E3 isn't all peaches and pixels.
June 23, 2010
For the uninitiated, the Electronic Entertainment Expo is a cavalcade of fascination; a pulsing, explosive beacon of lasers, smoke machines and silicone. Dreams get thrown into the spotlight, promises get made, fans cheer and millions of dollars are lit on fire. But for game developers and publishers, E3 is also a dangerous tightrope walk above a pit of embarrassment. And this year many found a creative new way to fall face-first in to it. Here are the absolute worst offenders.
5. Ubisoft's Sweaty Out-of-Breath Guy Plays Laser Tag
In a sea of revolutionary new videogame ideas and hands-free motion controllers, leave it to Ubisoft to spend ten minutes in the middle of their press conference showing us a "game" that was fun at birthday parties in 1994. Battle Tag isn't a videogame, which means you shouldn't even be reading this paragraph on this website, and I shouldn't have had to sit through that portion of their press conference. Hey Ubisoft, maybe next you can make a game about Perfect Strangers! Crap, we probably said that too loud.
4. Sony Pretends We Care About Who They're In Bed With
Kevin Butler might be the single greatest persona to ever grace the stage of a videogame press conference, but that's A) because he's a paid, professionally trained actor and B) because his competition usually ranges from "soccer mom recounting her recent ski trip" to "guy who did something upside-down at the X-Games." He's a character from Sony's hilarious and successful ad campaign, and he rocked the stage with a confident swagger unseen in the usual batch of awkward nerdy guys sputtering sales chart data. Good stuff. But having his whole bit prefaced by Sony of America CEO Jack Tretton bragging about the recent deal he cut with Coca-Cola? Yeah, that's probably a bit too much.
Congrats on convincing a carbonated beverage company to temporarily turn their bottling plant in to a PlayStation Move sticker assembly line, but as gamers, that has zero bearing on anything we care about. We don't gather all of our friends in a hall and regale tales of when we hooked up with the most notoriously trampy girls at the local bar and neither should Sony. Keep your secret handshakes and hook-ups to yourselves.
3. Microsoft Press Conference Devolves Into a Giddy Oprah TV Taping
Microsoft kicked off their formal press conference with obviously expected yet still anticipated sequels to things we already liked when they had lesser names and numbers attached to them. Gears of War, Call of Duty and Halo all prominently flashed their newest sequel thematic plastic surgeries and polygonal appendages on mega screens. But then Microsoft's gun-toting sausage party devolved into a whimsical dance of motion-controlled Kinect games, instantly alienating a hall packed with burly, unkempt manbabies (present company included) by highlighting a grueling new world of dance, pet and sport minigames, all of which are based on a videogame controller that didn't recognize thumbs.
Yet, just as we were ready to write the whole fiasco off, Microsoft announced that a new Xbox model was being shipped to stores that minute, injecting some sense of urgency into an otherwise stagnant and jaded crowd. Better yet, everyone in attendance gets one for free! It was a beautifully orchestrated magician's trick, and we all scrambled like children with birthday caps to grab our freebies. Never mind the reports that Kinect might have some issues with seated players. Or that your pet Kinectimal can't recognize your hands unless you violently air-grab it. Or that pretty much any game that any of us has played in the last two decades won't work properly on this thing. Free Xbox, you say? Put it in our hands and we'll cheer like horny tweens in the front row of the new Twilight flick, tossing problems to the wind. Ellen, we're all yours now.
2. The Creator of Legend of Zelda Can't Play Legend of Zelda
Blame cell phone interference, George W. Bush and BP, but the bottom line is, Shigeru Miyamoto pretty much spent 20 minutes at Nintendo's E3 struggling to play Nintendo's latest Zelda title. Technical difficulties meant his Wii remote's IR sensor looked like it was having a seizure the whole time, making Shiggy way off on even the simplest of sword slashes and attacks. It didn't help that Skyward Sword in general looked unprepared for its big stage debut, with a bland and minimal demo forest that featured nothing but two enemies and a tree. It was a dark moment for a franchise that otherwise thrives on being polished and gloriously presentable.
1. Microsoft Humiliates and Shames a Stadium Full of Gamers
We flew in to Los Angeles on the Sunday before E3, giddy with excitement and anticipation. Why were we there on Sunday when the actual show didn't start until Tuesday, you ask? Because Microsoft had a magical and highly secretive Kinect unveiling to wow us with. We anxiously lined up around the block to enter their mystical arena of hands-free enlightenment. Two hours later we emerged dizzied, baffled and shamed. What happened during that time was a horror that few will tell the tale of, but it involved Microsoft forcing us to wear shimmering white space muumuus while Cirque Du Soleil contortionists molested each other on a ramp covered in plastic ferns. Whitewashed families hung from couches in the rafters and pristine living rooms full of happy children rotated in the distance. Flower petals grew from our once hairy chests, a Pantera album bonfire erupted from the center of the room and every maternal unit in America found a testicle to crush. It was nothing short of terrifying and no one in attendance will ever, ever fully cleanse themselves.
See you all next year!