Some industry insiders are calling it the best E3 conference yet. Electronics and entertainment companies are counting on it.
E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is an annual video game conference held in Los Angeles. The show is the premiere venue for announcements by hardware, console, and game developers.
Hardware has been a relatively minor aspect of this year’s E3 convention. Next-generation consoles such as the rumored Xbox 720 and Playstation 4 are noticeably absent.
The only major console developer introducing new hardware is Nintendo, and the Wii U is anything but a surprise. The new controller/mobile platform was first announced at the 2011 E3 conference, and after a year of development it is finally being shown as a finished product.
Microsoft is introducing a new system that will turn tablets and smartphones into a second screen that interfaces with the Xbox 360. At first it appeared that Microsoft was introducing a Wii U-style tablet controller, but Microsoft SmartGlass is actually an app that will allow users to expand the uses of their existing hardware.
SmartGlass will interface not only with games, but also with other services such as HBO Go and Netflix. It will also function as a much-needed keyboard for the Xbox 360.
2012 is the year for threequels, with Crysis 3, Dead Space 3, Far Cry 3, Assassin’s Creed III, Doom 3, Pikmin 3, Lost Planet 3, and Madagascar 3 all promoted at E3. Other sequels are also getting a big push this year, such as Resident Evil 6, Halo 4, Borderlands 2, and a new prequel to the Lara Croft series.
There are still plenty of original games coming out, too. Star Wars 1313, while set in the Star Wars universe, is a completely new game focusing on non-Jedi citizens. Sony is promoting The Last of Us, a post-apocalyptic survival game that will push the boundaries of the genre.
Smaller, unhyped games also managed to surprise attendees. The Unfinished Swan was declared E3 Best in Show from Forbes. A highly original and unconventional exploration game, The Unfinished Swan might be the breakout hit of the week.
Overall, the lack of new console announcements made it feel as though the major gaming companies are holding back, waiting to debut their next-generation systems until E3 2013. It’s a disappointment to fans looking forward to big news, but it’s better for companies to have a solid product under them before they make big claims. They might be taking a lesson from Nintendo’s Wii U announcement last year, which has been second-guessed for a full year before the working product debuted last week.
While the lack of new hardware might have been a disappointment, the wide range of new games being debuted is why this E3 might be the best yet. In 2012 and through 2013, fans will have plenty of games, both old series and new titles, to satisfy their entertainment needs.