#17: Expecting to fly

Why are you all complaining? Nothing happened yesterday! Those days are the best. You can wander away from the convention center for a bit, maybe see what one of the most glamorous cities on the planet has to offer beyond the fading carpets of the show floor. Go up to Griffith Observatory and sweat a lot. Find somewhere with functioning WiFi and good AC, and drink beer out of an actual glass. Spend three hours in a posh shopping mall and only realise on the way out that you’re still wearing your E3 lanyard, titsy Atlus insert and all. Eat something green! At the very least, treat yourself to a nice sit down.

Even in its best years, E3 starts with a bang and ends with a whimper. Both those of us lucky enough to make the pilgrimage each year, and those that tune in from home, have grown accustomed to its traditional rhythm. The buzz of the build-up; the flurry of hype around the press conferences; the hands-on reports and interviews once the show opens its doors; then a slow, sad fade away to nothing. On site, there’s a striking difference between the start of E3 proper on Tuesday, when there’s a constant crush and a mad scramble to take it all in, and Thursday, the final day of the show, when the floor is all but empty. Everyone’s seen what they need to see, and most people will be on the plane home by sunset.

One of the reasons this not-E3 has gone over so poorly in general is the change it has made to that predictable rhythm: our E3 body clocks are all out of whack. Another is, of course, the pandemic. Yet a major culprit is one of the game industry’s most frequent, and most avoidable mistakes: a failure to properly set expectations. When players are promised a week-long celebration of games, with a schedule packed with publisher and platform-holder livestreams and little context on what they will contain, they are naturally going to assume that all of them will be exciting. They figure that, if Capcom has half an hour on the schedule, it will spend that half an hour announcing bangers.

The game industry runs on the twin engines of secrecy and hype, and the two have a relationship that is as problematic as it is complementary. It allows speculation to flourish, and expectations to go unchecked. That is always likely to end in disappointment, yet as an industry and a community we always seem surprised when it comes to pass. Capcom could hardly have come out and said ‘Just to warn you, we’ve not got much’ in advance of its E3 presentation, because then no one would have watched it. And in fairness, it did have something — quite a lot, in fact, for Monster Hunter fans, Ace Attorney lovers, and the millions of people who bought and enjoyed Resident Evil Village. It just didn’t have the Viewtiful Joe remaster I crave; the P.N.03 sequel a pal has been dreaming of for years; or Rival Schools 3, or Street Fighter VI, or whichever fantasy Capcom game flutters idly between the temples of everyone tuning in.

That, or a variant of it, happens every year. Yet it feels worse at not-E3 2021 because of the way it has been structured into this relentless, week-long festival of… not much. A sort of sunk-cost fallacy kicks in the more you watch: okay, that was rubbish, but something else is about to start and maybe, just maybe… ah. I had some of this myself last night. As Capcom’s showcase segued into Razer’s I thought, well, I’m here now, I might as well see what they’ve got. Five minutes later, with the CEO rattling off the names of different laptop USB connectors, I saw the error of my ways and turned in for the night.

A good night’s sleep later and I’m back, baby. Ready for Nintendo to open pre-orders for Switch Pro, slap a September release date on Breath Of The Wild 2, shadow-drop some new Mario Kart 8 DLC, give us first looks at Metroid Prime 4 and Bayonetta 3, announce a new F-Zero and, and, and…

I, like the rest of you, will never learn. And I’m not sure I ever want to. But I do think we could perhaps all be a little better at preparing for disappointment, and handling it when it arrives. Not until after Nintendo, of course. I’m not a monster.


  • I should probably do more of this further up the newsletter instead of burying it at the bottom. A polite reminder that you can financially support Hit Points, if you like it and are able to — and advance notice that within the next couple of weeks, I plan to start making some posts exclusively for paying subscribers. The children need shoes, and I like scotch. Here’s a button!

  • The Xbox Summer Of Games Fest demo event kicks off today, with Sable, Lake and, erm, Lawn Mowing Simulator among the titles on offer over the next week. A similar event, Steam Next Fest, kicks off tomorrow. Square Enix’s PS5 demo of Stranger Of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin finally works too. I have played it and yep, that’s a Soulslike, right enough.

  • A whole load of info on Elden Ring over at IGN, direct from the brain of Hidetaka Miyazaki.

  • Rare’s Everwild has been ‘restarted from scratch’, it says here, and is now ‘optimistically’ slated for release in 2024.

Sending this a little early today to clear the decks for Nintendo. Back to normal tomorrow. As usual, if you’ve enjoyed this, do please share it far and wide — it helps a lot, and I will love you for it. For my eternal adoration, do consider becoming a paying supporter (and then actually become one). Here’s that button again. Cheerio!