) then surely something has to change.