I went to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this year for the first time. The event is a sprawling, industry-level spectacle with huge press conferences during the first couple of days and then a ton of booth appointments and special behind-closed-doors meetings for industry insiders and outsiders alike.
The surprising thing to me this year was the prevalence of mobile gaming across all strata of the gaming conference, from heavy hitter console makers like Microsoft to newcomers with tons of cash, like Korean-based WeMade Games. In addition to stalwart, veteran publishers like Disney, EA / Chillingo and Gree, there were iPad and iPhone games on offer from traditional console game companies like Majesco (Legends of Loot, Sci Fi Heroes), Ubisoft (Watch Dogs with cross-play to iPad, Assassin’s Creed: Utopia), and Square-Enix (Final Fantasy Dimensions).
Even Microsoft got into the act with SmartGlass, a new initiative that will let users control their Xbox consoles from their iPads, with the potential to interact on a game by game level in the near future. I’m pretty excited about this concept, to be honest.
Similarly, Sony Online Entertainment demoed Planetside 2, a massively multiplayer online first person shooter for the PC, with a killer feature: the iPad app that comes along with it. This app will let users voice chat (!!) in real time (!!!) with other faction members, access maps that are synced with live servers, and see a ton of info about weapons, armor, etc. Pretty darn slick, if you ask me.
And don’t get me started about the brobdingnagian and competing mobile publishing booths placed a small walkway apart from each other on the show floor. Juggernaut Gree had a booth bigger than many small countries, with Korean-based newcomer WeMade Games a tiny Angry Birds slingshot distance away. Ignoring the games for a moment, the two companies vied for attention with bright lights, attractively clad women, and – in Gree’s case – drink coupons for an on-site bar.
All in all, E3 was a blast, and incredibly instructive. Console makers, PC game publishers, and the folks from Japan and Korea have it figured out: iOS gaming is here to stay.