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.

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