E3 2012 thoughts

I spent a week in Los Angeles for E3. This was the first E3 where I didnt have an absolutely insane schedule and worked as a fulltime journalist. I did bit of work for my ex-magazine Pelaaja, but mostly networked and met Umbra-related clients and contacts just to make sure things are going the right direction.

I said earlier in the year that E3 2012 should be great,  but I was wrong. It will be E3 2013 that potentially will be great, if companies will dare to hold back some news and show off new hardware without talking about it to everyone before hand.

Microsoft didn’t surprise me, but then again I know a whole lot more about their future than most and I cant say anything more than that. They were all about the services and if you are an US-based Xbox 360 owner, all the ESPN/NBA etc apps I’m sure will make you happy. We get none of those in Europe.

I think Microsoft had sort of the same problem as Nintendo in terms of core gamers – you only have to show us one or two new games at the end of the press event to convince us and keep us happy. Both failed to do that. That’s not to say Microsoft didnt have a good line-up, they do, at least 3rd party-wise, but in terms of internal development, outside of Halo 4 and yet another Forza (which actually is not being developed by Turn-10), it’s all about working on future games.

I’ve been worried about Sony for a while. I cant believe they said that Sony’s PR has said that the Sony press conference is too long or that’s the view of the visiting crowd. It’s not been too long if the game’s and news presented have been interesting. I sat through PlayStation press conferences in the late 1990’s where they showed fucking Powerpoint sales charts. At least we got rid of those! Now those were long and boring.

So now, Sony basically left out the Vita and while we did get Beyond, The Last of Us and God of War: Ascension and some PlayStation Network goodness, we all tend to concentrate on the negatives: way too long Book of Spells demo that didnt even work right, which just showcases how the PlayStation Move and Eye dont work 100% accurately most of the time. I think Sony London has lacked innovation for years after killing it with SingStar and Buzz etc. Now, they sort of hang on to that and think they are doing great things, but everything looks too safe, too researched and just…not enough conviction. Book of Spells is interesting and something sort of new, I dig that for sure, but this was the wrong place to spend so much time to demoing something the majority of the audience do not want.

Still, Sony does have a good lineup both for the PlayStation 3 and the Vita, but really, the only two games that sort of brought that triple-A, gotta get a PlayStation 3 -vibe where Beyond and The Last of Us.  God of War: Ascension as well, but that’s a franchise that’s huge in the US and far less successful in Europe.

A simple problem Sony has, is that it almost has too many internal studios, but only one or two deliver real, true triple-A quality that defines the PlayStation platforms. The real issue is that the marketing money is spread to too thin – excellent games like Starhawk get very little support, but I dont think Uncharted 3 or that whole franchise has gotten the kind of marketing and PR it should have gotten.

Look at what Microsoft does with Halo and Gears of War – those games are everywhere, they are powerfully and smartly marketed at huge expense. Both franchises sell like gangbusters. Uncharted does not do those kind of numbers nor have that kind of impact and it really should. Uncharted should be marketed in the same fashion as Rockstar markets it’s games, but of course R* releases one game a year, and Sony releases dozens. They are spread too thin.

What else? Ah, it seems the new trend is third person action games instead of FPS. You had The Last of Us, Star Wars, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Tomb Raider. Watchdogs. Star Wars felt really like Uncharted. Tomb Raider looks awesome, but what the fuck is Lara doing shooting folks in the face with a shotgun and we get to see that in closeups?!? Sure, in the actual game, they spend time setting up the fact that Lara feels horrible about shooting people when it all begins, but still….why did Crystal Dynamics have to have such graphic “finishing” kills. Completely unecessary.

All this complaining, but we gotta keep it real and realize there’s so many awesome games coming. Assassins Creed III looks really good, clearly technically better than the previous games and the setting looks great. Not sure about the lead character yet, but I like that he’s a risky move just as Ezio was. One of the coolest things that happened to me during my time in LA was that I met one of the lead writers of the entire Assassins Creed franchise, Corey May, at the Harmonix party!

PlanetSide 2 & Mass Effect 3 Wii U

Special shoutout to these games as they both use Umbra technology. PlanetSide 2 was pretty damn epic in scale and shows what you can do with a relatively strong PC these days. Really massive enviroments with thousands of players. Definitely a lot more impressive than the sort of similair Dust 514.

Also, Mass Effect 3 for the Wii U was unveiled and as BioWare has used Umbra’s tech in Mass Effect 2-3, it shall also use it in Mass Effect 3’s Wii U version. Great for us!

Come E3 2013, fingers crossed, you are gonna see a handful of games you dont know even exist yet that are powered by Umbra’s technology…just wait!

Downtown LA

I’ve been there when the LA Lakers have lost and won and it’s been pretty crazy. Now LA Kings were playing the final and there were tons of Kings fans in downtown.

My E3 schedule

So I got in on Friday June 1st really late and I was sick. I spent Saturday recuperating and we went to Santa Monica, then to see Prometheus, but I had booked tickes for the 9th of June and not the 2nd…..which I only found out as we went to the theatre. Epic fail. So we saw Men in Black 3 instead which sucked.

We ate at STK on La Cienega. I’ve been lucky enough to eat at many great restaraunts, but STK serves up the best steak, no question. Morton’s Steakhouse, Envy in Las Vegas etc have got nothing on STK. On Sunday, we ate with a client at the classic Tower Bar on Sunset Strip at the Sunset Tower hotel, which is a real old school place. The restaurant has that classic 50’s (I guess) Hollywood vibe and I saw Chris Hemsworth there with his family I guess. The food was really, really good and the service was impeccable. The view overlooks Los Angeles and is very beautiful. I really recommend this place if you have the chance of going.

No E3 or LA visit is complete without a weekend in…

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