All week long, we’ve been inundated with E3 news. Livestreams of million-dollar presentations,hundreds of game demo videos, countless press releases, and a show floor packed with people tweeting and posting posting pictures.
I was at the show and have posted my thoughts on what it was like from a PC gamer’s perspective (check out Day 1 and Day 2). PC gaming felt overlooked, even purposefully neglected at times, during the biggest gaming event of the year. But the more I thought about it, the less it bothered me.
Maybe E3 isn’t a PC gamer’s convention anymore, and maybe that’s okay. The PC doesn’t need million-dollar press conferences to stay alive or to win “the next console war.” PC gaming has done just fine for decades without a massive corporation pouring dump-trucks of money into advertising for it.
There’s some amazing stuff happening in the PC space, and a lot of it actually was at E3--you just had to work a little harder to find it. Nestled up in a quiet meeting room on the second floor, EVE Online creators CCP showed off a side project two of their developers made in their free time. Dubbed EVR, their pet project was a space-sim deathmatch game built for the Oculus Rift, the amazing new virtual reality headset Carmack was pitching at E3 last year.
EVR is a just a vertical slice--a technical demo that shows working gameplay with very little content or features to supplement it. But the core gameplay was elegant and simple: fly with the gamepad’s joysticks, fire with triggers, and look around and target missiles with your headset display.
I’ve never been a big fan of virtual reality, but my 10 minutes with EVR made me a believer in the Oculus Rift. The colors were crisp, the immersion level much more impacting than I expected (with no resulting motion sickness), and the headset was so comfortable, even while wearing glasses, that I didn’t think about it once during the entire demo.
The most amazing part was that the CCP devs were constantly surprised at just how excited people go when playing EVR. I asked if they planned to make it into a full game, and the devs just smiled and said, “We certainly hope so.” They were humble geniuses, just focused on making games they love to play.
These small, quiet meeting rooms is where I found the best of PC gaming: Cryptozoic’s ambitious TCGMMO Hex, Trion Worlds’ existing and upcoming MMOs, and Riot Games’ eSports and player behavior teams each had their own little oasis carved out upstairs, away from the blasting music and crowds below.
I may have gotten bored in less than an hour just wandering the show floor, but I could’ve spent hours in these little meeting rooms on the side, seeing all the exciting, experimental stuff PC gaming is doing.
And that’s why it doesn’t really bother me that E3 is a console gamer’s show now. They can keep their gigantic booths, hour-long presentations, and cheesy marketing gimmicks. Meanwhile, PC gaming will continue innovating and experimenting with new game styles and mecahnics, without the crippling control of console developers’ approval processes or required DRM on all games.
So let the consoles keep their overglitzed show floor and the marketing hype that it generates. Instead, PC gaming will continue focusing its energies in the same place it always has: creating incredible new and unique experiences in gameplay that can’t be found anywhere else.
Josh Augustine is a connoisseur of online games in the MMO, MOBA, and RPG style. He currently works as a game designer at Sony Online Entertainment on EverQuest. He’d love to talk with you on Twitter.