E3 2011 Conference grades

E3 2011 Conference grades

Written by Jeremy Duff on 6/22/2011 for 360   3DS   PS3   PSP   Vita   Wii   WiiU  
More On: E3 2011
E3 may have been a couple of weeks back but that doesn’t mean that the events and offerings shown at the event aren’t still on everyone’s mind(s). This year’s show was interesting in a variety of ways but perhaps the one reason that sticks out the most in my mind is the apparent lack of a clear "winner” of the show. Most years, the gaming world is pretty quick to crown one of the big three companies, Microsoft, Nintendo, or Sony, as the overall winner of the show... but that hasn’t really happened this year.

The competition between the three at the show this year was pretty intense. Asking three different people their thoughts on who won will likely lead you to three different answers. I decided to poll the Gaming Nexus staff on their thoughts regarding each company’s press conference / showing and to grade each one individually as well as tell us who they thought “won” E3 (of any company).

Here is what our crew thought:

Matt Mirkovich: Of the big three, Microsoft had the most to prove. With Nintendo showing off the Wii U and Sony displaying the PS Vita, Microsoft had to come out swinging with the best games on the market. For the most part they succeeded, even if everything shown during their conference was derivative of past titles. Still, showing off stuff like CoDMW3, Tomb Raider, Gears 3, and Halo CE Anniversary goes a long way in cementing yourself behind a solid wall of titles. With a decent amount of them slated for this year and the rest coming shortly after, it was a good all around showing for them, even with a few games that didn't seem to catch like the new Fable title. Then they decided to trot out the little ones to show off Kinect titles. What kids these days are saying 'fist bump!'? Also, I'm not buying the "Gunsmith" feature for the new Ghost Recon game, seriously that stuff looks so tacked on that it's kind of sad. It looks like they've got me on the Kinect train with Child of Eden coming out real soon but beyond that, I don't see much use for a Kinect myself. As much as I love dance games, Dance Central isn't going to get me off my couch.

Sean Nack: Five words, Microsoft: SHUT UP ABOUT THE KINECT. Look, I get it, you want some of that sweet, sweet Wii casual-gamer market, but look how fast those casual gamers are abandoning the Wii U, and the more you jibber-jabber on, the closer you get to your own "Vitality Sensor" moment. Stop now before you alienate your core market.

Tina Amini: Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I missed about half of this conference while running over to EA's, but viewing it later I couldn't help but notice how flat out awkward the presentation became. Even bringing out children to give us a gameplay demonstration of Kinect Disneyland Adventures was horribly awkward instead of cute, as I am sure it was meant to be. A few games and announcements will keep my attention on Microsoft, like Tomb Raider or the HD remake of Halo, but what the conference boiled down to was a blatant and forceful push of the Kinect, of which the Mass Effect 3 Kinect capabilities were the only somewhat intriguing utilization of it.

Jeremy Duff: Microsoft had a solid showing this year but I cannot help but be put off by the constant push of Kinect and motion gaming. Sure, there is a place for the movement in the gaming world but it doesn’t have to be force-fed to gamers and injected into every single game produced. The conference was nothing but Kinect, Kinect, more Kinect, and a Halo 4 teaser. Where were the core / non-Kinect games when it came to their conference? Solid showing but I really expected (and wanted) more.

Charles Husemann: Microsoft finally got around to showing how Kinect would work for core games and it was yelling at the TV. I have to be honest I was hoping for more out of Kinect for the core crowd and was a bit disappointed by not seeing anything that really blew me away (the head tracking in Forza 4 is pretty sweet though). I was hoping we'd see more. It's never a good sign when your coolest announcements are released in a letter (cloud storage/beacon) after the press conference.

Halo HD, and Gears 3 looked great but it still feels like there's a bit hole in Microsoft's holiday lineup as we didn't get the rumored new Alan Wake game or any other big announcement. John thinks MS is counting on Modern Warfare 3 to sell Xbox 360's but having only two first party titles for the fall (with one of them being a remake) feels a bit odd. Did hear some speculation that MS is pulling resources back to work on first party titles for their next generation console which makes sense. Dance Central 2 and the other Kinect games do look good but if you're a core gamer you have to be scratching your head a bit as to what MS has for you this year.

John Yan: The Kinect demos were bad and/or embarrassing. I wasn't interested in any of them and the Kinect Star Wars was one big turn off. I don't like the idea of them pushing Kinect on all titles whether they need it or not. Just let developers use it if they want to. I'm not a big Halo fan, so the Halo news was lost on me. It's too bad the Halo 4 announcement was leaked. I guess you need to finish the fight... again.

Nathaniel Cohen: Sure, more Halo is great, and lots of games in their pipeline (like GoW3) look great, but the grandmas and school children Kinect is aimed at don't give a flying **** about E3. Core gamers do (and shareholders too, I guess). Since it's core gamers that go to and/or cover E3 why do they keep insisting on putting on a show that seems designed to piss off those that are there?

Tina Amini: Nintendo did what they do best and hit us hard with nostalgia. While you were cooing over Star Fox and (for some) Luigi's Mansion 2, you might not have noticed that no new Wii titles were revealed. The focus was predominantly on the 3DS and the terribly named Wii U (I'm sticking with Cafe for as long as people will remember it).

Charles Husemann: Nintendo put on a pretty good show for their core group of people but really didn't do a good job of explaining what Wii U was and what it could do. Using footage from other consoles to simulate your new console is not a good way to introduce your console and the last bit of footage they showed from the unit reminded me a bit too much of the Motorstorm and Killzone 2 target footage Sony showed off in 2005.

Matt Mirkovich
: This was an utterly infuriating conference for me to watch. But let's talk about the good stuff first: the Zelda concert series. That's some great news for a 25 year anniversary, but no new game aside from Skyward Sword? No big surprise on that front? Free Zelda games are nice and all, but it's not the big bombshell I was hoping they would have. Then there was the revival phase of the Nintendo conference, where they bring out the same old franchises, and say 'Hey we're still cool, we're still relevant!" I appreciate Nintendo sticking to their roots, but after a while they've got to break free. It looks like they really tried to do it with the Wii U, showing off some great games destined for the 360/PS3 and it's great to see them working with 3rd party developers more frequently. A new Smash Brothers game was expected for the new console, which isn't my cup of tea but I'm sure fans are excited. But then what happened to the Wii and DS? Any more games for either system? No Last Story? No Pandora's Tower? No Xenoblade? This stuff Nintendo, this infuriates me as a gamer. I want to play these games and your reluctance to bring them stateside shows me that you don't want me as a consumer for your home consoles any more. I seriously have nothing to buy for your console until Skyward Sword comes out. On the whole I am disappointed with their showing.

Nathaniel Cohen: iPad controller? Also, the Wii U only comes with one. I feel like their just inventing new "innovations" out of some Mad-Lib style fill in the blank system. "Our new console is called <blank> (old console name + random letter) and it uses <blank> (some other company's innovative product) as a controller. Imagine if other companies did that: We all be playing the Xbox Q with a smart phone controller or the Playstation Z with a Slap Chop controller.

Jeremy Duff: I just don’t understand what Nintendo is doing now days and this is coming from someone who has been a big supporter of them over the years (including a strong supporter of the Wii movement early on). During their conference, Nintendo asked us to get behind four systems from them (Wii, Wii U, DS, 3DS) yet they only showed off games for the Nintendo 3DS. Then there was the whole Wii U presentation which, while cool, was nothing more than an early proof of concept and promises for the future. What did they give me to be excited for this year except for some new 3DS games which were updates to old franchises? Very disappointing to say the least.

John Yan: I'll admit, I enjoyed the orchestra, but then it went downhill from there. The Wii U announcement just didn't resonate with me. I found it funny that all the people around me going on about how great the third party games looked on the system were really praising the graphics of the 360 or PS3 that was used since there weren't any third party games being shown on the system. The controller is big and bulky but I can see some potential in it. None, I mean, none of the first party titles announced excited me. Maybe I've outgrown Nintendo or maybe they've just burned me too much.

Sean Nack: Can you give another grade to a company who uses another company's hardware as a tech demo? Frankly, no you can't, and still call yourself objective or even reasonable. They announced all of one new major game, a highly questionable new console that will launch next year with a slew of what will be year-old games that are only marginally different than their console counterparts. Even IF ( <-- see how that's a big if?) I was interested in purchasing the system, would I as the average gamer still be interested in playing one of those titles just because there's a second screen? Now, is the Wii U innovative? Definitely, but Nintendo is on the verge of innovating themselves right out of a job.

Tina Amini: For all the viewers who weren't able to devour the ridiculous selection of food truck goodies before/after the conference, Sony's press conference was actually the most well done with the best announcements. Save for a few meme-worthy instances and a really tactless way of "apologizing" for the hacking debacle (namely, telling the press "you're welcome" for giving us news), Sony's presentation consisted of a slew of games, services and hardware that piqued many gamers' interests. Probably one of the more interesting decisions was to price the NGP - now known as Vita - at $249, and effectively knocking Nintendo over on the head by matching the price of their 3DS.

Jeremy Duff: I am sure that I am getting pretty close to garnering the label of a Sony fanboy but I absolutely loved Sony’s showing at their conference this year. Why? Simple... it was realistic and everything that they showed off was “within reach” (coming out this year). They had a good variety of games and their reveals for the PlayStation Vita were better than everyone had hoped for: great lineup, excellent pricing, and a solid release window and lineup. Sony has made a habit of making their conferences mean something to gamers by showcasing the stuff that is readily (or soon to be) available to the public, which means a lot to me.

Charles Husemann
: Sony needed to have a good E3 press conference and for the most part they did. The way they handled the apologies to developers, retailers, and consumers was perfect. They then moved on to unveil a solid lineup for the rest of the year as well as a great price for the Vita. Nice job indeed.

Matt Mirkovich: Sony made right by me by coming right out and acknowledging the security breach. They also didn't have a half bad showing of games. The reveal of a new Sly Cooper and news of the Ico/Shadow of the Colossus HD pack coming in September shows they understand where their core audience is, though I am kind of disappointed they didn't have any info on That Game Company's new game, Journey. Showing off Dust 514 as a PS3 exclusive made me wonder how much I'd want to play a persistent shooter on a home console, so we'll see where that one is in a few months. Overall though, Sony wowed me with the reveal of the PS Vita price point. It has pretty much prevented me from buying a 3DS for the next six months, and the inclusion of a Vanillaware title on the console just made me all the more excited. The decision to continue to push 3D in gaming was not surprising, but the televisions they had on display for consumers really wowed me. Eliminating split screen from multiplayer games? I'm almost sold on one of those TVs now.

John Yan: There wasn't anything there that really wowed me either. The Vita is a nice little machine and the price is good, but having AT&T as the sole provider for 3G is a bad, bad idea. It was a steady stream of OK announcements that didn't have me thinking of anything memorable after a day of viewing it.

Nathaniel Cohen: Handheld systems are for kids. I'm not a kid. As an adult gamer, Sony still hasn't offered anything that makes me feel like I need to get a PS3.


Sean Nack: No grade. I only caught the first 45 minutes to an hour of it before I had to get on my flight to Los Angeles, so I'm not comfortable giving it an overall grade, out of a sense of journalistic fairness. But between you and I? I don't remember anything about the Sony press conference, and that might be worse than spectacularly failing.

Who comes out of E3 2011 the true “winner”?

Tina Amini: I think Sony takes the cake this year, even with the highly anticipated reveal of Project Cafe by Nintendo. They showed the most intriguing games and hardware with the least amount of halfhearted enthusiasm that the Microsoft conference was composed of.

Nathaniel Cohen: Core Gamers. Sure, there wasn't much in the way of innovation or Earth-shattering reveals, but the stable of core games shown made me very excited (and made my wallet weep) for the upcoming year or so.

Jeremy Duff: Sony took this year’s show by a mile, though I feel that Microsoft’s post-conference showing really helped them immensely. Microsoft had some great things to show on the floor that I really wish were pushed more in their conference that didn’t focus on Kinect, but that didn’t happen. Sony on the other hand, showed me a stellar lineup of products that I cannot help but want. Mark me down for one of pretty much everything they showed, especially a Vita.

Charles Husemann: Of the three Sony was the best which is good because it needed to be. Sony delivered to every audience and delivered a clear and focused message. It would have been nice to see more of what's coming next year but you can only cram so much into 90 minutes.

Matt Mirkovich: Sony brought the most original titles while at the same time appealing to the core gamers of yesteryear. The price point of the PS Vita makes it an attractive handheld considering how powerful it is, and the best part, they have software ready to show on the console as opposed to borrowing from other consoles just to show what games you expect to have. Now let's just see if they can live up to their target renders. Also: RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIDGE RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACER!

Sean Nack: EA's entire line-up looked fantastic across several genres, while Activision and 2k each had one major tentpole (MW3 and Bioshock, respectively) surrounded by a bunch of smaller titles (Spyro? Really, Activision?), while Square Enix landed in a healthy second place with fantastic-looking Hitman: Absolution, Deus Ex, Dead Island, and Tomb Raider, but the bizarre and unimpressive FFXIII-2. At such a mediocre E3 for the consoles, it was really the developer's show.

John Yan: The number 3...as in the third in the series. What do I mean by that? BioShock Infinite (3rd game in the BioShock universe), Mass Effect 3, and Battlefield 3. All three of these looked amazing. Hell, even Saints Row the Third looked fun.

Now you now how we feel about this year’s conference, what about you? Let us know your opinion(s) on the various showings at the 2011 conference in the comment section below.
E3 2011 Conference grades E3 2011 Conference grades E3 2011 Conference grades E3 2011 Conference grades E3 2011 Conference grades E3 2011 Conference grades E3 2011 Conference grades E3 2011 Conference grades E3 2011 Conference grades E3 2011 Conference grades E3 2011 Conference grades E3 2011 Conference grades

About Author

Guess who's back!!! If you have been here before, you know the basics: lifelong gamer, father, and of course, former certified news monkey. I still consider myself all of those things, just maybe not in the grand scale that I once did. I’ve been blogging on the industry for more than decade now, in some form or another. It wasn't until I landed here at Gaming Nexus that I really dove in head first. Now, writing about games has become what I do for fun (and sometimes work) and something I intend on doing until the day I die (in some form or another).

I'm a huge fan of just about everything you can interact with using a controller, no matter how old or new, good or bad. If you put it in front of me, I will play it (at least once).

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