REPLY TO ALL: The Coverage of E3 11

Everyone consumes E3 news in their own way. How has 2011 been treating you? Whose coverage has been keeping you in the loop and whose has been confusing? Do you try and keep up with the news each day, wait for summaries, or are you just waiting for the dust to settle next week?

Justin L (JDevL)

This was a very odd E3 for me, it was the first year since the press conferences started streaming live, that I was unable to watch them live (due to work obligations). I had to be much more selective in my consumption to get caught up every evening. Then, I found I didn’t have near as much time to reflect on what I’d seen before we talked about them on the podcasts. So it ended up being the most physically draining E3 for me. I was dodging rumors and stories, until I had time to get them. Thankfully, Giant Bomb’s news staff stepped up, they covered the stories I cared about and gave me a good barometer of what to seek out elsewhere. I bounced between Joystiq, Game Informer, G4, and the ridiculous and endless stream of videos on GameTrailers. I think Destructoid was my only normal news source that put me off more than usual (even though they made a strong comeback at the end of the week with their video recaps). They weren’t the only ones doing this, but the number of stories they pumped out during the conferences themselves were being handled better as a live blog elsewhere. But that’s just preference for me, I prefer a large summary to individual stories, especially when those stories don’t have time to go into a lot of detail.

Worth watching live?

Josh (joshleedotcom)

I try to watch the big press conferences live.  Thankfully, you can get the feeds directly from the company’s websites now.  Plenty of sites had a single news post with links to all the live feeds, and most of those pages had the shows archived immediately afterwards.  The convenience of it all was amazing, and this meant I didn’t have to rely on shitty “live blogs” to keep up.

Not all of E3’s content is this easy to get at, though.  There are countless games on the show floor that don’t make it into the media events, and finding coverage for all of those titles can be frustrating.  Maybe I’m expecting too much out of these large game sites.  I know there will be articles and stories coming out for weeks to come, but I want my content now!  The bigger problem is sorting through the coverage that is already out there.  Even a site like Giant Bomb with their fantastic database has trouble presenting all of their E3 content in an easily consumable way.  Also, most of the news feeds got clogged up with the multitude of trailers that were released each day.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could hit up a publisher’s webpage and view live video feeds of their booth?  Show me the experience that visitors get at the exhibit.  Let me switch cameras to view the different game demonstrations.  Am I asking for too much?

JP (JPizzle151)

E3 sure was daunting this year. I have to admit, at times I was extremely overwhelmed by the sure amount of content that was out there to digest and form an opinion on. When it comes to E3, I try to look more at the games that are announced or showed off over the big three. I have been digesting my news by reading headlines across sites. To be honest the best site for me this year has been Game Informer. The content was very easy to find and the headlines were labeled very well. GI also did a great ‘live blog’ on Twitter. They were posting announcements as they came out during the major press conferences. That made it easier to figure out what I want to read more about and what I want to ignore.  I just found GI much easier to digest than IGN. Speaking of IGN, I felt that they were extra pretentious this year. IGN also seemed to be in bed with Sony amongst others leaving their content very tough to digest. It seemed as if they were giving mixed and bias signals all over the place. Not to mention they received a Guinness world record this week (who cares?). IGN needs learn to play down the middle now that they are on their own. Content was also very hard to find on their site, and overall the IGN E3 experience was just a big mess.

They even have more impressive posters!

I have been mostly digesting summaries towards the end of the day. I haven’t had the time to look at the various sites through out the day. I (like Josh) refuse to read any live blog feed. They are bullshit and are very hard to read. I would rather read someone’s impressions of an announcement once the fan boy inside settles down a little bit. My biggest disappointment with the E3 coverage this year, is the bias. I just felt that there was to much bias amongst various sites. I am very capable of formulating my own opinions, and I don’t need another writer to make those opinions for me. To be honest I could spin the news from the big three in any direction. I could write three different articles explaining how Microsoft, Nintendo, or Sony won the week. I could then write three more articles about each one of the big three fell flat on their face. Also, anyone who thinks that Modern Warfare 3 is more impressive than Battlefield 3 (I’m looking at you CNN) should not be allowed in the show again.

Justin G (GiffTor)

This is my “first” E3 in trying to cover/watch it in this much detail and I’ve realized that next year, I may just be taking a couple of days’ “vacation” to observe it a little more closely. I’m slightly more old-school when it comes to digesting information; live-blogging and tweeting is more distracting and scattered than I care for and it was overwhelming for me. I don’t think that I could take in all of the info if I wasn’t at work but trying to keep my finger on the pulse of things while being at the office and, you know, doing my job, felt kind of like that time I communed with that artifact on Eden Prime. There’s just SO much going on and so many reactions coming from so many directions it’s hard to track. Still, I have to give a huge thumbs up to Gerstmann and the rest of the GiantBomb staff for giving me the two most helpful things in following this E3: actual end-of-day summary articles and actual articles about some of the things that were presented.

Don't toy with GiffTor.

I know that E3 goes in peaks and valleys – this was a peak year, wasn’t it? Anyway, now that it’s over, I’m going to have to try and deal with my E3-related existential crisis – Aliens: Colonial Marines is purported to not be vaporware. Again. If Sega keeps playing with my emotions like this, I’m going to spend the next year building a nuke-launching space ship, wait for E3, take off, and nuke the site from orbit to kill more rumors from arising. It’s the only way to be sure.

Cole (colefacekilla)

For me, the live streams are the best place to get the information and like JP said form my own opinion. While I appreciate the effort that goes into live blogging or live tweeting the event, it’s definitely overwhelming to keep up. But if you can’t be in front of a television or computer, live blogs aren’t terrible if you give them a 20 min. head start. That being said you really can’t get any information from them besides the main details which every other site is giving you anyways. I just used one to catch up to the live Nintendo presser because I was out of the house when it first started.

But I mostly took a different approach this year. I really didn’t read that many first hand impressions like I’ve done in the past. I definitely read most of the WiiU stuff that I’ve found on Joystiq and yes I went to Kotaku for Totillo’s impression. But other than that I basically stuck to gameplay footage and trailers and tried to base my opinions on the primary sources. E3 is too much to keep up with but now that the week is over and the news will go back to normal, I might go back and read stories on the games that really interested me.

Justin L

I’m ok with bias, I’m ok with opinions, as long as it is presented in that fashion. I tend to change sides every year in this industry, case and point, I got more out of Sony’s conference than the others, and it’s been a solid 90 days of us ripping on them lately it seems.

I wanted to give another shout out to Bitmob’s coverage. A very different gaming site and much more editorial (like another site I know), but again, it was easy to separate their opinions from the news and towards the end of the show (from not being at the show) I want impressions of games. I wanted reasons to dislike or get excited about games, and their hands-on previews were refreshing. I tend to get settled into the same 4 or 5 sites and it becomes predictable about what the reaction from each site will be before I read the article, with Bitmob since I don’t know the writers as well, it kept me on my toes.

On guard in case any locust show up at E3.

Also, I did have to shield myself a bit more this year than most. Just with the way we handled our own coverage of the press releases. I tried to avoid opinions about the announcements as much as possible (which was really difficult us talking Sony/EA/Ubi later in the week). So we’ll have to figure out a different tactic last week, as I’d like to present our honest in the moment reactions a bit more timely.

Ethan (Wizardtrain187)

I think I may have been one of the only members of the Horrible Night crew to use Horrible Night for all my E3 coverage. To be quite honest, I scanned the news every once in a while, but sites were overloaded with information and I got bored afterwhile. I made sure to read about the big anouncements, but there weren’t too many huge ones and of those very few interested me. To be frank, I hate learning about games I want to far in advance because I have little patience and anticipation kills me. There really wasn’t a press conference that grabbed my attention, I took the shot gun shell approach to the whole week and pieced together fragmented bits in order to have some grasp on what was going on.

Justin L

I kinda thought we were onto something with our E3 archive page, just separate out the news from the previews from the trailers.

Andrew (Coopopolopolis)

We are all looking forward to this... in 2012.

I do my best to try to not absorb everything from E3. There’s just way too much content. I watched the live press conferences for Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo just to see if anyone was going to throw any hardware surprises at us. I can’t say I was disappointed because I pretty much new what to expect already in that department. I can’t say I was blown away by anything either. Call me old school, but I’m just not into all the gimmicks everyone is focusing on this year. I don’t care if my games support Kinect, I’m not buying a 3D TV, and I still need to be convinced why I need a 3rd gaming system that I’ll probably only buy Mario and Metroid games for. As far as all of the rest of my content, I just skimmed through Twitter to see what game releases I didn’t know about yet. I’m also with Ethan where I really don’t want to see a bunch of game trailers for games I won’t see for 2 years. Bioshock Infinite started that one with me last August and I’m still mad I have to wait until next year to play it.

Ethan

I think it’s strange to look at E3 from a journalism perspective as opposed to for merely enjoyments sake. I realize that my previous statement applies to my personal viewpoint as a gamer, but when it comes to covering the news it takes a more open ear and open mind. I did realize that I needed to focus on all platforms, which was interesting and difficult at the same time. Sifting through the junk was really tough and made me realize that E3 has lost touch a bit with whatever audience it thinks it has.

Justin L

That begs the question, who is the audience for E3 that cares about every part of E3? It just seems to be getting segmented further and further and looking at a statement like Coop’s, I think he represents a lot more of a majority of consumers than they want to realize.

What about an Indie game press conference?

Andrew

I think E3 would be way more exciting if the developers and publishers didn’t tease the hell out of their games all year round. People would be glued to the live streams just to catch a glimpse of which of their favorite franchises would make a new appearance in the next year or so. However, to play the devil’s advocate of my own statement, that could also have a negative affect like the Apple press conferences, which in my opinion, seem to have the issue lately where the rumors start to exceed what the company can actually deliver. I’d hate to see for developers to hold back all of their secrets for E3 only to have the community get frustrated when they don’t release exactly what they wanted them to.

I do feel this year is an interesting transition year though. Everyone is focused on trying to evolve the gaming experience whether it be with 3D, motion controls, or weird non standard controllers. Again, I may be speaking for myself, but so far I’m not sold on a new control method for video games.  How many years have we just sat on our asses and held a controller in our hands and been completely satisfied? Did I miss the memo where we, as a community, said “Hey! I want to wave my arms around and get tired and sweaty while I play a game.” And how is Swanson going to sit at our houses and watch us play our new PS3 games in 3D when we only have 1 pair of glasses? Sure most of us own a Kinect, Wii, or even both, but I’d like to see the percentage of games we play using those consoles/accessories versus just a standard controller experience. I hope some of these newer franchises that we already are involved are keeping stats of users who play their games with the added Kinect/Move functionality.

Now all bitching aside there were still some great game announcements made that have me really excited about what’s coming out. I guess I’m just on the fence to see where this whole new control push is going to take us. It either needs to blow me away so there’s no question that I’m going to want to jump on board, or make sure that it doesn’t take away from my classic game just because you ate up 6 months of your development timeline because someone convinced you with some green that you need to come up with some way to enhance your game with Move.

Trying to sell Disneyland to core gamers? Good luck.

Justin G

Coop and I are on the same page on this one as far as our reactions to the “transition year” developments: the Kinect is fine, but there’s a reason that remote controls (for TVs, stereos, etc.) haven’t changed much since their inception: they work just fine. I don’t care about voice search functionality and…well, Coop hit it right on the head. Just like with 3D, it’s like the industry is trying to convince us that we want these things rather than paying attention to what the consumers want. I like sitting on my couch, not moving and relaxing while I play games. I don’t feel like the experience is missing something, I just want great gaming experiences. Simultaneously, 3D is a gimmick. I referenced Bob Lutz, former GM chairman, in an article and I think it’s relevant here; if you’ve got designers creating products because they think it’s the way to go rather than reacting to what their consumers want, you’re justasking for someone to come ’round and give consumer what they do want. So: E3 was exciting to me because of the new games coming out; the new, new, new XBL dashboard interface got my attention, too. The new peripherals/focus on Kinect/Move, 3D…not so much.

Cole

I think developers would love to keep their games under wraps as much as they can but have to tease things out because “corporate” things like the bottom line get in the way of pure gaming excitement. We will never live in a world where game informer doesn’t get an exclusive reveal cover because publishers think those things sell copies. And they just might.  I would love for there to be an e3 where everything is a surprise but again pleasing the corporate parent would never allow that to happen. I don’t think we will ever be 100% satisfied no matter what happens because we aren’t going to be interested in every game that is announced. I think we just have to lower expectations and get excited about the games we are interested in and know the others are a necessary evil of the game industry.

Justin G

Motion control does not equal “necessary evil.”

Cole

To an industry that wants to get new players interested in their product and make the most money they can, it is.

Justin G

Hey! That’s not fair. No using logic, Mr. Monroe.

Josh

Do you guys think that the target consumer for all the motion/casual products was reached by the press coverage?  Did this new “wider” audience see E3 news on TV or read about it in newspapers?  I don’t have a sense for it, as I don’t follow the normal news outlets.

Interested but hesitant.

Justin L

I think that’s my biggest struggle is understanding who the audience is for E3. The only things I see eek out are major announcements like the Wii U, and whatever recognizable named game trailer (MW3). It doesn’t seem like an investor event, and in this industry (we are evidence) the line between press and fans is so blurry. Then you have the “average gamer” and who knows who the hell that is anymore, and I don’t think they care about the event. They just want to know when their game is coming out next. I’m glad it exists, but I don’t know who it is really for which is why it gets noisier each year.

JP

Ok, so I have a few points to address. First I have to agree with Ethan’s comments on journalistic integrity. I am having the hardest time trying to determine who ‘won’ E3. I have been coming to the conclusion that the three major hardware suppliers each produce a different machine. It just so happens that even though you can play (mostly) the same games across all the platforms. At the same time, each platform is extremely unique from the other. So I guess the next logical step would be to interpret if each company pleased their base audience and conjured some interest in their console as well from a new customer. I would also analyze whether or not Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony stayed true to their brand with their announcements.

Secondly, in regards to reaching a wider audience or customer base. If you looked at any of the non gamer news outlets, you would know that their coverage was terrible. It seemed as if the normal media just sent one of their most junior people to the event. I think that Triumph the Insult Comic Dog could have given us better coverage than the normal news outlets. Anyways, back to my point. I know that this E3 was very motion-centirc, but that customer base for the most part doesn’t care about E3. I personally think that the motion customer is an impulse buyer and will have no clue that Dance Central 2 is being released until they see it in the Target circular that week. To be honest the fact that Mass Effect 3 is compatible with Kinect will not make much of a difference in sales.

Less than a year away!

I can actually pin point the moment of this event that showed exactly what the casual or motion gamer looks like. Kobe Bryant at the Sony press conference was beyond awkward. His appearance was sold as “NBA2K12 is so easy with Move that anyone can pick it up and play.” Of course, Kobe comes out on stage and plays the game cold (which surprised the hell out of me). He was awful at it, and was having fun by laughing at himself. I think it just shows who the target audience is with those devices. I am sure Kobe plays a lot of games (Black Ops commercial), but he doesn’t use motion controls. So long story short, I don’t think that E3 is the way to reach your target motion audience. They don’t care and most likely can’t tell you what E3 is. Unless of course their spouse or significant other writes for a video game website.

Conclusion

While we might have mixed opinions on the purpose of E3, we all agree that there are some things that we simply just aren’t interested in. Some of our favorite websites helped us keep up with everything that was going on and again we were disappointed by the ones who regurgitated information to quickly to be any use. We aren’t sure what exactly is the best way to cover the huge event, but when we go next year we’ll have it figured out by then.

Source:

Giant Bomb (images)