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naia-the-gamer avatar 4:16 PM on 07.14.2008  (server time)
Microsoft Press Conference Impressions: Naia is on her Soapbox Edition

I know I have been scarce on the blogs lately. I’ve had some personal stuff that has distracted me from coming up with interesting things to talk about, but in light of E3, I’m feeling compelled to get on my soap box once more.

I think in my “older” (but not old) age my interests have obviously changed. Something that’s pretty and in HD isn’t going to wow me, but needs more substance. I found myself overall bored by Microsoft’s press conference in that they showed a lot of games with little enthusiasm that was present in previous E3’s. I’m not a big shooter fan, so games like Gears of War 2 and Fallout 3 do nothing for me. When the right shooter comes along (Bioshock) then I’m willing to try it and enjoy it, but it’s not my thing per se. What didn’t help is that when Microsoft showed their “hardcore” games in the first portion of the conference they couldn’t have looked less excited to show their wares. This is still E3, right?

One thing that bothered me was Microsoft’s unabashed attempt to emulate the Wii. I’m surprised the rumored motion controller didn’t debut on stage. The use of avatars doesn’t do anything more for me than Mii’s do and it seems like nothing more than a “mii-too” gesture. Even the trailer for Scene It was a page from Nintendo’s marketing department. What Microsoft doesn’t seem to realize is that the reason why Nintendo has done well this generation is more than just the features that appeal to everyone, but that the GAMES themselves are good. Say what you want about Nintendogs, but it’s a great puppy sim. It’s well made and intuitive. The other ones don’t compare. I feel like Microsoft is in that same boat. Maybe one day they will prove me wrong and make compelling software that rivals Wii Sports, but until then this was painful to watch.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the Microsoft press conference was a failure. In fact it was far from it. I’m excited for Portal on XBLA, netflix, the incredible Rock Band 2 list, the and the bevy of RPG’s coming. I may even try Banjo 1 when it comes out on arcade (I know I fail for having never played any of the games). What’s happened is the dissipation of the spark of E3. The focus is much more reserved and on the mainstream market. This is both a good thing and a bad thing depending on how well they still continue to cater to the hardcore market as well as the casual. The software lineup shows that they do, but everything about their attempts in the casual market have seemed forced and contrived.

I don’t want to have this be a downer. E3 has changed a lot in the last two years and the conferences perhaps reflect that change. I worry that E3 is losing the spark it once had for the gaming public. It’s no longer that “Christmas for gamers” we once had. The surprises are more spread out.

And the internet exploding over FFXIII is incredibly entertaining.

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