Every year, E3 shapes perceptions about the current state of the industry and where it is going next. From the games on display to the initiatives being pushed by the console manufacturers, E3 gives gamers an opportunity to see upcoming trends. So, what did we learn this year? The following list outlines the dominant points we observed at the press conferences and on the show floor.

1. What Next Gen?

The current generation of hardware is still producing some fantastic games, but a new wave of consoles is inevitable. You wouldn’t know it from listening to Sony and Microsoft, though. As expected, both companies refrained from making any major next-gen announcements – but the surprising part was that they made no hints, cryptic statements, or any other kind of comment that even acknowledged that new consoles (and accompanying games) are in development. Only a handful of potential next-gen games were on the show floor (like Star Wars 1313), but the developers weren’t confirming anything. It’s hard to get gamers excited for the future when you refuse to talk about the future.

2. Few Surprises

We didn’t see many games at E3 that we hadn’t seen before. Maybe it’s because Internet sleuths leak all of the juicy info beforehand, or maybe it’s because the major series of this generation are churning out money too reliably. Whatever the case, the stunning announcements and jaw-dropping reveals of past years' conferences were largely absent. Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs and Sony’s Beyond: Two Souls were the only previously unknown high-profile titles. The rest of the big games for the next year feature a lot a familiar faces.

3. Strong Showings

Just because companies didn’t have surprises doesn’t mean that their games weren’t impressive. We saw and played some fantastic demos from titles like Assassin’s Creed III, Halo 4, The Last of Us, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, Borderlands 2, and Dead Space 3. They may not have the mysterious appeal of newly announced games, but these are the experiences that are going to define late 2012 and early 2013, and it looks like we’re in for a treat.

4. Forgotten 3D

Remember how people couldn’t shut up about 3D? Well, they finally did. No one seemed to be touting 3D as an important or noteworthy feature in upcoming games. Even Sony, who has been one of the biggest proponents of the technology, stayed quiet about it. With any luck, this fad is on the way out.

5. Handheld Neglect

Owners of the 3DS and Vita bought their handhelds with faith that Nintendo and Sony would eventually provide worthwhile software to justify the purchase. E3 was not reassuring for those gamers, who saw the portable systems sidelined and practically ignored. A few announcements and demos for titles like Paper Mario on 3DS and Call of Duty on Vita weren’t enough to fill handheld gamers with confidence for the upcoming software lineup. After the rocky launch and uneven game quality for both Vita and 3DS, E3 made it seem like Nintendo and Sony were already preparing to give up on their latest portable endeavors. Both companies need to do more to show their commitment to these devices. 

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