E3 Expectations and 2011
There's something strange about 2011 and videogames. I can't tell if it's one of the best years for gaming in a while, or one of the least interesting.
On the one hand, a lot of hugely influential games seem to be hitting the shelves right now. Portal 2 and The Witcher 2 have just hit, and Duke Nukem Forever, Deus Ex, Skyrim and possibly even Diablo 3 are right around the corner. To some people these are some of the most important titles in the industry.
On the other hand, everything else seems to be falling apart. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have spent the last year doing nothing but plug their various motion controls to expand their demographics, leaving more serious gamers extremely unenthused. Sony's Playstation Network is continuing to have unprecedented down time and faced concerns that may threaten the entire Playstation brand. All three companies are expected to spend their year pushing their expensive console peripherals even further, while skirting around the increasingly urgent issue of next generation hardware.
Then I realized: 2011 is a great year for videogames. It is the year of the PC gamer. While console releases and development have gotten increasingly uninteresting across the board, the PC has built a small but extremely strong library of ultra popular games. Steam has gained enormous attention with it's huge sales and ARG events, and it and other D2D services have begun to sell their large library of games for so cheaply that the PC has, for the first time, become a budget entertainment option.
If the big three have any surprises up their sleeves I will be happy to see them. But if they live up to the expectations this year and continue their course, then I will welcome that too. After this expo, we may much more clearly see whether consoles as we know them will still exist next generation.