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They Said WHAT
E3 2010: Lies and Half-Truths in 3D!
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on June 21, 2010   |   Episode 39 (Show Archive)  

   

DJ David Guetta was a little confused by E3, but seemed to be on board with the 3D trend!
There are a few things you can always expect from E3. You can expect to wait in line for whatever Nintendo is showing off. You can expect to watch a lot of lonely games journalist snuggle up to the uninterested booth babes. You should expect to see a lot of celebrities act really excited about games they couldn't care less about. And, most importantly, you can expect to see overpaid executives try and convince us with misleading sales figures and facts they pulled out of you-know-where.

This year was no exception. All three major hardware makers delivered their A-game when it came to massaging the truth. While I won't say that these company men were outright
lying, there was a surprising amount of statements devoid of any actual facts. Some of it can be blamed on poor research, while other comments are far more insidious. No matter whom it was, E3 2010 did not disappoint.

Because we had so much fun fact checking last year's E3, we felt like giving you an encore performance. Here we have six quotes that don't quite line up with the facts. We're evenhanded this year, giving each of the big companies a chance to say something ridiculously stupid. This is by no means the end of the factually bankrupt quotes, but we have to cut off the list somewhere, right?


Quote 1:
Xbox Live Started With Halo!

"Xbox Live has changed the way the world plays video games. It started with Halo, the franchise that introduced millions of people, around the world, to multiplayer

Do you remember when you were actually excited to continue the Halo fight?
gaming." - Marc Whitten, Corporate Vice President for Xbox Live
Reality: There is an argument to be made that the Xbox Live wouldn't be where it is today without the Halo franchise, but saying that this service started with Halo is flat out wrong. Released in 2002, Microsoft's Xbox Live promised a new world where you could easily connect with friends, know what others are playing and jump in and out of online games at will. And, for the most part, it worked right out of the box.

By the end of the system's life, Halo 2 was the number one played game on Xbox Live. But let's not forget that this is not how it started. In the infancy of the Xbox Live we had only a few big action games, including the likes of MechAssault and Unreal Championship. It took Bungie two years of Xbox Live improvements before they brought us Halo 2. Even if those two early years were fraught with problems and terrible technical issues, that's still no reason to pretend they didn't exist. There were a lot of great games that came out on the Xbox Live long before Halo 2, and we shouldn't let Microsoft forget it.

Quote 2:
Nintendo Counts to 3D!


FACT: Super Mario 64 did not come out in 1995!
"As you know, Nintendo produced the first 3D video game 15 years ago." - Satoru Iwata, President and CEO of Nintendo of Japan.
Reality: When I first heard Iwata make this claim I immediately thought he was suggesting that Nintendo created the first 3D game and that it came out fifteen years ago. I was outraged, thinking that perhaps he had forgotten about Hard Drivin' and a whole host of other old school polygonal video games. How dare he suggest that Nintendo created the first 3D game and it's only fifteen years old! Who does this guy think he is?

Thankfully I just heard him wrong. As I read the above quote I don't believe he's

Perhaps this isn't the 3D Iwata was talking about!
suggesting that Nintendo created the first 3D video game, but rather that they published their first 3D game back in 1995. Fair enough, I guess we can move on and tackle incorrect information. But wait ... Nintendo didn't publish their first 3D game fifteen years ago. What the heck are they talking about?

I guess what Nintendo is trying to suggest is that Super Mario 64 (or maybe even Pilotwings 64) was their first 3D games. After all, these were the two launch games for the Nintendo 64 when it launched in 1996. Wait ... what?? But 1996 was 14 years ago, so they clearly weren't talking about that. Maybe they were talking about Star Fox. Nah, that game came out in 1993, making this the 17th anniversary of their first published 3D game. And before that they gave us F-Zero and the original Pilotwings in 1991. If you want to be technical, Nintendo also published Rad Racer in 1987, which gave us a 3D perspective and gimmicky 3D glasses. So, Iwata, isn't this actually the 23rd anniversary of 3D games published by Nintendo?

Quote 3:
Halo, Call of Duty and WHAT???

"If you love games, Xbox is the only place for you and your friends to play all three of the biggest blockbusters in our industry: Halo, Gears of War and Call of Duty." - Don Mattrick,

I'm sure Cliff will probably disagree with me, but come back and see me when a Gears of War game sells 17 million units!
Senior Vice President of Interactive Entertainment.
Reality: For the most part I'm not going to contest two of the three games mentioned here. You would be a fool to argue that the Call of Duty series is not one of the three blockbusters of our industry. After all, Modern Warfare 2 is the second highest grossing game of all time and collectively the franchise has sold more copies than I have time to count. The same goes for the Halo franchise, which is probably the reason why Bungie can't seem to quit making sequels and spin-offs (even after they said they were done). Between its 2001 introduction and now, Halo has more than pulled its own weight. Halo 3 was the best selling game of 2007, despite being tied to only one console. While ODST wasn't nearly the sales winner, Microsoft should be happy with the amount of money they've been able to make off of Master Chief. Collectively they've sold more than 34 million units.

Things get a little murky when Microsoft tries to suggest that Gears of War is one of the "biggest blockbusters in our industry." Was it successful? You better believe it. I can't argue with 11 million units sold between only two games, most game companies would kill a hooker to earn that kind of

There's no reason for this picture to be in a story about Gears of War!
scratch. But does it belong next to Halo and Call of Duty as one of the biggest blockbusters? Not as long as Grand Theft Auto has anything to say about it.

Collectively, Grand Theft Auto has outsold every single game mentioned. Hell, Grand Theft Auto IV just hit 17 million units, which is six million more than BOTH of the Gears of War games combined. Yet Microsoft chooses Gears of War over Grand Theft Auto? I think not. And it doesn't stop there. Does Don Mattrick not consider the Mario series to be one of the biggest blockbusters? He's had a bunch of games released recently, including some that have sold more than your beloved Gears of War. Yet he's not about to double jump over to the Xbox 360. And what about Final Fantasy? Or Wii Play?

In the end it's just some throw-away line Microsoft used to help promote the three games that are actually coming out there year. If Rockstar was about to announce Grand Theft Auto V, I'm sure Microsoft would have added it to the list. All this quote does is show me how inflated Microsoft's expectations are for Gears of War 3. I'm sure Cliffy B's newest shooter will be a monster hit, but let's see it hit 17 million units.

Quote 4:
Microsoft Shills For the DS?


This will be the last time you ever seen two attractive women talk about The Last Airbender!
"Hey, that's The Last Airbender, wasn't there a video game about that?" -Laura's Friend, Kristin.
Reality: This little quote may not be as insidious as some of the other comments made at the various press conferences, but that doesn't keep it from staying out of this article. This bizarre quote was said about halfway through Microsoft's Kinect demonstration. In this demonstration we get Laura, a perky community manager who can't get enough of the accessory's video conferencing. You can use your hands and talk to it. It's incredible, we're told. To help Laura demonstrate this, she brings in a well-rehearsed friend to act excited when she starts a movie or chats without a bulky headset. She's not terrible, but I doubt we'll ever see her performing with the Upright Citizen's Brigade.

The two women don't even get a minute into the trailer for M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender before

Well, it has to be better than the Dragon Ball movie, right? Anybody?
Kristin proclaims: "Hey, that's The Last Airbender, wasn't there a video game about that? Laura quickly quips that there is a game and then proceeds to chastise her friends for getting easy achievement points. It's a fun exchange that probably went by unnoticed by most.

To answer Kristin's burning question; yes, there is a video game based on that movie. In fact, there are two video games based on that movie. There's one for the Nintendo Wii and a portable game coming soon for the Nintendo DS. That's it. Don't expect to see a game based on that movie for the Xbox 360. Perhaps if they hadn't kicked her off the screen so quickly she would have talked about waiting to buy the Blu-ray Disc to play on her brand new PlayStation 3. Okay, so maybe it's not the world's biggest infraction, but you would think that an event as meticulously scripted as this wouldn't advertise for the competition.

Quote 5:
The Anniversary That Wasn't!


If you want to get technical, 2010 is the PlayStation's 16th birthday!
"This year not only represents the 15th anniversary of PlayStation, but we're also celebrating the 10th anniversary of the PlayStation 2." - Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, America.
Reality: When it comes to celebrating anniversaries, both Sony and Microsoft are a little confused. We'll start with Sony, who claims more than once in their press conference this is the "15th anniversary" of the PlayStation brand. This is one of those facts that sounds good when you first hear it, but the more you think about it the less it makes any sense. For one thing, the PlayStation was originally introduced in

... Unless you count the original announcement, then the PlayStation is MUCH older!
1994, not 1995. If we abide by the facts then this is the PlayStation brand's 16th birthday, a more impressive (but somehow less significant) achievement.

But wait; didn't the original PlayStation hit store shelves on September 9th, 1995? I mean, they had that annoying "(E)NOS lives" ad campaign that thoroughly confused gamers all over the United States. Not so fast, smart guy. The PlayStation actually launched on December 3rd, 1994 ... in Japan. Think that's insignificant? Tell that to the country that brought us everything from Mario to Sonic to, yes, Sony. At no point did Sony specify that they were talking about the American release, which makes this date misleading at the very best.


Sure the Xbox was large and heavy, but at least it never gave you a red ring of death!
And for the record, 1994 isn't even the birth of the PlayStation brand. Let's not forget that Sony had completed at least one version of the hardware as early as 1992, making this the 18th anniversary of the PlayStation brand.

What's that, you don't think it's fair to count the first official announcement or unveiling of real hardware? Then you probably shouldn't listen to Microsoft when they tell you that "this year marks ten years for Xbox." How can that be when the system came out in 2001? Easy, they are counting the first unveiling of the Xbox back at the Game Developers Conference. This is the kind of new math that both companies seem to be using to get people excited about their respective brands. At the end of the day it may not matter to most people, but the fact that Don Mattrick and Jack Tretton can't even get a stupid anniversary right suggests one of the reasons their respective systems are getting their butt handed to them by Nintendo.

Quote 6:
And Now ... Reggie Fils-Aime!


Does this look like the face of a man who is going to lie to you?
"You don't have to be a game expert to understand its potential popularity. But even among the experts, sometimes the common wisdom isn't so wise. Let me give you a few examples. Last year you heard people say Wii momentum was starting to wane. Then, guess what, last December, in America, Wii set the record for any video game system of any kind in a single month. Others claim that all those casual Wii owners don't buy games. But somehow more games have sold for Wii in the 43 since launch than any other platform ever over the same launch period. Then, there's a recent NPD study showing that Wii owners actually play their systems more often than other owners. And at the same time, according to the research group Ipsos, nearly as many

If Reggie really wants to protest the media, he should take a hint from this, um, spirited protester!
people intend to buy a Wii in the next six months than the other two platforms combined." - Reggie Fils-Aime, President and COO of Nintendo of America.
Reality: Slow down there Reggie, there's no reason to overload us with crazy speculation and misleading sales figures. Why not do what Microsoft does and spread the crazy out over the full 90 minute conference? That's not Reggie's style, as you can tell from the lengthy quote above. Here he does his best imitation of Sarah Palin and suggests that the media is constantly getting the story wrong. Does he have a point? Judging by a lot of the game journalism I see today, I'm inclined to agree with him. However, Reggie isn't nearly as upfront with his audience as I would have liked.

Let's take these in order. He suggests that the experts are wrong to suggest that the Nintendo

If this picture is a metaphor for Nintendo's 2010 sales, then there would only be two controls pretending to play the Wii!
Wii's popularity is beginning to wane. To prove this he pulls out the December 2009 sales figures, which show the Wii as popular as ever. The problem is that most games journalists have only started talking about a slowing in momentum this year. And for good reason, sales have been down every single month in 2010 when compared to 2009. Last February Nintendo sold 397,000 units, substantially less that the 753,000 units sold one year earlier. That may be the most extreme example, but you'll find a slowing in each month.


It sure is easy to sell more units when you sucker into buying your cheap game and control bundle!
He also talks about how much software is being sold, as if this proves his point that Wii owners don't buy software. But again, the Wii has 71 million units sold. Compare this to the 40 million Xbox 360s and 35 million PlayStation 3s and the picture becomes a little clearer. And let's not forget that Nintendo has made some of the best selling games of all time, like Wii Play and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Of course you've sold the most software, nobody is disputing that. But just because Wii Play is kicking butt, that doesn't mean that you are cultivating a healthy market for third-party games.

And then in a fit of lunacy, Reggie jumps completely off the deep end and suggests that a poll shows that more people want to buy a Wii than either of the competition's consoles. Really? Well, if they were so excited to buy a system, why haven't they done it yet? And who says that when they actually get to the store that your poll will translate to real system sales. Take it from somebody who has watched political polling; having high name recognition will get you far, but you actually need people to buy your product for it to matter. In other words, it looks unseemly when you count your chickens before they hatch.
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