E3 2011 - An E3 Do-over
The dust has settled on E3 2011. We may now look back at a show full of excitement - one that showcased an expanding industry in its element, more confident than ever of its place in popular culture. But not everyone came away from LA best pleased. Peter Molyneux, excitable developer and head of Lionhead studios, has been losing sleep because of a misleading demo for his studio’s latest game, Fable: The Journey, shown during the Microsoft press conference.
The short demo for the Kinect-enabled entry in the popular Fable series has been labelled a "horrendous mistake" by Molyneux, who feels it was misleading and unrepresentative of the full game. He’s concerned that the demo gave the impression that The Journey is an on-rails shooter, as it didn’t show the ability to navigate, and has since been eager to point out to the press that it is anything but. The stage show was not particularly well received, as many felt that it was an on-rail spin-off, which relied too heavily on simple Kinect controls.
Peter Molyneux is not the only one who wishes they could take a mulligan on some of the events of last week. Aside from Fable: The Journey, there was another cock-up at the Microsoft press conference which put a dampener on what should have been a huge finale. Just hours before the main event, word leaked that Halo 4 would be Microsoft's big announcement. They have no one to blame but themselves, as their website featured a broken link on its news page that read "Return to the Halo Universe; Halo 4 is on the way." which was taken down moments later, but not before keen readers jumped on the untimely gaffe and shouted it from the mountain tops. Clearly someone at MS was just too excited by the prospect of a return to Halo and their premature posting scuppered the only real surprise that their underwhelming presser could offer. Bill Gates and Master Chief were not best pleased.
Microsoft was certainly not alone in making mistakes during their presser. Nintendo confused everyone, including themselves, by the way they unveiled the Wii U, as they failed to show the actual console and offered virtually no game footage. The games that they did show turned out to be the PS3 and 360 versions, something which they failed to point out at the time. Maybe it would have been a good idea to show the console that you are unveiling, as well as some games actually running on it, but then what would I know.
I’m sure Sony would love the chance to go back and tinker with their presser. It lacked foresight by leading with Uncharted 3 - media darling, PS poster boy and source of envy for 360 and Wii exclusive gamers – which made everything after it look 20% shitter. But the part which must’ve really made the Sony big-wigs squirm was the reaction to the announcement that the notoriously shoddy AT&T would be the exclusive 3G provider for the PS VITA in the US.
Kaz looked terribly lonely
Kaz Hirai, who had clearly drawn the short straw, grimaced through a cacophony of jeers as the mere mention of AT&T went down like a fart in church. I’m told that AT&T is not the most reliable of providers – they don’t operate here the UK, as far as I know – and I’m sure that with the benefit of hindsight Sony would have released news of their partnership afterwards rather than put a downer on an otherwise well received show. However, without a giant Enemy Crab and a distinct lack of Riiiiidge Racer moments, the presser was probably better off with the inclusion of AT&T, if not just for comic relief.
Staying with Sony and Nintendo, I would love to give them a second shot at naming their new consoles/portables. It’s really not difficult to think of names better suited to Sony’s next generation portable than VITA. Wouldn’t the unimaginative PSP2 have been a better idea, or they could’ve even retained the project moniker, NGP, which had started to gather its own momentum. And what the fuck is Wii U? I fully understand wanting to retain the Wii branding, but Wii U is just daft, sounding more like a rather diluted profanity than a must-have bit of hardware.
Moving away from the big three, it sounds like Square-Enix’s journey back to Tokyo may not have been the most jubilant of flights, being that they were far from content with their lacklustre showing at E3. Senior executive Koji Taguchi didn’t hold back when he lamented that the Japanese side of his business drastically under-achieved, as he tweeted - "Because we merged with Eidos and had games like Tomb Raider, Deus and Hitman, as a company we were able to keep face, but the decline in Japanese titles was almost humiliating. This has been a week where I worried daily about how we can fix this." My suggestion would be stop pissing about with Final Fantasy XIII and its seemingly endless spin-offs. Oh, and make a new Vagrant Story.
E3 was a relative triumph, though as you can see, it had its fair share of follies. Unfortunately, I haven’t got the time to cover the travesty that was Aaron Priceman presenting the Ubisoft showcase, but I strongly suggest checking it out HERE so that you may witness one of the most painful stage performances in E3 history. I hope Peter Molyneux can find time to watch it, as I can guarantee that it will make him feel much better about Fable’s showing.