My interests often lie in politics and the state of affairs in Northern Ireland, but one interest and hobby I never grow tired of is video games and the endless hours of entertainment and amusement provided by them. What exactly is E3 you might ask? E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), is an annual trade fair for the computer and video game industry presented by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), usually taking place in the Los Angeles Convention Centre. The major difference between E3 and events such as Gamescom for example, is that E3 is not open to the public, it is an exclusive industry- the only people who may attend are those that have some professional connection to the video game industry. In essence, it is an annual event where video game producers show off their upcoming games and where famous brand names, such as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, use the event to advertise upcoming consoles in order to compete with one another.

The emphasis on this year’s E3 has been on utilising  next-gen consoles to the highest degree when it comes to video games and to show the world that the Xbox One, PS4 and Wii U truly are the next generation in gaming technology. This has led to some incredible trailers at E3 showcasing video games with almost life-like graphics and I for one am excited about some of the upcoming titles, including Ubisoft’s Far Cry 4 and Konami’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, trailers I will link below.

However, with every good game, there will be higher and higher expectations of what can be offered to the point where some companies simply don’t care about the customer any more, but rather milking the game for as much money as they possibly can. This has led to a rise in short-story game campaigns with an emphasis on DLCs (downloadable content) which can cost as much as the price of the game itself, which most retailers sell at around $60 / £45 or so for a brand new game. This has been very obvious in companies such as EA for example, who are notorious for extra content i.e. in Battlefield 3 for example, the retail price was £40, but instead of progressing through the game online as you normally would, you could purchase every weapon and upgrade in the game for another £40, leading to unfair advantages in multi-player that didn’t give a ‘Newbie-friendly’ appeal. There have also been instances where the DLC data is actually on the disc when you purchase the original game, but still the company asks you to pay to unlock this content. As a consumer, we should assume that when you buy the disc, you are buying everything on the disc that’s included, most developers know this and place their extra content online for purchasing.

Other industries who want to milk a game for every penny it’s worth, often try to release a game with the same title every year, this commonly happens in sports games such as FIFA or NFL but has also seen a recent occurrence in action games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield. Before I go on, I’ll admit that the new versions of these games are indeed ‘new’, but a lot of the content seems to be repackaged from previous games with a little extra added on, which then showcases itself as being ‘new.’ That said, it is common practice that for a video game franchise to do well, it is only natural the company which created it spurs out more within the franchise to increase sales, but I feel that with the rise of DLCs and revamped content, they are trying to push the limits of the consumer and strain the elasticity of what video games are actually worth.

But it isn’t just about big brand names and multinational industries, there are a wide range of indie developers in the gaming industry too that have produced a wide plethora of fantastic video games. In the past few years, the genre of indie games has been very wide indeed, ranging from RPG games such as Magicka and The Binding of Issac, Horror games such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Lone Survivor, as well as just plain odd concepts for games such as Papers, Please! Where you play as a border agent in the dystopian totalitarian state of Arstotzka. Developers within the video game industry are trying to promote the new indie approach in many ways, Steam for example have utilised their Greenlight method in promoting such games, whereby players test the game for free and if they get their approval, the game will be put up complete on Steam at a set price. Of course, this system isn’t perfect however, especially if it leads to bribery and horrible games getting put out in a pre-Alpha state at best at full price i.e. Day One: Garry’s Incident, where TotalBiscuit actually had his review taken down by the company for his honest criticisms; or, the atrocity known as Ride to Hell: Retribution, which some acclaimed reviewers have scored 0.5/10 with Joe Vargas on the AngryJoeShow calling it one of ‘the worst video games of all time.’

If anything, there are high hopes to be taken out of E3 as the video game industry will continue to grow and thrive on producing content to its highest limits and the rise of indie developers not only leads to more competition within the video game industry, but also promotes innovation and new ideas in how to approach the digital world of video gaming.


References:
http://www.gamespot.com/e3/ –
Complete coverage of day 1 and onwards
http://www.ign.com/wikis/e3/Games_at_E3_2014 – Complete list of upcoming games.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfgoDDh4kE0 – Day One: Garry’s Incident (TotalBiscuit’s) review taken down
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1HTKWX15oo – Ride to Hell: Retribution review by AngryJoeShow (Joe Vargas)
http://help.ea.com/en/article/what-is-the-difference-between-battlefield-3-premium-and-battlefield-3-premium-edition/
http://steamcommunity.com/workshop/about/?appid=765&section=faq
 
– An explanation of Steam’s Greenlight system.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bIzgpIVG-Y – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain E3 trailer
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9al_k8e93I – Far Cry 4 E3 Trailer