E3 2017: The Year of the Expansion

With all the major press events over (Nintendo has some recorded thing they’ll let into the wild later this morning, but since they can’t manage to get their hardware on store shelves they’re irrelevant to me, and this post is 100% subjective personal opinion) I’m sitting her ruminating on E3 2017. I hate to admit it and give the nay-sayers lots of “I told you so” ammo, but I’m feeling a little let down.

Again, this is totally subjective. For instance Ubisoft showed Beyond Good & Evil 2 which was a huge deal for a large number of people, but I have never understood the fascination. I played part of Beyond Good & Evil but got bored/distracted and never finished, and never really cared that I didn’t finish. So BGE2 wasn’t a big deal FOR ME. If it was for you, I’m happy for you.

One issue I had was that companies had already tipped their own hands. EA showed us Star Wars Battlefront 2 but I didn’t feel like they showed us anything new about it. Ditto Bungie showing us Destiny 2 via the Sony presser, or Ubi showing us Far Cry 5. We knew about these games and didn’t really learn anything new. For me the biggest ‘surprise’ was Assassin’s Creed: Origins. I knew there was going to be an AC game this year but had no idea it’d be in ancient Egypt or that they would be changing the AC system so much.

The bigger issue is that I still don’t really know what we’ll be playing this holiday. Well I know we’ll be playing Destiny 2 and SW Battlefront 2, but again I already knew that. Assassin’s Creed Origins is this fall too, but the holiday season is feeling a little sparse. (And I do mean ‘feeling’; I haven’t sat down and made a list…I could be missing a lot of stuff.) I guess in some ways that’s good. We only have so much time to spend playing games and last year there were so many big titles that no one could buy and play them all, leading to quality games getting pushed out of our shopping carts and onto the discount rack.

What do I KNOW we’ll be playing this fall? Expansions. There’s the Uncharted 4 expansion, the Steep expansion, the Battlefield 1 expansion and the Horizon Zero Dawn expansion. Now lest you misunderstand me, this isn’t bad news and I’m super excited for more Uncharted and more Horizon Zero Dawn. My point is, all these expansions were featured in press conferences that already felt pretty short this year. The only really beefy press conference was Microsoft’s and they had to talk about hardware.

Now 2018 is already looking good. We’ll be playing Far Cry 5 and the new God Of War and I guess Bioware’s Anthem (which I’m withholding judgement on until we learn more) are all 2018. Holiday 2017 though; I’m just not that sure what to get excited about.

I’m waffling on Microsoft too. They stated that they were going to show 42 games in their press conference, 22 of which were in some way console exclusives, but y’know I can’t remember many of them. Crackdown 3 (which has taken a cel-shaded turn towards Borderlands town, much to my dismay), Forza of course. What else can I only play on Xbox One or Windows 10? I’m sure there are more but I’ve already forgotten them. So now I’m trying to decide if I REALLY want to spend $500 to play games in “true 4K” rather than 1800P on the PS4 Pro that I already own. I’m starting to think XboneX can wait for a price cut or an attractive bundle deal.

My other big disappointment with E3? YouTubers. Only we don’t call them that any more. Now they are called “Influencers” and I saw in a couple of demos when a professional journalist asked a question the game’s representative replied “We’re holding that back for YouTubers to share.” WTF? I can’t wait to see the game industry’s reliance on these childish, annoying “influencers” blow up in their faces. But I guess that’s the thing about the gaming industry: it’s determined to cling to being an industry aimed at 12 year olds. (I’m not dissing streamers in general. Some of my best friends are streamers. But the You Tubers that seem to get all the attention are the ones who are shrill, vulgar, entitled little punks. They are like the Jerry Springers of the streaming community.)

Back and crankier than ever

Going back to the office today, tissue box in one hand, fistful of various cold medications in the other. I should be pleasant to be around. 🙂 I worked from home yesterday, but aside from that I’ve spent the last 3 days pretty much laying on the couch.

Haven’t played any Warhammer (or anything else on the PC). Did play quite a bit of Fable 2, and I watched a lot of old videos I still had on the PS3, including stuff like 1Up’s E3 coverage. Wow, had I ever pushed a lot of that out of my mind. Who else remembers the “You’re in the movies” demo during the Microsoft Press conference? If you don’t, check out this video starting about 3 minutes in:

In less amusing news, a bunch of bills came in, and I felt the sting of all the splurging I did the past month or two, what with the Warhammer CE, Rock Band 2, and a new RB guitar, Hinterlands, LittleBigPlanet, and some non-gaming extravagances. The reality is that its time to tighten my belt. I cut a lot of little things like knocking my Netflix membership down a couple of notches, gonna be more careful about grocery shopping, dumping some extra cable services and the like. All these little cuts add up.

But I realized that I simply cannot justify carrying two game subscriptions at once. It’s so easy to turn these things on and off that it makes more fiscal sense to alternate months. I’ve promised Angela that I’d play EQ2 with her when the new expansion comes out, which is I believe Nov. 20th. So I’ll be suspending my Warhammer Online account after this month runs out (I think on Nov. 18th). I hate to do it since I believe in the game and I’m sort of voting against it by doing this, not to mention all the asshat smug bloggers who’re taking such joy out of finding out that supporters of the game are leaving it.

But I still have almost two weeks to enjoy Warhammer and CoW, so if you read this JoBildo, don’t make me an alumni yet!! And I’m going to look at it this way; when I go back after a month or two of EQ2, the game will be even better than it is now. So that’s something to look forward to!

Our dysfunctional gaming culture

With E3 come and gone, I’ve been thinking (again) about problems with gaming journalism, the internet, and gamers, and how these three things come together to create a toxic brew when it comes to events like E3. Just to warn you, I don’t have any answers. I’m still trying to quantify the problem of why where’s so much negativity and downright meanness surrounding gaming on the internet.

Factor 1: There are many gaming news websites out there, and they all tend to have pretty much the same news. So what differentiates site A from site B is often who gets the scoop. So there’s a tremendous pressure on the bloggers and journos of these sites to get new release info first. If the PR department of a game developer won’t come clean, maybe some of the poor schlubs in the trenches will spill something. Leaks abound. Rumors profligate. By the time the actual event comes around, there’s a cloud of mis-information and unrealistic expectations just waiting to rain on everyone’s parade.

Factor 2: The gamers don’t just want word that a game is coming out. They demand gameplay. If a game is announced but the developer has no gameplay to show, the announcement is met with derision and scorn. In the meanwhile, the rumors have come to be accepted as fact in the weeks running up to the event. When they turn out not to be true (i.e. no Kid Icarus for the Nintendo Wii at this year’s E3), the gamers get disappointed and start bad mouthing the parent company.

Factor 3: The publishers end up between a rock and a hard place. If they make an announcement with no gameplay ready, the gamers jeer at them and talk about what a terrible showing the publisher had. If they make an announcement and show gameplay that is so early that it isn’t as good as it should be, the gamers immediately write the game off as “sucking” and that word of mouth spreads like mad. If the developers make no announcement at all, the gamers (and probably the shareholders!) get pissed because there’s nothing new on the way. Gamers won’t take in on faith that there are teams working hard on games that haven’t been announced.

So E3 begins in a whirlwind of hype and ends in disgruntlement. I’m reading on various sites now about what a disappointing E3 it was. And yet I watched G4’s coverage, and I’ve been reading a bunch of blogs, and downloading lots of footage, and there are a -ton- of great games coming our way. I know I’ll certainly have to make some hard decisions on which ones I buy and which ones I’ll have to pass on due to financial considerations. I won’t be able to afford all the games I’m interested in.

Like I said, I have no answers. I just think its a shame that gamers have such high expectations that they never seem to wind up happy after an event like this.