The big booths, high-profile games, and general spectacle of E3 all ranked very highly with attendees, according to the informal polling conducted during and after the show. Everyone has his collection of the best and worst games, and it's a dangerous minefield to step into that subjective field, so I'd rather avoid that (still, some of my favorites are easy to pick out).
There were, however, a handful of annoyances and missed opportunities. Some are long-term issues, others may have a quick fix. If you're interested in what E3 missed the boat on this year, check out our list below, and offer your own suggestions in the comments section at the end.
E3 and the video game bubble
Three is a magic number Nintendo Wii U, Sony Vita, and the dangers of complexity
Why isn't Apple at E3?
E3 2011: Complete coverage
The console company press conferences failed to highlight some of the best games.
Sony, Microsoft, and, to a lesser extent, Nintendo all use their respective preshow press conferences to highlight notable upcoming games, both first-party (those actually published by Sony, Microsoft, etc.) and from other publishers such as EA.
We saw the latest Call of Duty, Uncharted, and Zelda games, but several of the most notable contenders were missing. Perhaps it was because they weren't calculated to be key sales drivers, in the way that Call of Duty is, or because key partnerships required press conference stage time at the expense of other games.
I'm inclined to agree with a games industry executive who told me immediately after the show that the hottest E3 buzz-builders were BioShock Infinite, Skyrim, and Batman: Arkham City. Of those, BioShock got a brief plug at the Sony press conference while the other two went unmentioned.
Nintendo pulled this year's hardware slight of hand.
Nearly every year, one of the console companies shows off some new game hardware. The unveilings are carefully choreographed, and attendees are always mesmerized by the shiny new toy, allowing the presenting company to quickly exit stage left, leaving critical questions unanswered.
This year it was the Nintendo Wii U. Despite several tech demos and detailed views of the inventive tablet-style controller, we didn't learn anything about the system's price, release date (beyond sometime in 2012), or the tech specs of the largely unseen console itself, which the tablet controller would presumably connect to. Which is a shame, as the Wii U seems very impressive in this incomplete first look.
This isn't a new phenomena. Last year, it was the Xbox 360 Slim and the Nintendo 3DS that were presented without key release info, and the trend dates back as far as the original Sony PSP, which was teased in 2003 in the form of a single UMD disc, with an admonition to come back next year for more details. We've also seen this trend recently with other products, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which went through multiple press conference show-offs before Samsung would talk about the price or release date.
E3 attendance is growing, but capacity isn't.
Trade shows are always crowded, but E3 has gone through many ups and down in attendance over the years, and actual physical crowd capacity hasn't always kept up. The prebubble heights of 50,000-plus people fell to as low as 5,000 and back up to 46,000 for 2011. However, this year's show lacked the crucial third overflow hall from years past, and each of the big press conferences was similarly jammed with wall-to-wall people, long lines, and major traffic tie-ups.
Inside the E3 booths, the situation wasn't much better, and I witnessed hours-long lines to see game demos, and many people being turned away because of lack of space. Just as CES has filtered into outside hotels and venues, E3 may need to find more space or invite fewer people.