Jun 11, 2012
E3 is the monolith of a fading goliath, the console gaming industry. It remains a celebration of the games with runaway budgets and ideas that have sunk many huge developers and publishers, including the well-publicized demise of 38 Studios. The games that truly define the industry, the mobile, social, and indie spaces, are still in the shadows. In one sense, things are as they once were: big glitzy press conferences trying to shill expensive games. But mobile is starting to creep into the limelight.
It’s not just the expanded presence of mobile. Mainstream gaming media seems to be catching on that the biggest factions of the industry are just putting out cookie-cutter projects. There was more commentary on the sheer number of hyper-violent games than before. There’s just an increased awareness that things are just becoming too similar, and too extreme in many cases.
However, the conferences had little hints of mobile. Microsoft pushed their SmartGlass feature that will let phones and tablets operate as second screens to the Xbox. Sony mentioned the expansion of Playstation Mobile. Nintendo didn’t have anything to say with mobile, but the Wii U controller seems very obviously inspired by tablets.
The show floor was a different beast, according to many people I spoke to, and even with some of the coverage. Many of the traditional publishers and developers had mobile games in their booths, where other events may have had them hidden away, or not at the show at all. Capcom even showed off a prototype of their Street Fighter X Tekken game for iOS that may or may not actually be released, but with the positive coverage, it may be a reality. GREE apparently had a big showing at E3 as well. Even just more press and mobile developers going shows that mobile is making big inroads into the console space that usually dominates the show.
Should we ever expect to see the next big social game or Temple Run indie title shown off at a big glamorous press conference for the general public to admire and pundits to scrutinize? No. But in an industry that is rapidly shifting, and one that may see all of the major competitors in vastly different roles in a few years from now (if they still exist at all), the most innovative sectors of the industry are finding a way to get the exposure they deserve compared to the relative dinosaurs of the industry.