[E3 2015] PC Gaming And Press Conference Hype

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E3 2015 is really just looking like an event where a lot of cool games will be announced. That’s what all the predictions are about right now which for some reason makes them less interesting to me. Since it’s a mid-console-generation E3 I don’t expect to see anything there suggesting upcoming fundamental changes to the medium (I don’t think VR is THAT close to be honest). One odd thing that is coming though is the PC Gaming Conference. I think a lot about PC gaming kind of goes counter to what a lot of E3 is about.

The PC conference will expectedly be about the most exciting stuff that’s only coming to PC, trumpeting the PC platform. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo annually do this with their Uncharteds, Halos, and Zeldas. PC gaming doesn’t really have those flagships, or at least not in the same manner. Microsoft’s job at E3 will be to sell me an Xbox One (likely with those first party announcements it keeps talking about. Sony’s job at E3 will be to sell me a PS4. Nintendo’s job at E3 will be to sell me a Wii U and other people a 3DS as well. I guess you could say the PC conference’s job will be to sell people on the individual games, or perhaps a slick new AMD graphics card, and Microsoft will try to sell Windows 10 up there, but I don’t think there’s going to be much to attract those not already into PC gaming.

Well before I get ahead of myself let’s remember to look back at the real original purpose of E3 — to sell software and hardware to retailers. Sony, SEGA, Nintendo, and software publishers originally went there to convince retailers to stock their products. U.S. retailers aren’t stocking PC games anymore outside Blizzard games and a few other boxes crowded into tiny shelves. I don’t think retailers are gonna be clamoring for Europa Universalis or Guild Wars. Maybe the real audience is the consumers themselves nowadays, though I’m unsure how many laymen pay direct attention to E3. Maybe some PS4 owner will be impressed at the ArmA presentation at the PC conference and start thinking about a GTX 970, but it’s a long shot.

But to the real point: PC gaming doesn’t really have anything with as much hype as Uncharted that yells “come to our platform!” PC gaming has arguably never been about that because PC gaming has never been about selling a Blockbuster hype machine to the masses. It’s always been more about selling appealing software to disparate but dedicated audiences. Some of those audiences are wide, wide enough to warrant the marketing campaign of a Blizzard game, but in my experience most of those super-popular PC games are made to run on the laptops and work desktops most people already own. They don’t have a proprietary black box to identify with. Maybe the conference will expose more people to Truck SimulatorCrusader Kings, and whatever Nexon is working on. Does the new StarCraft II expansion really need that added publicity? And does it need it at E3 when it has Blizzcon? Most of the stuff I see coming to the PC conference though seems to be for people who already own $250+ dedicated graphics cards.

The atmosphere might be different if people up there were planning to talk about systems and services that are supposed to fundamentally change PC gaming. Microsoft and Sony spend significant portions of their conferences every year talking about big changes coming to the Xbox and PlayStation platforms respectively. Valve isn’t going to be there for PC gaming. The closest thing we have is Microsoft’s plan to sell Windows 10 to PC gamers next week. We’ll see how that goes. Right now DirectX12 is is Microsoft’s biggest upcoming contribution.

Another issue when you look at the biggest PC exclusives is that they tend to occupy the last genres left you can’t really do on consoles, and most of those games generally aren’t very appealing to the people getting hyped at Sony and Microsoft conferences. The American console gamer is all about action games and sports games, and pretty much has been since the 80’s. The companies listed on the PC conference website suggest a lot of strategy games and simulation games. I don’t think the guy who get’s riled up over Uncharted 4 is gonna get just as riled up over the new Truck Simulator game. The new Truck Simulator is going to appeal to fans already way into Truck Simulator who would probably get just as hyped from watching the same trailer quietly released on a website somewhere. Maybe whatever Cliff Bleszinski and Boss Key are working on will look really cool and action-like. Maybe Star Citizen will wow a lot of people (who’ll then just scoff and say “no way I’m ever gonna have the hardware to run that game”).

As I said above, I think maybe ArmA has the best chance to draw away some of those eyes. It’s a military first person shooter which is usually one of the things that dominates E3, but it does things with its gameplay you just can’t get on consoles yet. I’m hoping at least a few people look at the undoubtedly massive new map Bohemia Interactive plans to show off and think “Wow. I want that game.”

I’m not saying I don’t think the PC conference should be held. I think there will be a lot of great content there. I just don’t think it’s going to get the same reaction as any of the console conferences. It’s probably not gonna get the same kind of hype because PC gaming hype doesn’t work that way. It’s going to get a lot of hype for people already fans of the games and franchises they’ll see there. I just don’t want to see people slamming the PC conference at the E3 awards for these differences.

BULLETS:

  • And let’s not forget: most of those live demonstrations you’ll see at the other conferences will be running on PC. Bet on it.
  • Just a reminder of how incredible Christopher Lee’s life was. http://t.co/dBQoPel6q9
  • One lesser-known game you might wanna look up during the Steam Summer Sale is Super Galaxy Squadron. Another is Snakebird.
  • Spirits of Xanadu as well.
  • And Charnel House Trilogy. That one has a demo.
  • Betrayer is a good game too. You can read my review of it on my Steam profile.
  • This looks like it might be a good iOS strategy RPG, and it’s coming out in English. http://t.co/Nyugt6Udm3
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