PC Gamers don't get to watch a glitzy press conference at E3. We don't get a PR firm to pump millions into glossy stage shows, or detailed press releases. We don't even get a mascot. But we do get incredible games, and a steady stream of hardware innovations that let the PC leapfrog the opposition. Here's why the PC was the real victor at E3.
The best games at E3 in my opinion? Start with The Old Republic , then move to Crysis 2 . Finish up with Civilization 5 . Yeah - they're all PC staples. But they show a level of polish and grace that has been sorely missing from PC gaming for years. The Old Republic, my pick for game of the show, is insane - it's a monstrously well produced MMO that combines Dragon Age style storytelling with the open world questing of World of Warcraft. And every MMO staple system in-between. The Civilization 5 presentation was a perfectly produced snapshot of an experienced development house tuning their best work.
But it's not just about PC exclusives. There are, at best, just a couple of console exclusives that aren't available on PC. But everything else - absolutely everything else - incredible games like Deus Ex , XCOM , and Call of Duty, will arrive on our platform, with better, smoother graphics, smarter online support, for lower cost, and playable at your convenience on as many machines as you own through digital download platforms. PC gaming's victory seems like a no brainer.
There's no question about how far Crytek have come in their art design for Crysis 2. The precision and detail in their recreation of New York under attack is startling. Their demo was set in and around a pixel perfect version of Grand Central Station that was smashed to pieces by stompy robots, falling skyscrapers, and a player's rocket launcher. We've seen the game running on multiple platforms now - and, yeah, it looks great on Xbox and PS3. But it looks stunning on PC.
Then there's Rage - the base game for Id Software's latest tech. It looked superb at a Jon Carmack mandated 60 frames per second. But all I could think about while watching the 360 demo was 'god, how good is this going to look on PC?'
The nice thing about PC gaming? There's always somewhere out there looking to innovate and surpass what's already available. At E3, that level of innovation was everywhere. If you wanted motion controls, Razer showed the press a prototype of a motion controller more accurate, and more responsive than the Wii remote and Playstation Move. If you wanted to 3D gaming, you could play all your current catalogue in 3D using Nvidia's already in place tech.
But it was online where the innovation was most apparent. OnLive used the show to launch their games-on-demand cloud streaming service - in which you can play high-end games on low-end hardware. While the consumer rental costs currently seem fierce - you can't argue with the convenience and power of their technology. What's more: Onlive is already up and running right now in California. World domination awaits.
Microsoft's misplaced obsession with growing the market for the Xbox has taken a wrong turn. Throwing millions of dollars of capital into an $150 webcam, in the hope that all the mothers and daughters that bought a Wii will buy into the XBox dream just isn't going to work. The cost just don't make sense.
In that respect, the PC has already won. Practically everyone already owns a laptop, and those laptops are the primary infection route for viral, free, gaming. Free PC games were everywhere at E3 - from casual, fun-fare from guys like Playfish, and Zynga, to multi-million dollar hardcore titles like Lord of the Rings Online and Company of Heroes Online . While Microsoft attacks the casual space with expensive hardware - smart PC developers are making their fortune with free games that can be played on the same hardware you browse the web with.
This is the reality of today's gaming market: Sony and Microsoft chase Nintendo's tail with increasingly arcane hardware. While PC developers, quietly clean up online. E3 was the same exactly the same story. But no-one ever declares the PC the winner of E3. Until now.