Of the whole of the game industry, nothing has forced me to rewrite my lesson plans as much as E3 with its unexpected "downsizing" last year. So, I'll take this opportunity to read between the lines in the media coverage -- a useful skill that I try to teach in Game Industry Survey, since it's rare to see a negative spin on anything, but you can still spot it if you look closely.
Focus on First Party. ("First Party" are the console manufacturers, for those of you just joining us.) There was a lot more squawking about Xbox 360 vs. Wii vs. PS3 than there was about the games themselves. Given that this is the first E3 in the new console generation, I suppose it's only natural. But how quick people are to forget that a new system is only as good as its games!
Price Wars? There was a lot of talk about "price wars" among consoles. As far as I could tell, this consists of Sony threatening to drop the price of the PS3 and then raise it again, while Microsoft and Nintendo mostly ignore them. Doesn't a "war" require two parties? Maybe "price civil war" would be a more accurate description.
Console Hype. Overhyping is alive and well, thanks. Sony claims that Blu-Ray is the future and HD-DVD will be dead within months, so that's why you need to buy a PS3, yeah that's the ticket. Microsoft responds that their death has been greatly exaggerated, and by the way if it does die they'll just make a Blu-Ray peripheral for the 360, and we've got better games, so nyaah. Nintendo ignores them both and just states for the record that they think they'll sell a hundred million Wii. Wiis. Wii's. Wiii. Oh, whatever.
Games for Girls. Ubisoft announces "Imagine", a series of games targeted at girls age 6-14. Due to "extensive research" of the target market. And the games will allow girls to "explore their favorite interests and hobbies". Do these people not study their history? This is almost word-for-word what Purple Moon was claiming to do, and we all know how that turned out.
Oh, and I hear there were some cool games announced at this year's E3, too.
As for whether this is the death of E3, or same old same old, people seem split about 50/50. Personally, I'm more likely to listen to someone's opinion if they're not wearing a chicken suit. But hey, that's just me.