Well, maybe the Mayans were right in predicting the end of the world in 2012. But since their primitive language had no words for “console gaming” their prophecy wasn’t as specific as it could have been. So fear not, the “world” as we know it is not doomed. The “world of gaming” is not even doomed, evidenced by the hype and growth of mobile and social gaming. But “the world of console gaming” as we know it has definitely seen better days. E3 2012 had all of the pageantry, but none of the spark that usually goes with it, unless you love sequels to games you haven’t yet finished.
But, as always, there were a few super cool things about E3.
First, of the endless attempts at igniting a new fire for multiplayer gameplay, by far the most innovative was Luigi’s Ghost Mansion for the Wii U. It wasn’t about better graphics, better killcams, better achievements or any of the stuff the shooters are all scrambling for. Instead, it was innovation in 1 vs. 4 gameplay in a genre that is completely approachable to families. It will be hard to tell from the pictures, but there was no other game on the show floor where the group playing was having more fun.
Second, watch out for Watch Dogs, from Ubisoft. Many saw the trailer for a jaw-droppingly gorgeous game, but my jaw dropped in a private screening where the designed pulled out his tablet and showed off the full companion app. Not only could you peruse all of the backstory and game assets with the ease and comfort of a tablet, but you could actually hack into a friend’s live game and manipulate the world around them with a couple of taps. I could see myself spending more time in the tablet experience than in the console experience.
Third, HAWKEN was interesting on a number of levels. As a mechwarrior style multiplayer shooter, they won’t get many points for creating a new genre. But they more than make up for it by innovating in every other way possible. Business model, F2P. Delivery model, streaming. E3 bash model, outside deck of the Luxe with Mix Master Mike. And best of all, they’re innovating where it counts, in what it takes to make a AAA game. When you see how beautiful the game is, how smooth the controls are, and how polished the gameplay is, you will be shocked to learn that it was all done by a tiny little team. A good team for sure, but tiny. And that’s why E3 2012 may be the end of the world for console gaming as we know it.