Monday, February 28, 2011

Taking E3 Off the Backlog

So KMart is having a contest.

As they lay out here, some lucky bloggers are going to be taken to the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3.  This enormous convention was making fans sweat with anticipation and doing the big reveal before Steve Jobs came along and made it cool.

Look at this poseur.

E3 is the Holy Grail for people who love gaming.  Every publisher and developer is represented, and not only do they show off all the fancy new toys they've got coming down the pipe, but they let you get first hands on them.  It's like if Hollywood held a special advance screening for every film they were going to put out in 2012 so you knew ahead of time what you were going to spend money on in the theater.

If they'd done that in 2009, there wouldn't have been a 2012.

KMart wants to send someone with their finger on the pulse of the gaming industry to walk the floors and see all there is to see, then write about it for them. 

Why is The Backlog perfect for this?

Besides my roguish good looks?

First, we're clearly passionate about our gaming.  While we tend to have a focus on RPG/SRPG games, we've also tackled Action Platformers, Survival games, Simulation, and a spectrum of others that shows we are dedicated to chronicling all this hobby has to offer. 

We also cover the Westminster Dog Show.

Part of the assignment is to tell KMart what it is we're excited about seeing, but to be honest there's nothing we're not excited about.  What kind of crazy niche game is Atlus going to put out next?  Is Bethesda about to knock another one out of the park?  How is Nintendo going to follow up last year's amazing showing?  And what will Sony and Microsoft pull out to bring the Move and the Kinect to the forefront?  Will Natsume announce ANOTHER Harvest Moon game?  Who would see THAT coming?

Simply put, we know what we're talking about.  The world of video gaming is constantly changing, with new technology and paradigm shifts coming out all the time.  In the last few years we've seen genres start to blend together as RPG elements invade games like BioShock and Call of Duty.  The trailers for L.A. Noire show advances in motion-capture that are going to make the experience more cinematic than ever.  The upcoming Dead Island looks poised to take Survival Horror to whole new heights.  Here at The Backlog we can offer a perspective others might not have on how the industry is changing, because we're here every day writing about its roots. 

What others could perceive as new and innovative, we can look at and say "hey, quicktime events - just like in Shenmue!"  When someone talks about how awesomely difficult the Ninja Gaiden 3 is going to be, we know that this is keeping in the proud tradition of Jaquio and the Art of the Fire Wheel.  We've covered everything from the mainstream (Star Ocean, Devil May Cry) to the niche and obscure (Chaos Wars, Riviera).  Whatever E3 has to throw at us, we'll have something informed to say about it.  Possibly with a picture and funny caption included.

Second, The Backlog is good for the gaming industry and good for gamers.

Also the goose, and by proxy the gander.

There have been a few times we've remarked on games not long after their initial release date.  You can see evidence of that with our entries on Hexyz Force, Bayonetta, and Alan Wake.  Other times, we go as far back as Chrono Trigger.  By and large, however, our focus is on games released some time in the last decade.  Why is this good news for both makers and players of video games?

Because the more attention that is given to how much we love our older games, the more likely it is that we'll see them come back again.  Time has proven, again and again, that if developers keep making games we love, we'll pay for them over and over.  If they know which games we love the most, they'll know which projects are worth revisiting to keep the cash flowing in.

Square-Enix figured this out years ago.

If we ever want to see more of the enhanced remakes or handheld ports that bring the long-forgotten classics back into the spotlight, developers have to know that's what we're clamoring for.  The more attention a site like ours gets, the more that word gets out.  This kind of market is already off to a good start with the God of War Collection, Ico/Shadow of the Colossus HD, and the recently-announced Beyond Good & Evil HD.  With enough voices pointing them in the right direction, who knows what other recent gems will get the update treatment?  Imagine an Odin Sphere/Grim Grimoire compilation for the PS3, or Capcom putting out a Devil May Cry Trilogy in HD instead of doing . . . whatever it is they're doing with that franchise.

"You know what would make Dante edgier?  Heroin addiction." - Capcom

More than just remakes - if enough attention is brought to the simple idea "hey, we really liked this game and would love to see more of it," we could start seeing more sequels to titles that might have otherwise faded away before their time.  Not only that, but we could also influence localization if we got enough people on board, and finally start to see some of those titles we've always heard about but never been able to play without taking a community college course in Japanese and then buying them off of Ebay as part of a lot also featuring the seller's lifelike anime-girl pillow.  There are way too many examples, in my opinion, of games which have a market in the U.S. and Europe getting passed over because publishers don't think it'll be worth it to pay for a translation.

Not to point fingers, or anything.

So if the Backlog gets a strong community behind it, it means a stronger voice to shout out "hey, we will pay for these games if you make them."  Companies know what games to make, players get to spend their money on things they know will be worthwhile, and everybody comes out happier for the deal.  I don't know about you, but after Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together, I'm dying to let S-E know they can have my money if they publish more Ogre titles with Queen lyrics attached.

Holding out hope for Ogre Battle: Dynamite with a Laser Beam.

Finally, the Backlog knows KMart is the place for video game deals.  GameStop is great, but their business model is that of a very specialized pawn shop.  Toys 'R Us tries hard, but they lack the kind of selection that KMart offers.  As anyone who frequents the CAG forums can tell you, nobody is capable of making the kinds of bargains on new games that KMart can.  I want to see the kind of things discussed in my second point come to be - and I want to be able to buy them at KMart prices.  If that happens, this could be the best partnership KMart has enjoyed since Martha Stewart, only without the messy breakup and jail time*.

And we're not too shabby decorating with festive gourds ourselves.

So therefore I humbly submit myself, and my blog, to be chosen for the honor of going to E3.  I hope you've enjoyed this post, and also take the time to see some more of the fine writing we've got to offer.  Thank you for reading, and I hope that we see each other this summer in Los Angeles!

*Note:  This is not a guarantee.