E3 is supposed to be the big annual La-La Land showcase of the top games in the game industry. For the 90s and the 2000s, this was largely true. Console games and MMOs dominated the mindshare of what the game industry was. This was a time when casual online and mobile games lived in the ghetto. No longer. Some in social think it’s reversed, but they’re just as guilty of the same hubris. To be fair, they’re on par. But does E3 realize it?
As Jon Jordan of PocketGamer.biz noticed, GREE, a company I’m not unfamiliar with, has a gigantic booth presence on the show floor. I don’t recall a social mobile company going big at E3 before, so I’m calling it a first. Certainly there were those sad, desolate Ikea-showroom-looking megabooths that Nokia dabbled with, but they don’t count. The giant GREE booth comes with a giant GREE party too. Also a first, as far as I recall. You know, I’m really becoming fond of that qualifier. It’s like when lazy bloggers add a question mark to their article titles, so they don’t have to actually support anything with, you know, facts. But I digress.
But getting back to parties. I’ve not received a single social mobile party invite for E3, except for the GREE party. It’s not that I’m a pariah, at least I hope that’s not the case. I have gotten seven other invites so far, so I’m pretty sure it’s not due to some game industry faux pas. Maybe it’s the loud floral print shirt I sometimes show up in. This is the trouble with letting my daughter select my clothes. But no, wait, we’re ruling out there being something wrong with me. Just for the sake of this point.
As for meeting requests, developers are across the board these days, and we’re still all connecting up. No developer in the traditional world is ignoring social or social mobile. They see the handwriting on the wall. They’re the real canary in the coal mine, which sounds bad because the canary dies, but you get my drift. Publishers like EA certainly has been acquiring their way into the field, and applying their brands across the new world. Even Activision is getting in on the act with Skylanders and setting Team 17 co-founder Martyn Brown to task on building out a mobile studio.
Some of you are probably wondering why I’m even asking this question. After all, E3 was created to parade big games in front of retailers for the holiday buying season. Asking if E3 is becoming social is a bit like asking if the Indianapolis 500 will start accepting horses. Except the analogy is flawed. E3 has morphed over time to represent the pinnacle of games as an industry. For the mainstream press and broader population, E3 is the main game event of the year. And as mentioned, the majors are all getting into mobile anyway. So the question stands.
Of course, it’s too early to really tell if E3 is finally social, I mean E3 2012 hasn’t happened yet. But I’d say based on early indicators, E3 will in fact acknowledge that there’s a whole other bunch of folks reaching a far larger audience with things that are actually “games.” To verify this hypothesis, I’ll try to liveblog it again. I’ve largely forgotten the trauma of liveblogging GDC, so that inhibition has already snapped. Let’s see what happens.
SF: Still undecided on whether I’m going. It’d be pretty hard to convince me that E3 is a social hub just yet. I view it as one of the last great bastions of console gaming. Still, LA is pretty nice this time of the year…