E3 Retro / Indie Report #2
What can I say? So far, E3 2009 has been a little underwhelming. Most
of the big companies are here except Atari (other than the Ghost
Busters car and some people dressed up in Ghost Busters costumes), but
the web / indie / and Flash gaming community is very under represented.
Electrotank is here, as are a couple manufacturers of
hand-held devices that can play Flash games, but we were expecting much
much more. One interesting turn of events is the almost
complete absence of Windows and PC games. The Microsoft name is no
where to be found and it looks like Vista has killed off most of the
enthusiasm for PC titles. No wonder Games For Windows magazine died a
slow and painful death.
Contrary to anything you hear or see on G4, this E3 is not BIGGER and
LOUDER than ever. It's actually smaller an quieter than ever. The usual
size (4 large halls and 2 smaller venues) has have been compacted into
2 mostly filled large halls. There are a lot of people here, but not
quite as many as in 2006 (the last time an E3 was held). The
big guys all have some nice booths, but NOTHING like they used to have.
The gross spectacle of years past has given away to moderately sized
booths and in some cases media only presentations.
Booth girls (babes) are present, but in most cases they are dressed
much more respectably and can actually answer questions about the games
themselves (not just about their "modeling" resumes). This is actually
welcome, because in years past, strippers and "models" in some booths
out numbered the games in many cases. Also, where there was once a
stage set up in seemingly every corner for a live action wrestling
match cum costumed battle royale / strip show, or the "next" big
alternative band to play, the few remaining stages now present
things like Lego Rock-Band tourneys and other live action game
competitions. There is one DJ scratching and spinning some discs, but
he included 8-bit Nintendo NES sounds, so at least it was gaming
relevant. All this has provided more focus on the games
themselves, which is great.
We had figured that the increase in sales from downloadable content and
the rise of indie web gaming would have some impression on this show,
but we were wrong. There were a few monitors in the big guys booths
showing Wiiware or Xbox Live titles, but they were few and far
between. There we a few indie MMO worlds, but mostly the big
boys were concerned with multiplayer shooters and RPGs rather
than anything new or really relevant to the indie / web and Flash
On the Retro front, we did find a few new titles that interest us,
especially the new Super Mario Wii and the latest pinball collections.
There was not as much as we expected, but then again there never has
been much of that content in the show proper. The Retro History Museum
was not present at this show, so some of the normal attendees that might
"coat-tail" along with them were absent too. As were any real
mention of games for hand-held phones and virtually no iPhone games to
speak of. Apple was no where to be found, so no mention of the
proliferation of cool retro titles on that platform.
The improvements to Xbox live look very very nice (Full Sky TV in the
UK) along with the ability to share Sky movies (TV and sports also),
and Nextflix (in the USA) with friends. So , you all can sit
and watch the same movie from remote locations., making comments to
each other. This looked especially fun for fans of competing footie
clubs during matches. They also have Facebook and Twitter integration.
Interestingly, the Microsoft name was completely absent from the show
and especially the Xbox brand. It was as if the white and green logo
and brand belonged to some independent company rather than the
largest behemoth on the block.
Anyway, it has been a long day, but the great thing about having a
media pass is the ability to download press kits for all of the major
(and some minor) studios. Steve and I will have a nice
rundown including (high quality) media for all of the games we
feel have a relevance to the site. Check back over the next few days
for some pretty cool stuff (as much as we can dig and find).