Welcome to Beyond Co-Op E3 Edition where I link up all I can from sister site Colony of Gamers and other trusted locations about single-player games that have little to nothing in relation to co-op gaming.
The stories for Day Two of E3:
- Konami Press Conference
- Show Floor Previews
- Overall Thoughts
- E3 Editoral: Is it Needed?
Konami Press Conference
First off we found any known livestream closed off for us as the conference started. Konami had their own livestream, but their site was pounded and unlike the other ones G4 television did not show it live. Luckily a user at CoG gave us a couple links so we all could watch the livestream. In some ways I wish I had never seen it since the Konami presser during E3 always seems like an abortion. Why not set it up like all the others outside the Convention Center and before E3 begins? Guess we’ll never know.
A lot of time was spent on new dance and singing games coming out, the biggest of which was Dance Master for Kinect and Karaoke Revolution: Glee which will include a lot of the songs from Glee, a show I recommend to everyone. I know it sounds lame, but it is really good!
Saw II was announced and will include Tobin Bell’s voice and likeness evidently. I never played the first one, so I can’t say anything about how good the game was. It is due this holiday on 360 and PS3. Then one of Konami’s many Japanese developers came up to show Ninety Nine Nights 2 coming later this month on 360 only. He basically looked and talked like he had just taken a hit of something, but the video of the game actually looked interesting. Once again, never played the original, so I can’t comment on how good this game could be.
Otomedius Excellent was shown off next. An anime inspired Shmup (shoot ‘em up) with Gradius style gameplay, but you play as a group of women pilots. I did not hear when it was coming out or what it was coming out to. Next up was Adrenaline Misfits, another Kinect game. This is a racer where you play as made up animals. Certainly geared towards the kids and/or family.
Up next was Hudson showing off four games. First one was Beyblade: Metal Masters for Wii and DS. Then Deca Sports 3 for Wii. Then Deca Sports Freedom for Kinect. Finally they showed off an interesting game called Lost in Shadow where your character’s shadow breaks off from his corporal form and the rest of the game is spent getting the shadow back to the body. 2D side scroller it looks like and it is coming to Wii this fall.
The next Silent Hill was shown, the 8th in the series according to the press release that came out later. It will be coming sometime in 2011 for 360 and PS3. Not much was shown of the game, but there was a part with the main character (or one of them) holding a flashlight looking around while wielding a gun. Reminded me of Alan Wake, but we really won’t know what type of gameplay there is until we see it played live. The producers said the controls and game itself was all different, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Then an interesting game came up, Never Dead. I don’t totally understand the story about it, but basically the lead guy character can lose any limb and still live, pick it up and reattach it or something like that. 3rd person action game, looks a bit generic, but really we were only shown a quick video.
Then they carted out their two big franchises: Metal Gear Solid: Rising and Castlevania: Harmony of Despair on XBLA and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow on 360 and PS3. Rising is set between MGS2 and 4 and I kind of zoned out as the Japanese translator was translating things. Next up was the IGA coming out for his franchise, first showing off the XBLA game that looks interesting and includes several of the characters in the overall series and up to 6-player play at the same time. Lords of Shadow then got an extended video that showed us some well-known (Patrick Stewart) and semi-well-known (the guy who plays Professor Rush in Stargate Universe is the main character) actors who will be lending the characters their voices. The game looks interesting, although not much in the way of gameplay was shown, mostly CGI stuff. The game comes out in the fall…I’m pretty excited. That was about it for the presser.
Show Floor Previews
I caught some things on G4 television once their coverage began at 6pm ET today (I’ll talk about this later in my editorial at the bottom). Most of the time they showed video that had already been at various press conferences and really not any “hands-on” play. Then there were some that did indeed have that kind of setup. The biggest wow for me today would probably be id software’s Rage. It was running on a 360 and was butter smooth and looked awesome as the person was playing. This could bring id back into the picture for engine selling, making both them and Bethesda money. I don’t think this will be a one and done like Doom 3, this looks like the real deal. Unfortunately we still have to wait until 2011 to play it.
Gran Turismo 5, now with a release date of November 2, looked really good in hands-on play as well. They only showed off the NASCAR-based races, but it was played inside the cockpit of the car and the game ran smoothly. They keep adding featuers to the game though (3D, head tracking w/the Eyetoy I’m guessing) and I hope Novembmer 2 is a solid date finally.
Gears of War 3, Dead Space 2 and Killzone 3 all had people to talk about the game, but the video shown was the same as the ones from the conferences. I’m interested in these games, why can’t we see something outside of the video already shown to us? I realize these are all due in April, January and February respectively, but come on! Rage was shown with live play and that’s probably coming after all of these. Just frustrating.
Rock Band 3 will be awesome, there’s no doubt about it. Somehow Harmonix has done the unthinkable and re-energized a dead genre in my mind by adding new instruments and more in-depth guitars to play with (and adding cymbals to the drum kit). Sure, it’ll cost an arm and a leg probably, but they never cease to amaze me. Haven’t heard much about the new Guitar Hero and I’ve been a big supporter of the series, but I have no doubt Rock Band 3 will be better…too much innovation.
So far, Colony of Gamers only has one show report if you want to check it out. Scott Benton (Psykoboy2, who was on camera at the Sony conference twice!) brings us a look at Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. Enjoy it. The gang also did a podcast for their Day 1 Impressions. I haven’t listened yet, so I can’t detail what is in it, but hope to at some point when I get some free time.
Hitting my friends over at Joystiq, these are some of the more single-player games they looked at today:
As E3 moved into Day 2, the big stories aren’t as plentiful and the e-mail box becomes less clogged. It’s important for them to have a 3-day event because it is impossible for one person to hit everything in a day. Even when you have sites with lots of people they often don’t touch everything or split things up by person and one of them may not see something they wanted to because they’re covering their beat.
What will I most take away from today? The beauty of Rage when it was played live on G4 television. This is the type of stuff I want to see G4 covering, not the oddball crap they have their ancillary personalities checking out while Kevin, Olivia, Morgan and Adam get to do all the stage work. My pure vitriol is saved for the last entry in this Beyond Co-Op, so let’s get to it.
E3 Editoral: Is it Needed?
I’ve been to E3 before when it was the spectacle it once again is. I know Nick (bapenguin) went when it was done in the hangar in Santa Monica and this is the first time he is experiencing the massive E3. My answer to the question above? No, we don’t need E3 anymore. Stay with me here, I’m about to drop some insider information that many people probably don’t know.
From a cost perspective, the companies would probably rather not have to go to E3. I’m sure the booths cost a lot of money and you’re hoping people see your games and hardware and get interested in them. The problem is you are basically relying on the blogging press. I say blogging press as an analogy to those of us that do this on a volunteer basis and work on smaller sites than the large ones out there that I will get to in a bit. The “blogging press” (by my definition) is where you virally get your information out there. You hope regular game players will check out these sites and read about their games and get excited for them. For the most part, E3 is at its most useful when people are generating buzz about the little known things. These are products that could be sleepers (like Scribblenauts last year that turned out not as fantastic as first though) or need that little extra “press” to get rolling. This is all well and good. If E3 was made up of just those companies, I could say yes to my above question, but the truth is the big dogs rule the house at E3 because of their membership in the ESA (Electronic Software Association) that puts on the expo.
Next up is the established gaming and paper press. This includes such places as Game Informer, Wired, The New York Times, USA Today, LA Times, MTV Multiplayer, G4 TV, GameTrailers (Geoff Keighly mostly), IGN, Gamespot, UGO/1Up, Joystiq, Kotaku, Destructoid and other more major sites I am forgetting about where people’s full-time jobs are spent writing about games and getting paid for it. The insider information I am about to unload? Each of those places have already seen and played most, if not all, the major games before E3 even starts. Best as I can tell, this started around E3 2007 when they were in Santa Monica that year and in 2008. The expo was dated in middle July for the first time where it had been in mid-May earlier and now sometime in June with 2009 and 2010. About 10k people were invited to E3 2007 and about 5k for 2008. This is beside the point, but I wanted to show how much smaller E3 was during those years.
The insider secret is that most of the major publishers have media days in May where E3 used to reside. Journalists are jetted off to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles (and maybe some other places) where they get hands-on play with the games that are shown at E3. They sign an NDA to not talk about the games until E3 starts and are basically given a couple weeks (last year since E3 was in early June) or a month (this year) to write out their previews and then add in additional thoughts once they’ve played the probably updated build on the show floor. This covers most of the major games and that of course translates into most of the games G4 shows on their live coverage. Problem is G4 has cut back a lot of hours on covering E3. It used to be they would be on almost all day with live coverage. Tonight? 2 whole hours and they didn’t cover the Konami conference live.
Granted, there are still surprises. I don’t think anyone in the gaming press knew about Valve and their Portal 2 shocker at the Sony conference, either that or people kept their mouths zipped about it. There is also the possibility no one had seen Zelda: Skyward Sword before the Nintendo conference, but there were plenty of rumors and probably hands-on with some of those other “surprise” Nintendo games. Same thing goes for Kinect and Move. They probably didn’t know the rename of Natal until USA Today broke it, but they had played many of those games at Microsoft and Sony HQ in May, no doubt about it.
So, E3 really comes down to those small companies looking for some press and the “blogging press” to get a chance to play these games. Sometimes people in the “blogging press” section do get invited to some of the May media days, but for the most part we are shut out.
So, the question rises again: is E3 needed? I say no and I’ll give you the reasons. Since most of the “blogging press” doesn’t get paid, we pay our own ways to Los Angeles and it can cost a lot of money. I think the CoG guys amount came up to over $2k total and we only asked for donations up to $1k to cover half of it. I know the one year went it hit my pocketbook hard and is probably the major reason I don’t go now.
The aforementioned established gaming and paper press most likely get their flight, lodging and amenities paid for by their employer or at least reimbursed later. No real money out of their pocket outside of ancillary things AND they’re getting paid for doing what they do while they are there. I think it’s pretty well known even by casual readers that the press (both established and the “blogging” one) is often sent to publisher’s locations on the publisher’s dime, but maybe they don’t. Some people like Shoe Hsu when he was at EGM said he never let publisher’s pay for his way in order to keep credibility. I applaud him for that, but I’m also sure that EGM’s publisher reimbursed whatever he paid, plus he didn’t have far to go if he needed to go somewhere. He’d only have to fly to Los Angeles or Seattle if an event wasn’t going on in San Francisco where he was located.
Keeping this all in mind, we move back to the publishers. At the bottom line I am willing to bet it costs them less to fly in and lodge the established and selected “blogging” press to a media event than it costs them to buy space and put up a booth at the Los Angeles Convention Center for E3. Add into this the major players (Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, Activision, Nintendo and Sony) who spend money to rent buildings for their press conferences and probably pay some key guests to be at their conference and it all begins to add up. Rumor was the Activision event, with its loaded musical acts (Eminem, JayZ, N.E.R.D., Chris Cornell, etc.), cost $6 million dollars to produce and included free drinks and food to those attending. Those same people that rip Activision apart daily were more than happy to accept free food, drinks and multiple concerts? Now, I don’t think most people knew what they were getting into when Activision invited us other than it was at the Staples Center. Some games were shown, but it was more spectacle than anything else from my understanding. I have no problem with Activision personally, I enjoy many of their games (and have ripped many in reviews) and I’ve had a long relationship with their PR team, but to this point we haven’t been invited to events like my former site did years ago (and still is).
So, the basis of my argument is that it would be cheaper for the publishers to not do E3 and continue to do their media days, but allow the established press that is invited to release the information within a couple weeks of it happening. Granted, it will hurt the “blogging press” because we won’t have the hands-on info of E3, but in many cases we are re-reporting the news we saw at another site and we’re spending lots of money to get to E3 in a lot of cases. E3 is great and all, but I think it has overstayed its welcome.. Booth babes are back this year it seems, another extravagance that really isn’t needed. The cost is too prohibitive for the “blogging press” (unless you live in California/Los Angeles) while the established press has everything paid for and they’re making money while they are on the E3 floor. Just a bad situation, CES is becoming like this too.
Bottom line is E3 is not needed. There, I said it. I think the established press can be harnessed by the “blogging press” and deliver the same information they could whether they were at E3 or not because the established press has already seen many or all of these games a month before and already have the copy ready for some add-ins and posting. The publishers are just very afraid to attempt to pull away from the ESA. Activision did it for a bit and they seemed to do fine without being at E3. The majors could still have their press conferences, but many of them could do it on their property or near their HQ. If E3 was just about the smaller companies I could agree with it, but the big dogs are the only thing that’s really ever shown or touched on by the established press, so it takes a causal reader to really look for those diamonds in the rough and start checking out the “blogging press” that may spend more time on those little games.
OK, that’s it for me today. Sorry to be Debbie Downer at the end there, but I felt some perspective was needed to something most people may not know about. I’ve never been invited to these media events, but I certainly hear from attendees (no one connected to CoG or Co-Optimus) how the games were and told to keep my mouth shut about it.