If E3 represents mainstream gaming, we’re doing OK
When E3 rolls around each year, the same tired old whinges emerge from the same tired old self-appointed arbiters of taste. E3 doesn’t represent the true innovators working within videogames today, they say; rather, it is the epitome of all that is wrong with an industry that never tires of telling the world how many billions of dollars in revenue it generates each year. To all that, we say: bullshit. Yes, when videogames were manufactured on cartridges at enormous expense, a visit to CES, which was videogames’ annual showcase before E3 arrived, laid bare the sort risk aversion that swamped 16bit consoles with a torrent of lame, licensed, production-line dross. But time has moved on, not least because of the transformative power of digital distribution. For obvious reasons, E3 2014 didn’t provide anything as seismic as last year’s PS4 triumph, but as an event at which to assess the game industry’s health, it was hardly short on returns.
This year Microsoft and Sony, in particular, gave an even greater emphasis to the creations of indie outfits, putting them on stage alongside big-budget productions from 400-strong teams. Mesmerising games such as Ori And The Blind Forest and No Man’s Sky weren’t given pride of place by platform holders because of the size of their creators’ marketing budgets – because their creators don’t have things like marketing budgets. These games made it instead thanks to the enthusiasm, dedication and talents of their creators, which is precisely as it should be.
The videogame industry offers plenty of things to rail at, but E3 2014 was a weak target. There was no shortage of window-rattling gunplay and explosions among this year’s lineup, but it took no effort at all to find more diverse options among experiments with asymmetrical multiplayer modes, virtual reality, free-to-play models and a clutch of NFC toys from Nintendo. As always, we try to approach all of these things – including cover game Bloodborne, which kicks off our 40-page E3 Hype section – with an open mind. It’s a much better starting point than a lazy sneer.