I had threatened to liveblog E3, but luckily I remembered how crazy that is to actually do. Kudos to actual journalists who do this, but then again, that’s their day job. Shawn and I are in an entirely different boat as BD guys, trying to earn a margin in the big bad world. But, that’s enough with the excuses, here instead is a summary of what I’ve seen and experienced so far.
I’m writing from the GREE booth, on my MacBook Air, connected to my iPad 3′s Verizon LTE hotspot. Everybody else here in the staff room is struggling trying to log onto the A for effort WiFi at the booth, but of course, no dice. I am magnanimously sharing my hotspot with Sho, just to keep the GREE marketing machine alive. See, $210M well-spent.
But yesterday was great. E3 doesn’t open up until 12 noon, which I think is to make sure all booths are fully armed and operational. The flipside of this is that you get to sleep in a bit, after you overdo it the night before at the UTA party. Total rookie mistake, but luckily there’s that safety net in place. The other good thing about the noon start, is that if you have an exhibitor badge, you can mosey on over to Nintendo and waltz right into the first holding pen at 11:40am, before the rest of the Miyamotovores show up. As it turns out, I wasn’t the first one to come up with this idea, and Chris Charla from Microsoft BD was there too, doing a little front door industrial espionage.
I played a virtual real world interactive video thing in the first holding pen. You can walk through several videos, turn around, and interact with objects, all based on your orientation to the Wii U tablet. The next holding pen is where the real action is. Set up as NintendoLand, there are five groups of minigames, Animal Crossing Sweet Days, The Legend of Zelda Battle Quest, Donkey Kong’s Crash Course, Takamaru’s Ninja Castle, and Luigi’s Ghost Mansion. As you play each of these, you collect a pin to add to your NintendoLand badge. Once you collect them all, you may be eligible for some additional prize, although I had to leave and didn’t stick around to find out what the complete gacha prize is.
However, the games themselves were awesome. They each used the tablet in unique ways, that were very couch coop friendly. That’s definitely Nintendo’s edge here, and it’s something that only became clear to me yesterday morning in playing the games. I wasn’t actually planning to get one until I played it. I had in the past bought every console, but stopped with the Vita. I just wasn’t seeing the point. But this was something completely different, something I think my daughter would actually get and enjoy. She never really liked Kinect, but always seemed to connect with Wii games.
I happened to bump into Shigeru Miyamoto in the outdoor concourse. We spent a few moments talking about this phenomenon. As he puts it, he’s “very hopeful that kids and families will be able to play together in new ways,” and was otherwise very modest about the prospects of the Wii U. I mentioned to him that his “Wifeometer” test that he described in his GDC keynote could be adapted here, and that I’d be applying my “Daughterometer” test to the Wii U. Ever the gentleman, he politely chuckled. Which in a nutshell cemented for me how successful this is really going to be. Every four years, Nintendo does something and names something that the press and industry feel is woefully out of step with the business. But in playing the Wii U and chatting with it’s legendary serial creator, it’s become clear to me that while Nintendo may or may not be out of step with the industry, they are 100% in step with fun. There’s always a new emerging market opportunity, and anyone can step forward to claim it. Remember how everyone counted Apple out? Well don’t count Nintendo out.
There’s other stuff at E3 too. Apparently Microsoft has a Smart Glass app, that mimics the Wii U tablet or Apple’s AirPlay. This is less interesting to me, since it’s an afterthought to other leaders. But good that they’re validating the play space. I’m hoping to check out Gearbox’s Aliens: Colonial Marines and Trion’s Defiance at some point today. But mostly, my time is given over to studio BD for GREE, now with more Funzio. I’ve had a lot of very productive meetings, although fewer than the slightly psychotic double track of 30-minute minutes completely booked through all three days, as I did when running developer outreach for EA. I have to admit I enjoyed that then, but this is nice too, to relax a bit.
On the food front, the State of Lousiana had a food truck serving free alligator sausage sandwiches, which I enjoyed immensely. I paleo’d the bun, so it was all alligator. In the GREE booth, we have various rice bowls, including my favorite, unadon, or broiled eel. I paleo’d the rice and gobbled that up too.
The evening’s parties were great. I attended Michael Pachter’s reception, which I had consistently missed every prior year, since I would hold EA Partner’s VIP dinner at the same time. But this was fantastic, all the key folks who had supported me over the years were there, and it was wonderful to catch up. Next up was the GREE party, which was also spectacular. Girl Talk performed, and pretty much everyone was dancing. I made an exception to my rule. I closed out the night at the CAA party, which was at the Association, a very cool, classic Hollywood bar, and caught up with whole other set of old friends, while making new ones. All in all, a great time.
For today, rinse and repeat. Happy E3 everyone!