Despite feeling under-the-weather, and with three hours worth of sleep from the night before, I went down to the L.A. Convention Center last Thursday for E3.
(As an experiment, I also tried the Metrolink and Metro Rail lines for the first time, and was surprised at how easy and relatively drama-free it was.)
I had assumed that Thursday would’ve been a good day to go since Wednesday, which is opening day, is traditionally the busiest day, and that the hardcore videogamers would have already visited Nintendo‘s booth (which is usually busy every year but with the Wii, it was going to be particularly nutty this year).
And you know what they say about assuming…
I had the foresight to visit Nintendo’s booth first, but little did I realize just how crazy things would get once the convention officially began. When the West Hall doors opened just before 9:00 AM, people were literally stampeding to get in line for Wii, to the point that my friend almost got knocked over three times. And by the time we got in line, it had already snaked almost completely around Nintendo’s booth! Indeed, the line had gotten so long that by 10:00 AM, it was capped and the wait at the very end was a whopping six hours! I noticed several people walk past us with videocameras, and at least one such video of the entire line has made its way online (link via Digg).
But contrary to conventional wisdom, the lines for Wii actually got *crazier* with each successive day, culminating in an even crazier stampede (Digg) on Friday. I’m guessing it was a combination of the buzz from Wednesday and Thursday coupled with the “it’s-now-or-never” mentality that caused it.
So was it worth the two hour wait? Absolutely.
And at least judging by that buzz (Digg) or at least the size of the the line (Digg), Nintendo, a company that a year ago many critics dismissed as being a distant third behind Sony and Microsoft, suddenly finds itself after E3 ahead of the pack and the frontrunner for the upcoming holiday shopping season, while Sony suddenly finds itself possibly in last place (Digg).
Personally, Nintendo’s strategy to keep its new console as a game machine, and not a media center like the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, is brilliant. By keeping its price point low (rumored to be $250 compared to $400 for the 360 premium unit and $600 for the Playstation 3 premium unit), the Wii becomes much more attractive to the casual gamer from an economic standpoint, and that doesn’t include the novelty of the two-piece nunchuk controller, which is the icing on the proverbial cake.
That being said, Sony has some exciting titles coming out for its Playstation 2 and 3 consoles, and yes, Guitar Hero II looks to be even better than the original and the Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots trailer was awesome on the big screen. Also, Gran Turismo HD and Warhawk looked impressive, and I’m looking forward to playing Virtua Tennis 3 when it’s completed (as it was, it definitely needed polishing and the lack of a rumble feature for the PS3 controllers is a serious detriment).
And more photos from E3 here.
UPDATE: Swapped out and added some photos.
UPDATE 2: Added more text and links.