Who Won E3? Nobody — At Least Not Yet

The big conference reveals are over, we know a little more about availability and a lot more about pricing, and there’s a buzz about who “won” E3. You know who “won” E3? Nobody won E3… yet.

If you judged these things on audience reaction, then yeah, I guess you might have to award it to Sony for generating applause, fundamentally for taking it directly to Microsoft with regards to used game policy (at least for their first party games). I did rather like how it was summed up by Pro Wrestler Samoa Joe on Twitter:

“Finally caught the E3 conferences. I saw a really great Xbox conference, Then I watched Sony smash Microsoft in the head with a tack hammer.”

I’m not one to argue with a man who stages fights for a living — mostly because I’m certain he could beat me to a bloody pulp without breaking a sweat in real life — but I think he’s wrong.

Not that Sony’s conference didn’t bring a certain amount of crowd pleasing. Not that Microsoft doesn’t deserve at least scrutiny and probably criticism for some of its planned policies. Not even that Nintendo either “won” or “lost” by simply holding a Nintendo Direct to showcase games that we’ve largely known about beforehand.

No, the reason that I think he’s wrong is that E3 is all about hype in the short term, but there’s a longer game being played here. Hype is fine in the short term; it buys you column inches online, applause from an audience and a bit of social media buzz.

Then, next week, a celebrity somewhere falls out of her top, or a character is killed in a popular drama, or there’s a new shiny plastic smartphone or… whatever. The buzz moves on. Hype can be fun, but it only lasts so long.

The long game in this case is actually getting consoles into the hands of consumers and playing the finished games.

So before you think about who “won” E3, consider this.

You haven’t played any of the games announced at E3 yet.

I haven’t played any of the games announced at E3 yet.

Heck, Mark’s wandering the E3 floor (quite possibly in a sleep deprived haze, but hey, he’s a new dad; this stuff is par for the course) and even he hasn’t played any of the finished code of the new games yet; just the promotional early code for most of them.

It could well be that the PS4 has some kind of optimisation bug that causes it to catch fire every time you insert a used game. The Xbox One might emit deadly rays that cause the left eye of every third person who plays to spontaneously fall out. The Wii U GamePad might be found to contain chemicals that slowly transform you into Timmy, the dog from The Famous Five. At this stage, anything is possible.*

More seriously, there could be killer Xbox One bundles. There could be games that play much, much better on the PS4, or experiences that only the Wii U can actually handle from a gameplay point of view once the finished code is actually in our hands. We don’t know, and won’t know who “won” E3 2013 until the sales figures start to flow in for actual games and actual consoles. Until then, it’s all just hype, and while hype can be a fun game to play for a short while, it’s not the same thing as an actual game to play. That’s what I’m excited about from this year’s E3 — but we’ve got a bit of a wait for most of those to be a practical reality.

*A note for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo’s legal teams: I’m hypothesising here. You can put the lawyers away. Put them down…. down… that’s better. Now, give them a pro-Bonio and a tummy rub.

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