California dreams of broadening the games audience were put on hold in LA this week – as all of the industry’s major players knuckled down on their core titles.
Turn any corner at the Los Angeles Convention Center and you would find format holders and third-parties wanting to reclaim and pander to the alpha male demographic that sits at the heart of gaming.
Microsoft’s blockbuster-packed showcase opened with Halo 4 and closed with a deafening Call of Duty: Black Ops II demo.
Sony went big on two new IPs, adult thrillers Beyond and Last of Us, and revelled in a long and bloody God of War demo.
Even Nintendo, as it reintroduced Wii U during the week, talked about owned IP for ardent fans while darting between grown-up fare like Arkham City and Ubisoft’s ZombiU.
Other third-party titles were on the same guns, gore or girls track, be that EA’s headliner Dead Space 3, Eidos’ torture-fest Tomb Raider, or the new mature-themed Star Wars 1313.
All the press conferences shut down the casual ranges that have populated other years’ showings, with things like Just Dance, Kinect and new Sony kids property Wonderbook the only mainstreamers allowed in.
The big name firms were more likely to talk live web broadcasts of their E3 events, feeding hungry fans, rather than offer strategy insight for the trade attendees and media that actually filled the rooms.
While visitors left some of the events scratching their heads, core gamers scouring blogs and livestreams were often more clued up thanks to official videos and post-match content.
Ubisoft livestreamed to YouTube and fielded questions submitted via Facebook. EA and Microsoft boasted Spike TV support. Sony bussed in hundreds of PlayStation Access fans.
Nintendo mentioned its own official E3 content programming five times. How many stats or business insight did it share? Zero.
Miyamoto made an oblique reference to the shift, saying “the important challenge for all of us is to show the fun deeper games can offer when consumers are said to be moving to lighter games”.
Alain Corre, EMEA MD of Ubisoft, was less vague: “While the market is still broad and the family market is still there, a lot of hardcore games are here, watching E3,” he told MCV.
Ubisoft was the go-to partner for format-holders hungry to show some core games cred, with lengthy slots for Splinter Cell at Microsoft and AC III at Sony.
Said Corre: “After our event we had the top five global trending topics on Twitter – the buzz has been phenomenal. E3 is mainly a show for gamers now.”