If you're at E3 to cover PC titles, your job is going to be at once easier and harder. You can go up to, say, Vivendi Universal's booth, which is a "booth" in the same sense that Asia is "a few acres", and ask to see their PC titles. They'll explain that of the 38 things they're showing, only 6 are exclusive to the PC. Ah, that's easy.
But not so fast. It gets messier if you consider that in many instance, the PC is regarded as simply one of four platforms, so you'll see a lot of games that are coming out on the Xbox and the Playstation 2 and the PC. There's crossover galore, with platforms bleeding into each other so that just because someone's demoing a game with an Xbox controller, that doesn't mean it's an Xbox game. It's enough to make a guy long for simpler days when console was console and PC was PC and only occasionally would the twain meet in some ill-conceived port that could be safely ignored because no one was ever going to buy it. But for every omni-platform stinker like LucasArts' Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, there are potential omni-platform spectacles like Ubi Soft's Prince of Persia. The industry is making it harder for us to make a PC/console distinction when we talk about games. This year's E3 drove that point home at every major booth.
Tom likes making new words
And while all the platforms are hybridding into each other, the genres are being winnowed down. Apparently, there are exactly two kinds of games now: World War II themed first person shooters and massively multiplayer online RPGs. If there's anything else showing, it must have been relegated to Kentia Hall with the lonely Korean companies selling their shiny mouse pads and porno DVDs.
It's obvious the MMOs are the highest risk projects, but they're also the highest potential reward for publishers who would love nothing more than for you to buy their game and then pay them a monthly subscription fee. So this year companies were particularly eager to show their MMOs. It's as if every booth had a mandate passed down from on high: "Whatever you do, if anyone walks up with a media badge, make sure you show him that massively multiplayer thing we're doing!" The MMO displays were big and loud and staffed with buxom women in dopey costumes, all as a way of shouting 'Hey, look at me!’