The final numbers are in and 60,000 people attended this year's show. It was crowded, but it definitely didn't seem as crowded as last year, which had over 70,000 attendees. You couldn't walk from booth to booth in the South Hall last year.
I think one thing that's changed in that time is the accessibility of the show floor to consumers via the Internet. E3Insider.com attracted 1.5 million consumer visits over the three days. You can get all of the press conference videos on that site. And that's just one site. Gamespot.com, IGN.com, Gametrailers.com, MTV.com, G4TV.com and others were streaming feeds and video online, and G4 was broadcasting much of the show live.
In many ways, except for the behind-closed-door meetings, consumers now get better access to the games by not being on the crowded show floor than some attendees and journalists who are. From game trailers to developer interviews to live press conferences, E3 is instantly available for anyone for free. That's on top of the daily blogs you've been reading here.
It wasn't long ago -- last year really -- that information would be revealed at the end of a press conference. Now blogs update things by the minute and streaming technology allows gamers to watch the action unfold in real time -- and they don't get stuck for an hour in the Sony Pictures parking lot. It's appropriate that technology -- the driving force in gaming -- has opened the annual trade show to anyone with a PC.
Traditionally, the last day of the show is quieter than the first two, as many people bolt early because they're burned out or are trying to get home for the weekend. This year seemed like it was about as busy as yesterday at the noisy South Hall. I spent the day there catching up on games I had missed over the first two days.
Sometimes it's nice to just get your hands on the demos out in the booth, rather than getting stuck for 30 minutes on one game behind closed doors. I was impressed by a lot of the third-party games I saw today. I visited Sega, Namco Bandai, Konami, Capcom, D3, NcSoft, Vivendi Games, Sony Online Entertainment, D3 Publishing, Square Enix, 2K Games and Eidos.
I spent some time on Sega's PS3 game, Full Auto 2. The game's still early, so I didn't notice much of a difference between this game and the Xbox 360 original. I enjoyed blowing things up in the original. Konami's Hellboy is yet another cool next gen comic book game - -this one is being done with the help of "Hellboy" movie director Guillermo del Toro. Fans of Dance Dance Revolution will see a ton of new games this year, including Xbox 360, PS2, Xbox, stand-alone devices and mobile phones.
I saw a very cool and original PSP game at D3 Publishing called Dead Head Fred, which has the quirky feel of the old Grim Fandango LucasArts PC game. In this game, your character's head has been stolen, so your corpse goes around decapitating others and using their heads -- each with special powers. The game's campy and innovative gameplay was promising -- just what the PSP needs.
Capcom had two great Xbox 360-exclusive games on display. Dead Rising is basically the Japanese publisher's campy, Mature-rated take on the recent remake of George A Romero's "Dawn of the Dead." The action mostly takes place in a mall overrun by zombies. Another cool game is Lost Planet, which is an action sci-fi title set on a frozen planet inhabited by creatures. Both of these original games seemed to seamlessly blend story with fun arcade action.
I heard some people complaining about the new Madden game. They didn't think the new game's focus on the running game brought enough new to the table. The one bad thing about any monopoly is that it doesn't allow competitors to push to innovate. The NBA and NHL allow such competition, and 2K Games had some very impressive playable Xbox 360 sports games on display. At first glance, these games look like you're watching a TV broadcast.
NASCAR fans were left in the dark at the EA booth. There was only a single PSP game on display, and PR reps were tight-lipped when asked if the game was coming to next gen this year. I imagine there will be new games this year, but E3 wasn't the chosen venue to debut them.
Gamers have plenty of good games heading to whichever console or portable they own. And there are more resources out there than ever before to make sure that the games you spend your hard-earned money on are worth the investment. Nintendo takes my vote for most impressive showing this year with its wonderful Wii, followed by Microsoft and its strong Xbox 360 lineup and Xbox Live offerings. Sony comes in third with its expensive PS3 and lack of killer apps.
I'm glad the shows come to a close. Although it was a bit quieter and less crowded than last year, it's still a grueling three days. I'm looking forward to the day when we can experience E3 virtually from the comfort of our homes. That may not very far in the future.
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Posted by: Ijo | May 14, 2006 4:21 AM
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