The Guns of Navarro: Sifting Through the E3 Rubble

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Posted by Alex (1933 posts) -

It's been a long time since I saw a palpable sense of excitement from my colleagues, peers, and really just the bulk of the game industry following an E3. Despite always being the biggest, most important-to-cover of all video game trade shows, the last few years had given way to a sense of malaise that permeated every press conference, demo, and interview. Most people seem to be of the mind that this console generation ran a tad long, and as a result, the novelty of E3's "giant show" status had similarly begun to taper off. Not so this year. With two new consoles debuting a whole bunch of new games--as well as Nintendo debuting several new games for its own, months-old new system, people were positively buzzing by the time 5:00 rolled around on Thursday. As exhausted as everyone seemed to be, all anyone could talk about was all the great games they saw.

Look at my face. LOOK HOW HAPPY MY FACE IS!

I won't rehash all the games we saw and loved at the show; you can just as easily check out our many E3 videos, podcasts, and news stories to see what we dug, what we didn't, and what we chose to drink over the course of the show. We covered an awful lot of ground there, even in the face of rampant, terrible thievery. If you've missed out on any of it, today would be a terrific day to catch up (as we're out of the office until tomorrow).

Instead, I thought it might be a good idea to take a few of your post-E3 questions and answer them, right here in this very column. Unsurprisingly, a lot of you had stuff to ask about Microsoft's post-show position, the veracity of Sony's impressive PR push, and just what the hell is going on with Nintendo. I did my best to answer everything I could.

With that, let's get to the questions.

Q: It seems that Microsoft's biggest problem is not the nature of their planned services for the Xbox One, but that they cannot speak to the nature of those services, or control the message. Since Peter Moore left for EA a few years back, Microsoft has not been able to find "That Person" to speak about the vision of the Xbox One.

As someone who has worked in public relations in this industry, I was wondering what your take was in Microsoft's inability to control their own marketing message in regards to the Xbox One?

--Steven

A: It is bizarre, isn't it? The best thing Sony did at the show wasn't even necessarily related to any one specific announcement, but to actually have a bunch of strong, controlled messages for those announcements that remained relatively consistent no matter who was being interviewed by what outlet. The mild confusion over the status of The Last Guardian notwithstanding, Sony looked prepared, confident, and totally in control.

By contrast, Microsoft looked like they were trying to keep control with a white knuckled grip, but somehow managed to just keep going off the reservation. You made a good point about Microsoft not really having "that guy" to be the main messaging man for the last few years. Don Mattrick is a smart guy and a good talker, but he has a bad habit of saying things to press that come off as deeply out of touch, if not down right Mr. Burns-ian. Phil Harrison is a good speaker, but his rambling at the first event is what got Microsoft into so much trouble in the first place. Phil Spencer seems like a really smart guy, but there's something about him that always comes off a bit less than genuine, even if he doesn't necessarily mean to be.

More to the point, it just appears like nobody at Microsoft is talking to anybody else at Microsoft. There are some basic, high-level messages that they're sticking to, but there are tons of less-negative details about the system that it seems like the people doing these interviews either don't know about, or don't care about. At this point, it's time for Microsoft to regroup. I don't think they necessarily even have to completely reverse their policies--doing so would just put them in an even more Romney-esque situation of flip-flopping--but they have to say something different. Even if it's just someone from the company reiterating some of the items from this maybe (probably) true pastebin from a supposed Microsoft engineer would be a nice change of pace from the blind, bull-in-a-china-shop methodology they've employed thus far. Microsoft just has to find a way to stop looking like they're strong-arming consumers. Unless, of course, they really are aiming to strong-arm consumers, in which case, hey, I guess we appreciate the honesty? Sort of?

Q: Hi Alex,

I'm kind of interested in what you make of the controversy surrounding the Microsoft Press Conference, specifically during the Killer Instinct/Twitch demo. I remember watching it and cringing when the guy was beating the lady pretty badly in the game (obviously scripted in context later), and the following was mentioned "Just let it happen, it'll be over soon."

For me personally, I don't think they obviously meant it in a certain way, but it just sounded like a really terrible rape joke. I mean, it was one step away from saying, "you're getting raped." When it's in the context of guy saying it to a woman, it seemed super creepy to me. I saw a bit of a reaction to this on twitter which added to the whole general sexism feeling since there weren't any female protagonists. So it kind of seemed like negative crap on top of negative crap.

So do you think it's over reaction? Do you think it's gross? Do you not give a shit (which is totally valid!)?

Thanks, and cheers for the awesome E3 coverage as always from yourself and the others at GB.

--Mike (@linuxscouser)

To be fair, you're probably going to hear plenty of horrible rape jokes over Xbox Live chat when playing Killer Instinct. Maybe this was just an ill-conceived attempt at realism?

A: I'm of two minds on this subject. One the one hand, there's little doubt in my mind that nobody on a Microsoft stage would willingly, knowingly make a rape joke, especially when they're on live television. I'm double certain that nobody would put that bit in with the "approved banter," which leads me to believe it was just the guy making an off-the-cuff remark that he, I assume, instantly regretted. On the other hand, there's really no nice way to spin that remark. A few years ago, that sort of joke might have just been noted as being a bit distasteful and brushed past, but we're in an entirely different climate these days. People are much, much more sensitive to slights and heinous jokes toward women, especially when it comes to anything pertaining to the word "rape."

Do I think it was intended as a rape joke? Not really, but there's no denying that it came off very weird, and it's too close to one to be comfortable material for an event like this. I see some people saying this was blown too far out of proportion, but no, I think it was actually blown into exactly correct proportion. People pointed out something that came off as highly inappropriate, words were written about it, and Microsoft released a statement apologizing for the remark. That's how the system is intended to work, is it not? Hopefully a lesson has been learned, and that will be the last time we hear that sort of thing at a press conference.

Q: So obviously the word on the street after (and before) E3 is that the PS4 is the dope console and the XBONE will be a fabulous failure. My question is, how much does any of this E3 messaging even matter? Other than the $100 pricing difference, does the uninformed regular consumer pay enough attention to the differences between the consoles to move or not move the sales needle? Is it wrong to just assume that if marketed to the masses correctly, the PS4 will sell better simply because it's $100 less than the XBONE, not because of required internet connections, used and loaned game restrictions, the Kinect/Eye, etc.?

Looking at sales numbers, last gen's hardware sales were dominated by the Wii, even though the "core" audience doesn't give a shit about the Wii and nobody has cared about the Wii for the last 4 years (at least). Why did it sell? It was cheap, it was innovative and it was fun. Isn't that all that the masses care about? Aren't the "core" people just going to buy both anyways like they all seem to have done this gen as well?

--Ryan

A: You're at least partially right in assuming that the minutiae of each system's features aren't really what the casual consumer are going to be paying attention to. Lots of kids are just going to want one console or the other because they want the games, and either don't care, or even know about what features do what within the core of each system. Similarly, plenty of families will pick up systems purely on the merits of prices or at least the simple, back-of-the-box features like "it does TV!" and such. Presumably, all this chatter from the press and hardcore players alike is really only a segment of the much larger gaming audience talking to itself.

At least, I think that would have been true in previous generations, though now, it seems like the dialogue among endemic journalists is seeping out into the mainstream a bit more. Microsoft's perceived failures weren't just relegated to a bunch of gaming blogs bitching endlessly. Numerous mainstream publications took up the same mantle. Hell, my dad, who hasn't played a video game since that one time he agreed to play Top Gear with me when I was 11, called me up entirely out of the blue to ask a bunch of questions about what the hell Microsoft was doing. He watched that first press conference on TV, and read through some of the E3 stuff in the major news networks, and came entirely to his own conclusion that Microsoft was fucking up its messaging. Considering I've had to talk him through just about every major game industry event of the last decade, this was quite surprising to me.

There will be plenty of consumers who have no idea why Sony's anti-DRM messaging means anything, but more so than in previous generations, it does seem like people are listening.

I've heard similar stories from several other people throughout the week. As much as significant awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of these systems has been specific to the hardcore audience in these last several years, I think we're actually starting to move out of that. Gaming systems are much more than they once were, especially as of the last-gen, which finally introduced them as more broad-spectrum living room media centers. More people pay attention to this stuff than ever before. That's why having a good showing at an event like E3 is more important than ever. Will this E3 automatically determine the "winner" of this console gen? Hardly. But it's put Sony off to a running start, while Microsoft is left cleaning up after itself in incredibly public fashion. And people are noticing.

Q: Which next-gen reserve will give me the best chance at a higher resale value due to limited supply after release? Word is Sony is taking more pre-orders, so does that also imply the will have more product available on shelves? Will the XBOne be good investment? Have you heard anything this early that will shed light on this?

--@ParlayJesus

A: This is what you're worried about? Which console will be harder to find so you can get the maximum resale value on eBay? Maybe you're a nice fellow who doesn't realize this, but you do understand that most people who want to just go buy new consoles kind of hate this practice with a fiery vengeance, right? Because you're buying up the limited supply and then jacking up the prices online? It's kind of shitty, dude. You might as well just be scalping tickets to the Stanley Cup Finals out in front of the TD Garden.

Boo to this question, and boo to you, good sir.

Q: With the Xbox One making it very difficult to play used game, do you think GameStop will favor the PS4 ? According to Neogaf, they are already doing so...

--Jean-François

A: I think GameStop will absolutely support whatever DRM licensing program Microsoft has cooked up, and then proceed to promote the living hell out of used PS4 and Wii U games, while effectively just leaving Xbox One stuff on the back shelf to rot. Just my theory, of course.

Q: Hi! Obviously this was the biggest E3 in quite some time, I would say this was even more important than x360/ps3 announcements because of the state of the industry right now, content going digital, mobile devices, Sony and MS having very different paths chosen...

1)since Jack Tretton said none of the ps4 first party games will have restrictions with selling, trading games but publishers/developers will still be able to dictate how used games behave on the platform, do you think we will only be able to sell or trade ps4 exclusives and still pay licenses/activations for third party games?

2) who do you think will be on a better position by E3 2014?

Thanks for reading sorry for crappy English I'm from Venezuela.

--César González

A: Your English is more than adequate, César. Quite decent, actually!

1) There's really no way of knowing at this point. Sony's DRM policy of "we aren't changing shit" does lead to a good deal more ambiguity than Microsoft's more rigid, but defined policies. Sony saying it won't put any used game restrictions on its own games certainly bodes well, but trying to predict how other publishers may react to the lack of system-side DRM is nigh-on impossible. I definitely heard some rumblings from around the show floor that a couple of publishers--who I shan't dare name--were mightily pissed about Sony's conference announcements. But that could just as easily lead to them simply shifting some of their resource and content focuses elsewhere, as opposed to applying their own DRM schemes. We'll be waiting to see the result of this one for a while.

2) Again, tough to say. Sony won the hearts and minds at this show, but while the PR game is important, it's hardly the end-all, be-all. Until we get a sense of how these systems might sell, predicting how things will be a year from now is just about impossible. If this year has proven anything, it's that momentum swings in this industry are as violent as they are unpredictable. Sony can still screw this up, but they'd have to do something pretty monumentally stupid to ruin the goodwill they've engendered thus far.

Q: Hi Alex,

Thank you for your great coverage, I really enjoyed your tweets during the conferences!

Now that you have had time with the PS4 controller I am really curious if the sticks are a little tighter that then PS3 ones? That has always been the one thing I didn’t like about Sony’s controller that they were too loose.

Best Regards,

--Michael Bach
Acapulco, Mexico

We are all quite fond of the PlayStation 4 controller around these parts. It feels great.

A: As you may have seen during our day 3 podcast--where noted PlayStation Top Man Adam Boyes brought along a system and a controller--we had pretty much nothing but nice things to say about the system. The layout, weight and feel of the thing, and yes, the tightness of the analog sticks were all very much to our liking. It's definitely the best PlayStation controller I've held in a good long while, and in practice (I did get to play a few PS4 games on the show floor), it handles real, real nice. Microsoft's controller also feels pretty terrific, I might add. This is maybe the one time in gaming history where it feels like the controllers are finally an afterthought, since neither have much worth complaining about.

Q: E3 was supposed to save the Wii U, but I still don't care about the Wii U. Did this just start the cycle of "Nintendo will have games, just wait for E3" over again? Realistically, can the Wii U limp along for another year hoping to make a splash at the next E3?

--Jason Walters

A: I'm super conflicted about Nintendo's showing. I mean, the disappointment people talk about in regards to the company's lineup is hardly surprising, nor unwarranted. There were no new franchises announced, nor really even any older, dormant franchises making a significant appearance, either. Smash Bros., AKA the one game everyone seemed genuinely thrilled at the prospect of, wasn't even on the show floor (because it's still way early in development). By the same token, what was there was hardly bad. The new Mario game, Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong, Bayonetta 2, and even some of the third-party stuff (what little of it there was) all looked really solid.

But "really solid" isn't what Nintendo needed to boost Wii U sales. Nobody holding out on buying a Wii U was waiting for a "pretty great looking" Mario game, or another 2D Donkey Kong game, no matter how great that might be. They were looking to be surprised, to see something other than what they were already expecting. Otherwise, why wouldn't they have bought a Wii U by now? Nintendo didn't make a case for their struggling console. They pretty much just reminded everyone, "Hey, we're still doing all this same stuff. We just have more of it now."

I just feel bad for those games, because nearly everything I played left a positive impression on me. But if someone I knew were on the fence about what console to buy this fall, I could in no good conscience recommend the Wii U over either Microsoft or Sony's offerings. The third-party support isn't there, the first-party stuff isn't that much more exciting than what was there before, and I frankly just don't see much of a reason for anyone who doesn't already care to do so. It's exactly what I was afraid of after Nintendo conceded its press conference. How I would have loved to have been wrong, but man, was I ever depressingly right.

Q: Hey Alex! I hope your day has been more tranquil than the past week has been.

I'm a relatively new freelancer who hasn't been to an E3 before, and I wanted to know what you would change about the conference if you were were given sovereign power—over, you know, E3. Are there press conference times you would change? Would you restrict the number of people who could attend (like 2007's E3 in Santa Monica) to make navigating the floor easier? Would you alter how E3 appointments are made?

This might be a little too inside baseball for your column, but I'm curious what you think nonetheless. Hope you have a safe trip back to the East Coast!

--Perry Vandell

A: You just had to remind me of that crazy ass Santa Monica year, didn't you? What a weird disaster that was. Granted, it was a well-meaning disaster, one frankly of the games press' own making. For years people complained about what a bloated, ridiculous shit show E3 had become. So in 2007, they try to scale it back, but end up scaling it back so far that the show bordered on useless. It didn't take long for them to reverse that idea, for obvious reasons.

Man, remember tiny-ass Santa Monica E3? Let's never do that again. Like, ever.

Because of that, I'm somewhat reluctant to get too backseat driver about how E3 should be run. Just because I hate something doesn't mean it would somehow benefit the show to excise it. The one thing I will say about this year's E3 is that only on the first day did I really find myself clogged up in human traffic to the point where I wanted to kill anyone. Day two and three felt strangely docile, comparatively, though there were obviously plenty of lines circling around various booths, too.

My only complaint is that there are still clearly quite a lot of people at E3 who have no business being at E3. I am aware of my own hypocrisy, as I started out going to E3 as an underage hanger-on with no professional responsibilities justifying my presence there. But I also tried to be respectful, stay out of people's way, and just enjoy the games where I could. Some people come to E3 just to treat it as their own particular playground, and I really think that's gotta stop.

It's not specific to any one group (exhibitors, media, retailers, whatever), and in fact seems to span most of the categories of people who attend the show. There are just a few too many people who are clearly there just to clog up lines and get free swag, no matter how bad that swag might be. I was standing at Ubisoft waiting for my appointment, and this woman in an EA Sports hat, some random company t-shirt (which was maybe a size or two too big for her) and one of those heinous AMD capes they were handing out bounded up to the media check-in line and asked where she could get more free stuff. Which is to say nothing of the cosplayers, a phenomenon I don't really remember happening much at E3s in earlier years. There were quite a few of them this year, and I'm not talking about the people hired to work booths. I mean people with badges, there presumably to "work" the show, dressed in full-on costumes. I think cosplay at fan conventions is great, but at E3? You couldn't look like a bigger "I don't need to be here" brand of asshole.

Q: Over the past few year the spectacle of E3 has really grown to bea brutal grind for pretty much everyone involved. An over-inflated, same ol' thing, pitch and shill show that a lot of people were just getting sick of. Do you think this year brought a little bit of that old fire back to E3? Is there genuine excitement again?

Kyle Mercury

A: Everyone say hi to my friend, Kyle, folks. I used to work with this dude back at MTV Games. He's great.

I think this year was, if nothing else, a reminder of why E3 got to be so overblown in the first place. Back when console generations were usually more like 5 years apiece, there were more of these big E3s, replete with launch games, lofty promises, and a whole lot of pomp and circumstance. There wasn't as much time for the show to turn into a samey grind because new hardware was appearing every few years or so. This eight-year generation has worn on people, especially those who have to attend E3 year after year. Of course there are great games at every show, but there's no getting around the fact that console introductions are always the biggest, most thrilling years to attend. I'll just say it was nice to have some wholly new devices to play around this year. Definitely took the edge off of covering the show.

Q: Hi, Alex

What was the most mechanically interesting or refreshing game you played at E3 this year?

--Max van der Heijden

A: I saw a lot of really amazing games at E3, though to be fair, a lot of them I saw in steered demos or theater presentations. Most of the stuff I got hands-on time with didn't necessarily push any huge boundaries in terms of mechanics, but that didn't stop me from enjoying myself in most every case.

Okay Respawn, you have my attention.

In terms of overall ambition, Remedy's Quantum Break looks like a real crazy case. Their idea of melding TV-style live action episodic storytelling with a third-person, time-stopping action game sounds bonkers in a way that I'm not entirely sure is going to work, but I absolutely respect the effort and am excited to see more of it. Titanfall's multiplayer gameplay also looks completely crazy to me, but in a very, very good way. I am not a multiplayer shooter guy by trade, but Titanfall's action looks like precisely the kind I could get into for a very, very long time. Jonathan Blow's The Witness was another great, intriguing demo I saw. It's definitely a puzzle game, with many of the trappings associated with that genre classification, but its ideas about wordless communication to the player, as well as the lovely aesthetics of the game, convinced me that was one worth getting excited about. And while it might be a bit shill-like of me to promote a former employer's game, I have nothing but nice things to say about Disney's Fantasia: Subtitle I Refuse to Repeat. Again, that's one of those games that doesn't explain itself well, and really needs to be experienced to be understood. I'll just say that even as someone who kind of hates Bruno Mars, I had a blast playing that stupid "Locked Out of Heaven" song. If that's not a musical achievement, I don't know what is.

There were tons more that I could list, but won't for the sake of not taking up everyone's time forever. Suffice it to say, many great games are on the horizon, and I couldn't be more excited.

--A

Staff
#1 Edited by Max_Cherry (1129 posts) -

Great!

#2 Posted by danlongman (95 posts) -

Awesome, Have been looking forward to this. Thanks Alex!

#3 Posted by Scrumdidlyumptious (1639 posts) -

It's really not a messaging problem. The console is just flawed. There's only so much that Microsoft's PR people can do with it...

#4 Posted by AnjinM (108 posts) -

I already agree with your intro. This long console cycle has made E3 pretty lackluster. This year has been a great reminder of how cool the show can be.

#5 Posted by naeblis213 (41 posts) -

I hate to beat on a dead horse but really, I think gamers are not reacting so violently towards the DRM policies so much as the attitude behind the policies. Microsoft is exhuming a 'my way or the highway' attitude that raises the distrust even more than the policies themselves. EA also has some of the same issues of great games, horrible PR or business practices. With the two collaborating to strengthen DRM, gamers are right to mistrust them because really, why should we?

#6 Posted by Cobbles (16 posts) -

Awesome stuff, Alex.

#7 Posted by tourgen (4426 posts) -

It's really not a messaging problem. The console is just flawed. There's only so much that Microsoft's PR people can do with it...

I agree. It's weird to hear people say, "well they just need to spin the message better." No. No, they need to offer a better product with better terms.

#8 Posted by deskp (444 posts) -

@scrumdidlyumptious: For me the xbox's price is what kills it. Living in europe/scandinavia we proapblt won't have any of the extra tv servvices and such. even if we do I dont watch tv the "old way"

So asking me to pay 100$(ish) more for features I cant use and don't want gets a bit silly.

Even with the camera the PS4 is 40$ cheaper.

You can get xbox one and 1 game OR ps4 and 3 games for roughly the same price!

#9 Posted by ajamafalous (11793 posts) -

Wow, that is a lot of questions. Thanks Alex!

#10 Edited by ArbitraryWater (11413 posts) -

Would one call these questions... burning?

Online
#11 Edited by mrsmiley (1033 posts) -

What a fantastic write up. It's so good that I'm going to say it's good without reading it just to be among the first comments like many of the others here!

;)

#12 Posted by BigD145 (175 posts) -

GameStop will push the XboxOne to the front of the store because that's the only way it will sell to impulse buyers.

Online
#13 Edited by JamesJeux007 (467 posts) -

This is not what a happy face looks like. NOT AT ALL ! Also, what's wrong with Rhythm Rhapsody ? It's a pretty good subtitle...

More seriously, a really interesting and insightful read as always. Great job, Alex :')

#14 Posted by alwaysbebombing (1502 posts) -

Ribbed for my gaming pleasure.

#15 Edited by djou (849 posts) -

The most outrageous thing about the KI demo was the two players did a shitty job in showing off the game. Don't they realize that the fun in watching a fighting game match is when the players are neck-to-neck trading blows, doing counters, and performing outrageous supers? Not trading awkward banter and pining one of the players in a corner. Setting aside gender issues and the really inappropriate comments, why didn't they get two people up there that actually played the game well?

#16 Posted by RetroVirus (1455 posts) -

Thanks Alex! Also, I think this E3 was great for GB as well! Fart Patrol, butt tumblrs, "PLAY THE GAME", that Disney Interview, Drew's behind the scenes video; just a lot of great stuff.

#17 Posted by Pop (2591 posts) -

Great answers Alex, that picture of you from the second day on the floor will haunt my nightmares for a while. I really like your answer on the rape joke thing, can't wait for these consoles to come out and to see what's going to happen.

#18 Posted by Deathpooky (1367 posts) -

It's really not a messaging problem. The console is just flawed. There's only so much that Microsoft's PR people can do with it...

I don't agree with that. There are messages they could have emphasized even if the details are still murky - no disc needed ever, instant access to your entire digital library linked to your gamertag with the ability to redownload games as needed, your library can be brought with you to any XBONE, your library can be easily shared among friends and family digitally. Steam with increased game sharing and trading capabilities, only on a console so you don't have to worry about hardware.

There are a ton of counterarguments and caveats, but they didn't even try to make that argument. Instead they just sheepishly announced their DRM without even trying to spin why they were doing it or what benefit we would get. Complete PR failure.

#19 Posted by xxNBxx (969 posts) -

I think, If Microsoft just came out and said that their policies (of no used games sales, and 24hour online checks) will foster a steam like pricing and sales environment. Meaning games will come out cheaper and go on sale within a few months of being out. It would even out the poor messaging. Until they do its just a flip of what happen with PS3 and Xbox 360.

#20 Posted by mrsmiley (1033 posts) -

My only complaint is that there are still clearly quite a lot of people at E3 who have no business being at E3. I am aware of my own hypocrisy, as I started out going to E3 as an underage hanger-on with no professional responsibilities justifying my presence there. But I also tried to be respectful, stay out of people's way, and just enjoy the games where I could. Some people come to E3 just to treat it as their own particular playground, and I really think that's gotta stop.

I completely agree. I also was one of those underage "tagalongs" at one point, but I did my absolute best to be courteous and stay out of the way. That said, I've been attending E3 for four years now as an actual games journalist (didn't make it this year, sadly), and I can't believe the amount of people on the floor that have nothing to do with the games industry. Essentially, if you're not a mainstream game sight like this one, Gamespot, IGN, etc, you're not going to get a personal appointment, which means you have to stand in line for hours to play anything. I thought GDC would fix this problem, since it's a developers conference, but it suffers from many of the same issues that E3 does. There are tons of great fan conventions like PAX that offer thrills to game fans, but I wish the E3 PRESS conference was restricted to just press and industry affiliates.

#21 Edited by Phantomjak (42 posts) -

Alex, thanks for sharing some of your insight and questions that other people have had. I find it a wonderful look into the person bringing us to the coverage, which was amazing. You mentioned that there are people at E3 who do not need to be there and I agree that would be frustrating, but I know that given a chance to go and take my 11 year old son, I would in a heartbeat. To be able to play games before you own them is why demos and kiosks are set up, and those are to help us make decisions in purchasing. But to play a game before it is completed and possibly make a comment that may help the success of that game, that is magical and why many of us strive to get into beta tests, even if it is only one weekend for stress testing.

Cheers!

#22 Posted by JOURN3Y (230 posts) -

These questions are on fire!

#23 Edited by Slab64 (1045 posts) -

Hi, Kyle.

#24 Posted by RobotSquad (213 posts) -

Hi Kyle.

#25 Edited by NTM (7233 posts) -

This question thing reminds me of burning questions from old GameSpot (is it supposed to?) And yeah, I guess I heard the rape thing as well when that guy said it during Killer Instinct, but about five seconds after he said it I moved on. I didn't know it was a big deal. 2007's E3, all I really remember about it was watching the guys on GameSpot (like Alex) outside talking about how nice the area was around the press conference, but I don't really remember what they felt about the actual conference, though I do remember them saying how they were excited for Mercenaries 2, and that didn't turn out so well.

#26 Edited by stalefishies (330 posts) -

The way people seem to want to spin the KI demo into a rape joke is kind of pathetic, honestly. It's a game about literally beating the other player up - of course the talk about the game is going to be competitive in nature. I can see how you can theoretically get from 'it'll be over soon' to rape, but in the context of a squash match in a fighting game it becomes such a huge leap in logic that it's nonsensical.

But the most embarrassing thing about it all is that, as a byproduct of this weird obsession with wanting to twist it into a rape joke, people have managed to miss the real damage in what was said. The whole thing was a joke. The punchline? That the woman was - shock horror - actually good at video games! Who'd have thought!? Yet the proliferation of this genuinely damaging stereotype has been swept under the carpet by the very people who think they're fighting against it. It's just silly.

#27 Posted by Dark_Lord_Spam (3122 posts) -

I'm now just imagining Alex's dad calling him to say "they've finally gone and XBone'd themselves right in the A, haven't they?"

#28 Edited by bemusedchunk (654 posts) -

MUSIC EVOLVED!

#29 Edited by Winternet (8000 posts) -

This is a long-ass... thing.

#30 Edited by Krakn3Dfx (2484 posts) -

The thing that separated the 2 conferences for me, more than any game or system specs or Facebook integration or TV functionality, was how genuinely excited Boyes, Tretton and Yoshida seemed to be about what they were announcing, and how closely Sony fell in line with what gamers want out of a console.

In contrast, seeing Phil Spencer and Don Mattrick come out looking as cocky as ever, with a very much, "Here's what we're offering you for $500, bow down to Microsoft!" attitude about the entire situation. I think it was a huge turnoff for a lot of people, especially in comparison.

#31 Posted by Row (25 posts) -

Great read Alex. You were great during E3 too. Keep up the good work.

#32 Posted by machinerebel (117 posts) -

I was looking forward to this, thanks Alex. Great article!

#33 Edited by BonOrbitz (2134 posts) -

I agree with the sentiment that Microsoft doesn't know how to communicate with the consumer. It's not just what they're saying, but how they're saying it, and I don't think Microsoft understands how to do both with their "our way or the highway" mentality. They're just throwing out statements without doing a good job explaining the "why" behind them. They're reminding me of what Sony was like back in '06.

...and poor, poor Nintendo. I just knew I was going to gladly fork money over for Wii U this holiday season, but I was wrong. The creative well at Nintendo seems to have run dry in their desperation to put out first party software and I wonder if the Wii U can even "limp along" to the next E3 with the rumors of Ubisoft's plans to pull back on their support of the system. Nintendo's decent, comfortable line-up is serviceable, but they need to show more than just games that are built upon pre-existing games (Mario 3D World? C'mon, man!). Yeah, I know, they've been doing that for a long time, but I was expecting to see some groundbreaking stuff that would make me want to throw money at them. Yes, Wrasslin Reggie, I have "PLAYED THE GAME". It looks like I've played all of them already.

Great read, Alex!

#34 Edited by Shaka999 (447 posts) -

Reading through that pastebin-

If microsoft's goal is to create something like steam with cheaper prices and all that, THEN WHY WASN'T THAT A POINT MADE TO CONSUMERS?! Or was that message given out between all of their stupid fucking buzzwords? (I'll admit I tuned out after awhile)

#35 Posted by DrDarkStryfe (1079 posts) -

Thank you for answering my question, Alex. The complete opposite reactions to Sony and Microsoft was the most striking thing for me this E3. It should be odd that top level design and business decisions are the top story at a trade show about games, but all of the news that has been coming out with Gamestop and Amazon preorder sales and the leaked Microsoft PR documents made it the talking point of a pretty good show.

I found it pretty funny that for a second straight year, a major console manufacturer royally fumbled the premise of their own hardware. Nintendo was pretty much in the same boat last year as they did, and seem to continue to do, as seen with Patrick's Dumptruck interview, a terrible job at talking about makes the Wii U tick.

Maybe things will change in the next few months. In all honesty, all of this stuff means nothing as Microsoft, and Sony, will sell out of their consoles during the holidays. There are more than enough brand loyalists on both sides to ensure that.

The problem will come in the months after E3, when you depend on the word of mouth of those early adopters to help drive your message and the message is still cloudy as hell.

#36 Posted by nate6858 (163 posts) -

Looking forward to the first time I can work "Mr. Burns-ian" into a conversation!

#37 Posted by THRICE_604 (210 posts) -

Microsoft's messaging is definitely whats killing them. Seeming aloof and out of touch with the consumer while screaming benefits without properly explaining them is getting them no where fast. They are forcing technology down the throats of the consumer when the market clearly isn't ready for it. Otherwise the reaction would not be so violent.

All the while Sony has a clear message. They are listening to the consumer while still leaving the door open to digital sales. Until these video game consoles don't have disc drives for physical media there is no such thing as a digital only future. People are just not understanding that I think. And to treat physical media as a digital purchase seems wildly out of touch with where we are today.

Sony was in Microsoft's shoes 7-8 years ago. They were on top of the world and probably more out of touch than MS is now. They paid dearly for it. As a result Sony has dramatically restructured themselves. Shuhei Yoshida and Adam Boyes running the public face of the company shows just how much they have changed. They genuinely care about video games, its not just a business but a passion for them. That is Sony's story throughout the PS3's life as a whole, everyone that brought them down is gone and they are putting the right people in the right places and thus far it looks like its working.

#38 Edited by patrick_sainsbury (4 posts) -

Awesome job yet again Alex

#39 Edited by Undeadpool (4902 posts) -

@deathpooky said:

@scrumdidlyumptious said:

It's really not a messaging problem. The console is just flawed. There's only so much that Microsoft's PR people can do with it...

I don't agree with that. There are messages they could have emphasized even if the details are still murky - no disc needed ever, instant access to your entire digital library linked to your gamertag with the ability to redownload games as needed, your library can be brought with you to any XBONE, your library can be easily shared among friends and family digitally. Steam with increased game sharing and trading capabilities, only on a console so you don't have to worry about hardware.

There are a ton of counterarguments and caveats, but they didn't even try to make that argument. Instead they just sheepishly announced their DRM without even trying to spin why they were doing it or what benefit we would get. Complete PR failure.

This was the STRANGEST PART of Microsoft's messaging. The points you mention here are GOOD ones, but I didn't hear them emphasizing them, all I heard was a laundry list of what the console WON'T be able to do. Did no one tell these guys how much easier it is to sell a POSITIVE message??

I'm also confused about the Gamestop point, did I misunderstand when Jack Tretton seemed to say, in an interview, that 3rd party devs still decide how things like loaning and used game sales will work for their games, and that the "We love Used and Lending" only applies to Sony 1st party titles?

#40 Edited by Reisz (1455 posts) -

One more glowing impression of Fantasia. I'm going to have to start paying attention to this thing.

#41 Posted by Church069 (250 posts) -

Great article!

If you are going to make demands like always online and restricting used games, you have to justify to the consumer why you are doing that. What benefits or awesome new features do I receive by giving up these rights? Microsoft either doesn't have an answer for that, or they do and are just doing a piss-poor job of messaging it. As someone who loves games and wants to play some of exclusive games Xbox has, I hope it's the latter.

#42 Edited by warrenEBB (32 posts) -

Re: Nintendo

"...They were looking to be surprised, to see something other than what they were already expecting. Otherwise, why wouldn't they have bought a Wii U by now?"

I've been waiting to buy a WiiU, to see what Xbone and PS4 would offer at E3 (and to see if Nintendo would drop the price). Got a family now, figure I won't be able to buy all 3 consoles again, this generation.

Now that E3 is over:

I see I can get all the cool games announced for xbone&ps4 on my PC. Only the growing list of Nintendo games will be true console exclusives (and I know these will be polished. and each will have at least one interesting game mechanic innovation). So I'm buying a WiiU.

#43 Edited by Hassun (903 posts) -
#44 Edited by KoolAid (820 posts) -

Cool write up. In regards to the rape joke, I would also like to know why they thought it was a good idea to have one person who is "good" at Killer Instinct playing someone who is "bad" at it. (I use quotes because obviously it was staged). Why not have two players who are skilled at the game and have it actually look interesting? The fact that they made the "bad" player a women just seems to play into stereotypes too much...

Unless, of course, that was exactly what they were going for. Power fantasies. People like 'em. I hope that's not the case though, it's kinda depressing.

#45 Posted by Cybexx (1146 posts) -

I think Microsoft could have spun their DRM strategy into much more of a positive with the right messaging. I mean they could have focused on the fact that after you install the game you don't need the disc and you can re-download the game from their servers if you don't have the disc at hand. This is something that Sony can't really offer with PS4 with their classic disc-DRM strategy. The problem is they saddled the positive aspects of their strategy with a ton of rules that kind of treat all their customers as pirates, to be frank.

There are too many rules and many of the rules don't have enough clarification, which of course leads everybody to read a worst-case-senario into any of the vagueness. The 24-hour thing is especially a sticking point for a lot of people, its just so arbitrary. I understand the need to validate the disc when you first install the game but I don't understand why you can't play offline games in an offline mode (similar to Steam but hopefully less touchy).

Microsoft is doing a poor job of winning over Europe as well, considering that Xbox One's always-online functionality doesn't support half of Europe and the european price is a slap in the face on-top of that. I guess they have the FIFA Ultimate Team deal (I know this feature as the reason someone manipulated Microsoft customer support to gain access to my Live account).

Personally I thought MS's actual presentation was fine. I think in terms of Triple-A exclusives they are on-par with Sony, though they are obviously lagging way behind with indies thanks to their crappy and archaic slot system, which is weird because they were at the bleeding edge of that stuff 8 years ago. That black DRM cloud hanging over the whole presentation was hard to ignore though.

I think Sony just believes that the real battle won't be decided on disc-based media and that they don't need to piss people off with drastic policy changes. Just get as many people as possible buying the system and slowly introduce them to the convenience of digital distribution.

#46 Edited by VirgilLeadsYou (22 posts) -

In regard to the listed question and the resulting tweets,

"I'm not alone in thinking people who buy consoles at launch just to resell them at higher prices on eBay are scum, right?"

I'd say I have similar feelings, though I can also see the value of knowing which console will maintain it's value. A lot of people who buy $$$ items, worry that they might someday need to resale it, in case that they wind up needing the money.

But yeah, guys who buy up limited console & bundles, just to immediately resell them at +$100, are pretty dang scummy.

#47 Edited by Archaen (136 posts) -

I don't think Microsoft's problem is messaging. There is no messaging that will change the fact that I can't own my games on Microsoft's system and it checks in to make sure I'm not a thief. There is also no message they can come up with to explain what benefits there are to enforced always online when their competitor is offering all the same features without the downsides.

Their problem is their policies are anti-consumer and their competitors' aren't.

#48 Posted by Toug (300 posts) -

The part where you shame that eBay reseller is delightful.

#49 Posted by MichaelBach (874 posts) -

Great Q and A, thank's @alex for answering my question!

Online
#50 Posted by elitefury (51 posts) -

Great read. Seeing Alex smile has to be one of the creepiest things I have ever seen.

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