Going to E3 1999
May 11, 1999
by Red Ronin
Well, it's been a long year to wait, but the Electronic Entertainment Expo is here yet again. This year it is being held in my hometown, Los Angeles, which I really appreciate. I really liked going to Atlanta the last couple of years, but it's just nice to stay home if you can. This will be my fourth time attending the show, as I originally attended in 1996. This is the third time E3 has taken place at the Los Angeles Convention Center since its inception, this being its fifth annual showing.
This will be the first time that a new videogame system has been launched in the US for a while. Saturn and PlayStation arrived in 1995, Nintendo64 first appeared in 1996. Though other systems have been rumored many have turned out to indeed be vaporware. So there has been no M2 from Matsushita or 3DO, no graphical upgrade for Saturn, no release of 64DD for Nintendo64, and no Project VR or Nuon systems have arrived or appear on the horizon. This year though, Sega will attempt to rectify their current market position by introducing a new system, the Dreamcast, to the US public at E3.
The release of Dreamcast is bound to be the lead story throughout E3 this year, but there are actions by Sega's competitors to consider strongly as well. Sony, currently the worldwide market leader among console manufacturers, has already released preliminary specifications for their "Next Generation PlayStation". This is a machine currently scheduled to reach the US market for Fall 2000, though it has thus far only been shown in developmental form. Nintendo has been rumored for the past year to be working on a new system for release as soon as 2000 to replace Nintendo64 in Japan. Some believe that Nintendo will use this year's E3 as a venue to finally release some official information regarding their future plans. This situation has left a lot of unanswered questions regarding the videogame industry. I hope that as many as possible are appropriately asked and fully answered.
Seemingly oblivious of the impending console wars, a huge portion of the display floor at E3 will be dedicated to PC gaming. So there will be hardware demonstrations for new graphics cards and multi-featured controllers. There will be tournaments and giveaways as major chip manufacturers attempt to beg, borrow, bribe or steal customers away from competitors. There will be those booths that focus on their own version of online gaming strategies and multiplayer networking. Most present will cover the tried & true Windows/Intel environment while others will dip a toe in the waters surrounding Macintosh and Linux islands of thought.
There will be plentiful third party developers at E3 this year as always. Some will be seeking a publisher for their wares. Others will seek out new, more aggressive means of inventing the wheel. Many will find the newest ideas and advice for creating games through workshops and conferences, hoping to apply those ideals to their own business model. Most though will be showing the best they have to offer for the market they cater to, hoping that enough important people notice and spread the word.
Those developers who attend E3 will be well sought after by big name companies pledging to offer the best possible content creation systems and software development kits. So there will be constant demonstrations of high end workstations and the means to use them to full effect. Those who are suitably impressed by what they see will be obliged to fork over tens of thousands of dollars for the pleasure of using it to create their work. For some this is a small price to pay for future fame and prosperity. For others it is merely a drop in the bucket and worth every penny.
Founders and CEOs of various companies will make keynote speeches and contribute to roundtable discussions on issues that effect the videogame development community during E3. Some will be highly respected, others will be considered scoundrels. A few will be hailed as visionaries, while others are proclaimed throwbacks. All will have very specific views that may or may not have facts to back them up. In the end, much will be talked about even if very little is said.
All the above will vie for attention amongst distributors, wholesalers and retailers who operate nationwide. This is after all a trade show, which means it is indeed all about money. Everyone who attends E3 is very interested in making money, most more so than even making or playing games. Meetings will be made behind closed doors and deals that effect the entire future of gaming will be struck.
Various videogame magazines and websites will descend upon E3 armed with digital cameras and camcorders, laptop computers and notepads, hoping to get the fastest most profound data from booths all over the show floor. Never mind the fact that they all of them pretty much get the same information from the same E3 Media Center that is deluged with material from all exhibitors on hand. Each will do their best to convince you that their own "EXCLUSIVE!" information cannot possibly be found anywhere else in the world. In truth, the only thing exclusive is the presentation and style by which that information is delivered to the gaming public at large.
What am I forgetting? Oh, yes. Games. There will be hundreds of games on display at E3. It is very nice to get an early 'test drive' of titles that won't be released for months or completed for up to a year. Many who attend the show realize that most of the games will not be big hits. The grand majority of games at the show, as well as on store shelves will continue to be We all know that some games are bound to be hyped beyond belief. Despite that, we all hope that somewhere we will be able to find a single rough hewn gem that will be revealed as a precious stone among the rabble. No matter how glossy or glamorous the show may be, the fact remains that in the end the games are most important.
So sit back and relax, it's going to be a thoroughly enjoyable ride through the spectacle that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Take care, happy gaming, enjoy life!
Toyoniya Hiyaku, Noromuoy!
Red Ronin, The Cybernetic Samurai