Now we argue about who ‘won’ E3

I’ve been lazy this year and not doing re-caps of the E3 press conferences. If you missed them I would direct your gaze to Aggronaut and Levelcapped. Both Belghast and Scopique have been doing good recaps.

I still need to chip in on which events were my favorite though. AKA who ‘won’ E3 (at least at my house).

EA — They held their event Saturday (remember when all the press conferences happened during the week…then MS did that Cirque du Soleil thing on a Sunday one year and that seemed to make it OK to do events on Sunday, and now EA has pushed things back to Saturday) which I bet pissed off the press who had to go to LA another day earlier. And for what? to see a little bit of Anthem (which I am excited about) and that’s about it. I remember a brief glimpse of Battlefield 5 and legit can’t remember what else they showed.

Square-Enix — No need for this to be a ‘live’ event, it was just 30 minutes of trailers. Mind you I am all over Shadow of the Tomb Raider but as an event I thought it was a weak show.

Sony — Weird show mostly focusing on games that we already knew were coming. My theory is that Sony is re-oriented their announcement schedule so they can announce things closer to launch (MS is definitely doing this) which lead them to not be ready to announce 2020 and beyond titles, so all they had to show were 2018 & 2019 titles that we already knew about. Whatever the reason, it was not a great show. I will play the bejeesus out of The Last of Us II and Ghost of Tsushima but I already knew I’d be doing that before the event started (cuz Naughty Dog and Sucker Punch, duh!).

Microsoft — I felt like MS came out swinging, showing off a ton of games, I think 15 of which were premieres. Granted they did that “lets push the ‘exclusive’ branding as far as possible” thing, labeling as exclusive seemingly anything that had either an exclusive Xbox console launch window or exclusive extra content. Even with that, there was a ton to see and they re-affirmed their commitment to bringing us more actual exclusives in future by mentioned the acquisition of 5 studios and there was also a quick mention that yes, they are working on their next console (a response, I assume, to the pundits that keep predicting the death of consoles in favor of streaming services). Then of course they finished the show with a trailer for Cyberpunk 2077.

The 2nd half of Bethesda — Bethesda split their show between Bethesda Gaming Studio games and Bethesda Softworks titles. The latter covers ID games, Arkane Studios games, Machine Games titles and the like. ID games aren’t really my thing so Rage 2 and Doom and Quake game annoucements didn’t excite me much, but the 2nd half when Todd Howard came out and talked about the Elder Scrolls, Fallout and now Starfield franchises I really enjoyed. Mind you, I have some hesitations around the Fallout 76 multiplayer stuff but we’ll see.

Ubisoft — I felt like this was the best event for me. I went in already excited about The Division 2 and was even more excited after the show, and the October release date of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey thrilled me. I can’t wait to get my grubby mitts on that one. Ubioft has such a wide variety of games that it felt like they had something for everyone and the cringe factor was very low. (The new Trials game presentation being the exception..that was awkward.)

So that’s a wrap for me. In my house, Ubisoft is the ‘winner’ of E3 this year but of course this is all super subjective. I guess Nintendo has something going on today but there’s really nothing I enjoy about the Switch so… I doubt anything is going to sway me, and anyway it’s just a canned video.

It’s E3 season!

If I was one of the cool kids this post would be about how E3 is no longer relevant or about how all game publishers pump out trailers full of lies or some other angry rant.

But I’m not cool and I LOVE E3. When I was a kid every year we’d get the Sears Wish Book… this was a fat catalog of stuff for the Christmas season, about half of it toys and games. I knew I wouldn’t get much (any?) of the things in that book but I still loved leafing through it. E3 is the closest thing I have to that feeling as an adult.

I just love games and I love watching trailers and seeing announcements, even of games that I know I’ll probably never play. It’s fun watching trends come and go, watching the technology improve, and just seeing what’s to come. Yeah I know a lot of the trailers I see won’t actually be representative of the final game. I don’t care because I’m not making buying decisions based on a trailer and because I’m aware enough to watch them as their own thing. Perfect example: I have zero interest in Overwatch and will never play it, but I love the character trailers.

I was fortunate enough to attend the first couple of E3s and I had a blast. I was working at a gaming magazine at the time and my fellow editors bemoaned having to go, but I just loved the energy and the chaos and the over-stimulation that came with being on the show floor. These days, of course, I just watch streams, and honestly I don’t even watch that much E3-proper. Mostly I just love “E3 Season,” that being my way of grouping the show proper with all the press events that happen around it. I watch all the press events with the same glee that other people tune into the most recent Star Wars or Marvel super hero movie.

I think we need the core event just to act like a magnet to pull together all these companies and press events and game reveals into one super-charged week of gaming fun. Sure, Sony and MS and Ubisoft and Bethesda could all hold press events on their own but I don’t think it would be the same. I think having a live audience adds a lot to the press events (the wild cheers, the awkward silences when the script clearly allows a pause for those non-existent cheers) and having everyone in one place means you’re getting a more rounded crowd (I think).

The only downside is that the industry is so leaky these days. In Ye Olden Tymes E3 would be full of actual surprise reveals but those are becoming more and more rare. For a while E3 was also becoming diluted as publishers held back reveals for PAX shows or some other event, but that seems to have tailed off somewhat. Now we have E3 and Gamescom and that’s about it. Maybe the Videogame Awards in December.

As to speculation? I don’t have much. I’m interested to see what Microsoft does. They’re weathering a self-induced lull in game announcements. They have announced that they are investing in more first party games (to combat the “no exclusives” problem Xbox has) but they’ve also decided to hold back on announcing games until they are close to release. Given the length of the development cycle that means it’ll be a few years before they start announcing the games from this new initiative. Last year around this time Phil Spencer said they had new IPs in the works but they were “2-3 years out” so it was too early to announce them. So figuring those games are now at best 1-2 years out… is it still too early? Guess we’ll see.

Sony is changing their format to primarily focus on a few games. I think in part that might be due to the fact that Sony is the last press event to happen and now EA, Ubisoft, Bethesda and Square-Enix all have press events ahead of Sony. Assuming these publishers want to announce their own games, that doesn’t leave a lot of 3rd party reveals for Sony.

I don’t anticipate any new hardware this year unless MS has some kind of VR/AR headset announcement (which I hope it does). The Xbox One X is still sparkling with newness and Sony has already said PS5 is 3 years out. Nintendo is still riding the Switch wave, so I don’t imagine any new console announcements this year.

Anyway, the fun starts Saturday afternoon (with EA kicking things off). I’m stocking up on drinks and snacks and my ass is gonna be on the couch enjoying the spectacle.