If history has taught us anything, it’s that we are months away from the next exciting mobile phone hardware announcement that is sure to spur a new wave of articles that spell the end of console video gaming as we know it.
But there was a glimmer of hope over the weekend that console games are not doomed forever.
Across the ocean there’s a city called San Diego where every year, tens of thousands of nerds, geeks and internet gods meet up to talk everything nerdiverse. Comic-Con International is the largest comic and geek culture convention in the world and amongst the sea of super heroes, anime cosplay and autographs from people the masses have never heard about, there were some video game announcements floating around.
One of the biggest (if not the biggest) was from a little publisher called Sega, best know for the immortal Sonic the Hedgehog series which, unsurprisingly was the theme of the company’s “Sonic Boom 2012” conference held on Friday.
It is here where Sega surprised a sea of video game fans with the announcement that Sonic Adventure 2 will be launching onto Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network this holiday season.
The teaser trailer loaded on the massive stage screen with some familiar music. Text pointed out how Sega were the “masters of secrecy” – that they rarely have any video game information leaks (which was actually a dig at themselves, since the game was accidentally displayed on the Xbox website before the announcement). Then, with one logo and without a hint of gameplay footage, the crowd went absolutely crazy.
But Sega weren’t announcing a new game; Sonic Adventure 2 was originally released on the now retired Sega DreamCast back in 2001. It was then adapted to Nintendo GameCube a year later with some minor improvements.
11 years after the release, the game isn’t exactly ground breaking. Even an HD makeover will probably not eliminate the game’s outdated gameplay style and glitchy camera (but here’s hoping). Sonic Adventure 2 is a great game; don’t get me wrong – but the reaction from the crowd (above) was something to behold and was in stark contrast to the huge amount of negativity regarding console-bound video games.
Today, it’s “cool” to point out how video game consoles are ageing, how iPhones and tablets are the way of the future. And yet, we have a room full of video gamers going wild over a re-re-release of a game that will only appear on consoles.
There was a time where most, if not all, video game announcements were complimented with the loud nerd screams you heard above.
In 2006, the ESA (the guys who organise E3) decided that they would scale back the show and open it only to “video game industry professionals” – and then only by invitation. Tens of thousands of bloggers and real video game fans were removed from the show, bringing the attendance down from almost 70,000 in 2006 to just 10,000 in 2007, and half that in 2008.
Since most invited were the biggest media organisations, very little sparked the excitement of the previous years. A Zelda game announcement in 2004 brought the entire room to man tears – a second Zelda game announcement in 2010 was received with silence, followed by polite applause. The ESA had changed the format back to its pre-2007 roots in 2009, but the vibe had changed and what was previously a fan celebration (whether or not it was intended to be) turned into a bunch of boring press conferences that confused journalists with flashing lights.
But the Sonic Adventure 2 fan reaction has given us all a candid glimpse of the excitement levels in video games today in 2012. It’s real; this industry might have to adapt a little to the change in the market, but there’s still enough fans out there who still get a kick out of these things.
It’s a little hard to gauge fan reaction through the lens of the media – especially when the likes of Tim Cook receive a standing ovation by invite-only journalists simply by walking on stage without the bosses of Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo getting the same outpouring of love from the first second – but I think it is safe to say that the gaming army is a strong one and that regardless of how many versions of Angry Birds is released, those gamers will always support well made, engaging games and the consoles those games were made for.
What are your thoughts regarding recent game announcements and the reactions by the attending crowds?