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Why E3 Is Terrible For Video Games: Overpromises, Promises

Posted on Monday, May 13 @ 19:38:26 Eastern by
In this (brief) series of articles leading up to gaming's Electronic Entertainment Expo, we'll look at why E3 is bad and why you should feel bad. Outside of the insane marketing budgets and globe-spanning levels of hype, what does E3 really do for the video game industry?


I realize that lambasting E3 might make me unpopular among core gamers everywhere. With such a future-facing medium, fans can't help but get excited for the next big thing, even if that's another shooter or an overpriced and ultimately faulty piece of next-generation hardware. It's in our blood to want what's next and gaming's biggest trade show will inject excitement straight into your veins if you'd let it.

That becomes a problem when multi-million dollar corporations take their message to the public and, through the use of deft and finely-prepared marketing double-speak, proceed to waaaaay over-promise. I've watched press conferences for years and without fail some executive lights up the crowd with incredibly evocative words like "redefine" as in "Daikatana will redefine the shooter genre". It's gotten to the point where a Mad Lib could capture the essence of any E3 presentation with just a few words:

_______ (thing you can buy) will revolutionize the way you _______ (something you've already done in a game).

Even hands-off demonstrations of hotly anticipated titles from trusted developers aim to mislead the consumer into spending their money before a product is even ready for him or her to... well, consume. Look no further than Gearbox's early Aliens: Colonial Marines demo for proof of this.


Absolutely nothing at E3 can be completely trusted until you've played it yourself. As critics, we can do our best to approximate the experience of the next Call of Duty or a next-generation launch game, but reading words is as interactive as watching paint dry. You'll never know for sure until you can get hands-on for yourself.

My ability to buy into carefully manufactured hype has slowly died over the past few years with every opportunity to attend and cover E3 directly. Sitting at home high off the start of Summer vacation, I could eat up every detail, every morsel of PR-speak and still be hungry for more, but now I live in the moment. That's my recommendation for any gamer watching at home. Take a second and think about the true purpose behind this spectacle before heading online to proclaim one company the winner and the other the loser, lest you become a loser yourself.

When Usher leaps on stage and starts singing and dancing, remember he's not at Microsoft's press conference beceause he loves video games. Usher, like any other gaming executive on-stage in front of millions of fans at home, wants your money and will do (or say) what it takes to collect a check.

Even if it means lying to you.
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Tags:   E3
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