While many call the San Diego Comic-Con the industry’s “Nerd Prom”, E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) in LA is also known as the video game industry’s “Gaming Christmas”. Each year E3 not only begins with a series of announcements from all the major game companies, but also with a ton of high expectations from gamers themselves. E3 has always been mainly about consoles, and ten years ago, consoles were only about gaming. Hardcore gamers or “core gamers” as they are frequently called, were the most desired audience and everything catered to them.
Then the Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles ventured online, set up online networks and everything changed. Some things for the better, some for the worse. Nintendo went out and dragged an all new audience of “casual” console gamers into the spotlight, and the video game industry was altered forever.
The “core games” segment of the market, while still huge, has become somewhat of a niche market when it comes to “news-making announcements” and PR. If you are loading up an E3 presentation this week in your browser and expecting a feast of core-gaming news, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. While serious gaming veterans may turn their nose at the mention of streaming video services, premium content, mainstream franchises, and celebrity endorsed games all they like – these are all elements of the modern video gaming business now. Love it or hate it, that is the current state of the industry.
Fortunately for every soul-crushing Usher performance there’s an amazing Watch Dogs video. Gaming caters to everybody and that still includes core gamers. So don’t throw your controllers out the window every time a publisher unveils a dance game or licence that you’re not interested in.
The other trend that is prevalent at this year’s E3 is of course, the iPad though it might always be mentioned by name. Tablets are part of every developer/platform/publisher’s strategy, and there’s no argument that the iPad is the elephant in the room when it comes to gaming on a tablet. Microsoft is introducing “SmartGlass” to move its gaming initiative beyond the Xbox 360 and onto Windows 8 tablets. Nintendo has a more closed eco-system approach with the Wii U gamepads becoming eerily similar to tablets themselves. While Sony is using a different approach and is hedging its bets by integrating it’s Playstation 3 with its portable Playstation Vita and the Playstation Mobile network on Android tablets.
With so many different strategies companies are taking to make consoles offer more than just gaming in the living room and taking on the tablet market, gamers still have a lot to look forward to. For software testers, this means an unbelievable variety in apps and platforms to test. There is no slowing down in the mobile app testing market, and this week, the video game industry just poured gasoline on the bonfire.