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E3 2012 Impressions

Most Anticipated Game

Beyond: Two Souls: Out of every video game across every device (console/phone/PC) that we’ve seen during the past six years, the one that really captured my daughter’s imagination (who is now 13) the most was Heavy Rain. She normally doesn’t play video games, almost every other game shown wouldn’t grab her attention, but she has literally played through Heavy Rain. Even her friends (who also don’t play games) are tempted to buy a PS3 for this one title. I’m dying to get this new game for her and see her experience it.

Last of Us

Can someone explain how this is different from Uncharted? Uncharted is great, but I have to say, I was hoping for something a little more distinct.

Best E3 Interview

Microsoft Overall

Microsoft wants to own the platform, the OS, the technology standards, and the software dev tools. They want to minimize their involvement in the creative content side of things, and this shows: there are tons of great non-exclusive games to keep the crowd happy.

SmartGlass is pure vaporware in that there was no kind of product to show and it was all just presentation and marketing materials. I like the concept, but it’s pretty safe. We are seeing an explosion of interest in smartphones and tablets and a proliferation of those devices, it is inevitable to see more ways of interconnecting different gadgets to each other.

Wii U

There’s enough great content that I’ll eagerly buy one, but still, for a new 2012, non-portable, dedicated gaming console, this is underwhelming. Also, that tablet controller looks completely ridiculous. It sounds like everyone is saying the same thing. I thought Wii Sports looked dumb (I still do), so I’m not a good sample of the mass market consumer.

Stereo 3D

Sony carefully avoided any stereo 3D talk. Clearly, it’s a sore subject and the PR implications are negative. Believe it or not, many of us, actually enjoy stereo 3D in games. Can’t we at least get a 3D option for the 2012 sizzle videos? Mainstream stereo 3D seems inevitable if head mounted displays (video glasses/goggles) take off, but until then, it seems like stereo 3D will be a small niche.

Mobile (Android/iOS)

For all the consumer adoption and excitement around these platforms, there is a shocking lack of serious games. On second thought, this isn’t so shocking, when you think of why:

  • Touchscreen/tilt controls haven’t found a hit genre. Strategy RPGs and 4x games seem ideal for touch screen, but those haven’t taken off.
  • Storage space. Apple imposes a 2GB limit for iPhone apps. This makes sense given that even the base model of the latest iPhone 4S only has 16GB of total storage which isn’t upgradeable and must be shared by all games, photos, music, movies, and the system itself. On PS3, each game ships on its own Blu-Ray disc, which can hold ~50GB of content.
  • The market expects to pay much, much lower prices than they do in the console world.
  • Fragmentation. Android is known for fragmentation, but even iOS is highly fragmented among hardware revisions and smartphone/tablet form factors.

Overall Show

The quantity and quality of innovation shown in game development is staggering. In past years, I felt like the show was overwhelmed by mostly simple shooting games, and that was definitely not the case this year. Sony is the strongest source of quality content as usual, but there were tons of quality titles from other publishers, and independent studios.

There was no major new hardware, and I’m glad to see games get the focus of the show this year before next year, when it will probably be all about hardware again.