E3 doesn't just afford us - the media - the opportunity to check out which upcoming games are looking hot, it also serves as a great indicator of trends and gives us the chance to view the bigger picture within the gaming industry. Here we cover the most prevalent themes that emerged from this year's event.
Everyone wants to go mass-market
While Sony can probably lay claim to being the first publisher to truly embrace lifestyle gaming with breakout titles like EyeToy: Play, SingStar and Buzz, 2007 is the year that Nintendo and Microsoft made (or continued in Nintendo's case) their claim for attracting gamers beyond the traditional young male demographic.
For Microsoft, this meant the thieving of Sony's Buzz - an Xbox-styled four button quiz controller used to play movie trivia game Scene It and a mini-game spin-off of Viva Pinata, Party Animals (whichtookcenter-stageat the Microsoft E3 press briefing) both explicitly targeted at supposed holiday season family gatherings. Ambitious? Maybe - surely most 360s will be tied up withHalo 3 around then?
Nintendo's continued quest to turn women and young girls into console users went as far as a game that isn't really a game. Come on... since when did keeping fit start being fun? Especially when it involves balancing on a plastic box and having your Mii represent your bloody Body Mass Index. We don't need our Wii telling us we're overweight as well.
It didn't stop withWii Fitthough - further life improvement offerings nearly outweighed actual games with Vision Training (for your eyesight),Brain Age 2(for the noggin) and Nintendo Crossword (for the over 60s). To think once Nintendo was seen as the hardcore choice of console.
Sony's success in getting the PS2 under the noses of girlfriends and sisters with the SingStar serieswill be spreading tothe PS3 version - and while EyeToyis yetto reallybrake out globally, we're guessing the card-basedEye Of Judgmentcombined with the newPS Eye will fix this. Meanwhile, you can't write off the potential of Buzz combined with the PSNetwork: downloadable question sets, HD footage, online quiz battling, a newly designed controller... we're almost writing the press release.
Why all this interest in the mass-market? It's simple. Us gamers already buy games and consoles and will continue to do ad infinitum. In order to sell more consoles and games the "big three" are going after the wider audience who used to sniff at our maligned hobby.
Shane Kim, general manager of Microsoft Game Studios puts it rather succinctly: "Part of our strategy is we want to win this generation and in order to do that we have to expand beyond the core gamer audience that we've had success with and that means appealing to the broad consumer market." Get ready for a million third-party Wii Fit spin-offs.