Like death and taxes, there’s nothing more predictable than the calls on the horse race between the big three console manufacturers at E3 (the Electronics Entertainment Expo). This year is no different. Just do a Google search (or “Bing” if that’s your jam) of Who won E3, and gaming outlet after gaming outlet will have the their final word on the outcome of the competition to gain the most PR goodwill.
This year it appears that most journalists weren’t wowed by much of what was present at the expo. While A-list games like Halo 4, Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3, Bioshock Infinite, etc. etc., were all showcased to great applause and enthusiasm, it wasn’t as if any of those franchises being present was surprising, even to us couch surfers who watched via livestream or G4TV.
Microsoft doubled down on Kinect which didn’t spark too much in the way of positive press; Sony issued a decent apology for their recent misadventures with hackers while moving onto their new, somewhat interesting mobile platform (the Vita); and Nintendo seemed to garner the most interest since they were, after all, the only company showing off a future console product, the Wii U, with its funky new controller with a large, built-in touchscreen. Pile on all of the marketing speak about motion controls, “rear touch”, 3D, cloud storage, connectivity, etc., there was a sense of combat fatigue among some of the veteran commentators of E3 2011 despite the general sense of enjoyment they shared about the actual products displayed on the show floor. “Who won” never seemed less important to the enthusiast press.
As usual, I’m on the side of accepting the trite answer to the question of who won: the consumers. The competitive nature of the video games business continues to amaze more than many other core consumer industries (even pushing development in other spheres like 3D televisions or streaming movies), and frankly, whoever looked the best, be it Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft, it doesn’t matter as long as the future brings steady innovation, competitive pricing and solid production values, all for us, the paying customers.
(In the interest of full disclosure, as of the writing of this post, I am a contractor with Microsoft Network’s website, MSN.com)