Another E3 is coming to a close, and as an event that’s fueled by hype and spectacle, many people feel the need to issue a “scorecard” tallying up the advances and fumbles of the presentations to ultimately be able to declare a “winner” of E3. And just as the sun rises in the East, there’s a contingent of contrarians who wish people wouldn’t do that, because we should all just be happy that everyone is happy and so on and so forth.
I’m an equal opportunity gamer and while I don’t prefer to play partisan when it comes to platforms, really, I enjoy the drama of this score-keeping every year, and truly believe that people who finger-wag need to get over themselves and take a look at the culture we’re talking about. Deciding who “won” the event is a rational, safe endeavor for several reasons:
- We’re talking about video “games”, and games are naturally about competition. I’m not a competitive person when I’m actually involved, but I can appreciate watching titans duke it out by trying to out-do one another. It’s fun to see the lengths to which each company will go to impress us. They appeal to what the products they make appeal to: our competitive streaks. Competition is the core of the games industry. Even the most benign games we play pits us against time, quantity, AI, or other players. It may not be hands-at-throat competition, but it’s what the industry peddles, so it shouldn’t be surprising that so many people do see E3 presentations as being about competition.
- It’s pointless. Come next week, it won’t matter “who won” because we’ll be left with mostly nothing in-hand except video recaps and memories, so we’ll be in no better position than we were before E3. And once the adrenaline pumping spectacle of keynote presentations are in the rear view, everything that was announced will get thrown into a bucket and meted out over release schedules between now and the next E3, and no one will care who “won” this year.
- There’s no title belt involved. Who “wins” this year doesn’t earn the winner any benefits or advantages. They don’t get to parade around at other conventions with an entourage and a gaudy title belt to rub in people’s faces. At most, their PR people get a fist bump for a job well done, and then everyone goes back to work.
- The companies themselves do it. As I pointed out in another post, two years ago (as of the writing of this post), Microsoft was fucking up so bad that Sony could have brought out an interpretive dance troop to perform a rendition of their financial earnings and they’d still have been in a better place than Xbox was. Instead, they pulled no punches with underhanded digs at their main competition. To us, choosing a “winner” is academic; to them, it’s business, and they most certainly keep track of “who won” because it’s all about the PR. But they have to because the “loser” needs to work that much harder to win back those whom they might have been disappointed. That is a win for us as the consumer, for the industry moving forward, and for the companies who have to step up their games.
I’m not ignorant to the fact that there’s vast quantities of people out there who are always eager to promote their platform in order to justify their investment, and that they do so by denigrating the competition. In the end, though, how much does their posturing matter? Often times they’re preaching to the choir, and when the Sharks meets the Jets in an even sillier choreographed fight than anything that’s found in West Side Story, the eventual outcome doesn’t mean jack squat anyway. Not everyone who partakes in this “who won” exercise are doing so strictly to promote their platform of choice. Yes, people tend to play favorites, but if you’re not following people who are level headed enough to consider the pros and cons of all participants and put partisanship aside, you might want to consider reviewing your social media roster.
As consumers, we’re not as privy to the inner workings of the gaming industry as our Tweets and forum posts and blog posts would like people to believe. We speculate, and that in itself is a game…a game with zero consequences. What’s the worst that can happen? We’re wrong? Who gets hurt in those situations? No one. Same with choosing a different “winner” each E3. Not everything has to be a crusade, especially in this case where the results are ephemeral and without ramifications.Read More