Who Won E3 2011? Microsoft vs. Sony vs. Nintendo

Technology, Video Games

E3 2011, June 6-9, presented by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) for the video gaming industry.

E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo

In a slight departure from our normal kinds of posts, I unveil the winner of E3 2011. Each year the “Big 3” companies, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, hold a press conference, and each year one is crowned as winning E3. Some years there are clear-cut winners or losers. Nintendo had back-to-back the 2 worst conferences ever at E3 in 2008 & 2009. They bounced back last year, in 2010, and were the best in show. Microsoft was easily the winner of E3 2008 with perhaps the biggest announcement in the history of E3, that Final Fantasy XIII would be on the Xbox 360.

So, who won E3 2011?

Did Microsoft Win E3?

Microsoft got the ball rolling with the first press conference on June 6 at 9:30 am PST. I can sum up their whole press conference in a few words, yawn, Kinect, ho-hum, sleep inducing, Kinect, wait, did I say Kinect? Oh, and Halo 4, but not until holiday 2012. Only 1 press conference down, and I can already say, Microsoft did not win E3 2011.

They started their press conference with 8 minutes of cool footage from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. But with this being a multi-platform game, the exclusive being that DLC comes out first for the 360 and later for other platforms, it’s not the best thing to start your presentation with. Especially that the Battlefield 3 footage blows CoD:MW3 out of the water! Anyway, check out the full 8 minutes of Modern Warfare 3 below.

We were then lead into Crystal Dynamics new Tomb Raider reboot, which again looked good, but again is yet another multi-platform game with nothing really exclusive to the 360. The art style, emotion, animation & cinematic quality really amazed me, however, guess what, you can also play it on your PS3 or PC, another odd choice to showcase the 360 with.

E3 2011 Tomb Raider

From there, we moved into Peter Moore & what would become the “star” of the show… Kinect. From here on out, everything was about how you can play your games with Kinect. Forgive me oh 360 fanboys, but with Nintendo unveiling it’s Wii successor tomorrow, Kinect just seems like a last ditch effort to win over the casual fanbase. However, it’s the hardcore audience & gaming press who are interested in E3, so why cater to the casual audience who most likely care nothing about our beloved conference?

Mass Effect 3’s voice commands through Kinect are kinda cool, but really seem like a superficial add-on. Then, despite them telling me the Kinect allows Ghost Recon: Future Soldier to be played in ways a regular controlled cannot, all I found myself thinking was everything they did was just as easy to do, and probably more precise, with a regular controller. Fable the Journey took an open world ambitious game and put it on rails with waggle control. Star Wars Kinect will make you flail around in your dorm or living room and look like a wild man, while you “play” a game on rails. While the premise of Ryse sounded cool at first, in ended up being yet one more fraking Kinect game on rails! Back in the 1980s I loved Dragons Lair, but it was the animation & chance to play an arcade game for more than 90 seconds that appealed to me back then. I don’t need casual gaming style where any old flailing around or waggling my fist or a controller sort-a guides my on screen companion. Enough with the Kinect already.

E3 2011 Halo 4

In the end, the only good exclusives we got from Microsoft this year were: Gears of War 3, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Forza Motorsport 4, and the wonderful indy title  Minecraft! I doubt I’ll play through the original Halo again, even modernized, but the other 3 do have me excited. The other interesting announcement from Microsoft was that Live TV was coming to the 360. We don’t know exactly what that will be or details yet, but it sounds like you might be able to replace your cable with it.

E3 2011 Forza Motorsports 4

Did Sony Win E3?

It’s hard to imagine any other press conference this year would be worse than Microsoft’s, and Sony satisfied the gaming audience with a great presentation. Even though they started over 15 minutes late, Sony started things off right. Jack Tretton, SCEA CEO, gave a heartfelt apology about the PSN outage, and apologized to the gamers, the third party developers and everyone else except the press, to whom they said, “You’re welcome,” for all the news they gave them. A little humor in dark times is always welcome. I truly felt Jack’s apology, and applaud Sony for handling everything exactly the way they should. Also, a big thanks to Sony for the welcome back gifts they bestowed upon everyone on the PSN.

E3 2011 Uncharted 3 Drake's Deception

So, how to you start to win an E3 press conference? With awesome exclusive titles that get the games excited, so on with Uncharted 3 Drake’s Deception. Yet another awesome looking Uncharted title, from those incredible Naughty Dog developers. It looks like we’re getting yet another big leap up in graphical quality from the second in the Uncharted series, which is very welcome. Then follow this up with more wonderful exclusive titles like Insomniac’s Resistance 3 in 3D! In complete contrast to both Kinect and the Move, which in many ways hamper gameplay with imprecise controls and waggle, 3D only adds to the gaming experience by adding depth the the same game you’re already playing, and best of all, is simply a feature that can easily be turned on or off.

E3 2011 Resistance 3

So already 20 minutes into Sony’s press conference I feel they’ve already won E3 over Microsoft by a landslide, and there’s surely more to come. And sure enough, Sony brought out none other than Kobe Bryant to demo NBA 2K12. A slight departure to the Move’s new kid-friendly game Medieval Moves Deadmund’s Quest, and then we’re back onto the good stuff with a new Sly Cooper game and Dust 514 that somehow is going to exist in the same server & universe with the MMO Eve Online. I’m intrigued. After starting off with a bunch of exclusive titles, Sony moved onto some multi-platform games like Bioshock Infinite and for every one, seemed to have some big exclusive announcement with each. Like the original Bioshock game also being on the disc, or Battlefield 1943 full game being on the disc with Battlefield 3. Microsoft takes notes here, showcase multi-platform games when you have something exclusive to go with it.

E3 Sly Cooper

Perhaps Sony’s biggest announcement of the whole conference was the NGP (next generation portable) has been officially named the Playstation Vita. Even before this announcement it was pretty clear that Sony won E3 over Microsoft already. The Vita will feature dual analog sticks, dual touchpads (the front screen, and the back of the handheld), and six-axis motion control. I’ve never really wanted to buy a PSP before, but now the Vita has me very interested. i thought the developers really showed off the power of the Vita with demonstrations of Uncharted Golden Abyss, Ruin (which utilized cloud saves to be able to play on the Vita or PS3 from exactly where you left off seamlessly), LittleBigPlanet, and ModNation Racers.

E3 2011 PS Vita

As I’m writing this on Tuesday morning, it’s still many hours away from Nintendo’s press conference, but unless they really impress like they never have before, I’m calling this already. Sony won E3 2011!

Did Nintendo Win E3?

Perhaps I spoke too soon, Nintendo starting off E3 with The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary and a full symphonic orchestra is a brilliant move! Much like Square Enix, Nintendo is known for their musical scores in games. Sign me up for the Zelda concert. Zelda Skyward Sword, Links Awakening, Four Swords & 3D will certainly bring smiles to many gamers. That’s a lot of Links. Not only that, you can get the special gold Zelda Wii-mote. Now, I like the Zelda series, but did we really need 20 minutes of just Zelda?

E3 Zelda 25th Anniversary

All in all though, a great start to a press conference & an opening bid to take the E3 win from Sony. If only I actually played games on the Wii as much as the 360 or PS3. It just never seems to hold my interest long. Satoru Iwata is already making me not like this press conference, I don’t need more casual gaming with imprecise controls & on-rails gameplay.

E3 Nintendo Press Conference

Onto the 3D presentation of a montage of all our favorite characters including Star Fox & Mario, however this all looked like pre-rendered CG, and no gameplay. Come on Reggie Fils-Aime, it’s time to bring on the good stuff. However, I have a feeling that we’re in for a whole casual gaming experience Nintendo press conference. Personally, I have no desire to own a 3DS, especially when the PS Vita graphics looked near-PS3 quality in a handheld. Mario Kart, Star Fox, Kid Icarus, Luigi all on the 3DS. Great for many consumers, just not for me.

E3 Luigi's Mansion 2

Nintendo has always suffered from a lack of great 3rd party titles, so lets hope this year is different. However, the montage of titles Reggie introduced does nothing to excite me for Nintendo gaming, perhaps Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D being the most interesting of the bunch. 45 minutes into the presentation, and still the most exciting announcement has been the world tour of the Zelda symphony. Perhaps if I was 12 years-old again, I’d be hyped about all the 3DS titles & Pokemon. But I’m not, and Reggie is making the press conference sucktacular.

E3 Nintendo Wii U

Maybe the new console will bring this around. And now we know what the new console is named… Wii U. Umm, ok, We-You. Reggie unveiled the controller for the Wii U, which looks much like a cross between an iPad and a PSP or PS Vita, just white. At least it seamlessly switched between TV & handheld as one unit. I don’t see the new Wii U changing my gaming habits any. The graphics don’t look like a new generation, it looked pretty similar to 360/PS3 quality. Perhaps it will turn out to be better, but I’m betting it’s not. The Wii (and Wii U when I get one) will mostly just continue to collect dust in-between family visits & regular gaming on the 360/PS3. It’ll probably be another casual gaming hit from Nintendo though.

E3 Wii U Controller

There could certainly be some interesting things to come with utilizing both screens & the new controller, however, this is all future speculation and as far as who wins E3, speculation for the future doesn’t count. And for future news, Smash Brothers will be made for both 3DS & Wii U, but just a mention with no graphics or gameplay shown doesn’t really count as a true announcement in my mind.

And now in Nintendo’s retro-ization of E3 we’re degrading from showing in-game footage to showcasing rendered CG scenes. Did they learn nothing of Sony’s fiasco when introducing the PS3 & not being able to deliver on the CG quality? Killzone anyone? We all figured the PS3 was not going to be able to deliver compared to the initial CG scenes shown at E3. I’d say it’s pretty safe to say Nintendo’s CG won’t materialize in the same quality of graphics in-game.

E3 Wii U CG Cutscene

Nintendo’s whole conference can be summed up in 3 words, Zelda, disappointment & speculation. While the idea of the new controller & console sound interesting, speculation doesn’t win E3. Sorry Nintendo, you lost E3, but you did come in second.


Who Won E3 2011? Sony Won E3!

I got it right the first time before today’s conference, Sony won, and I say that as mainly a Xbox 360 fanboy. I own all 3 consoles & predominately purchase for & play on the 360.

Do you have a differing opinion? I’d love to hear your comments on why I’m wrong.


Satoru Iwata

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