In an industry that continues to evolve at a rapid pace, there is no bigger show out there for video games than the Electronic Entertainment Expo. E3 remains as the place for humungous gaming announcements, releases, and everything in between. It is the Golden Week for gamers, and an all-you-can-eat buffet of so much delicious content that it demands your full undivided attention. While you can watch online or read articles from your favorite gaming site (including us), the main focus of E3 comes towards the start of the week with the conferences.
Conferences have come quite a long way from a long time ago considering we have six separate conferences and showcases, from the Big Three (Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo during their Directs), to the higher spectrum of the AAA companies (EA, Ubisoft, and Bethesda). Whether it takes 30 minutes or two hours, we have our eyes glued to the screen with high anticipation of what games we are about to see, and what new goodies we’ll get. To find success during E3, the press conference can be the thing that can make or break you.
While it’s exciting to think of what we will get this year, let us take a step back and reflect on what we got last year. It’s not to say 2017 was a bad year in gaming (far from it), but for the conferences themselves, some fans felt… underwhelmed. Could it be the games at E3 weren’t good? Or was it more specific to the idea that the format of the conferences didn’t feel like we got what we wanted? Let’s look at all six companies and see what we can decipher.
Ubisoft- When Rabbids and Monkeys Dominated the Conference
Out of all the conferences we got last year, Ubisoft sat at the top of everyone’s mind in terms of their presentation. You can say the Mario/Rabbids crossover was the biggest underdog from last year since no one thought it would work when it leaked before the conference. With the Rabbids, we also got announcements for Far Cry 5, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, and Beyond Good and Evil 2. In their case, it is less about “how to improve” and more of “how to maintain their momentum.”
All eyes will focus on two games: Skull and Bones and Beyond Good and Evil 2. Ubisoft is serious in making sure their “games as a service” work if Rainbow Six: Siege and For Honor are any benchmarks. They will want to reassure gamers that when their pirate game launches, it won’t run into the same “Year One” issues as the other two games did. Meanwhile, they will cover what goodies might come to their other games to show the ongoing support. , Besides the new games they will announce, they will need to show that the wait for Beyond Good and Evil 2 will be worth it. We didn’t get gameplay, but we will likely get it this year.
Overall, there is confidence for a repeat performance of Ubisoft delivering the goods.
Nintendo- Smash Bros and other games that aren’t Smash Bros
To write about what Nintendo has to do during E3 2018 seems… redundant. While fans like to use their “Wish Upon A Star” on the next Smash Bros game, we know it’s coming thanks to the Direct we got last month. So not that Nintendo needs to announce Smash to win E3, but rather we need to find out the juicy details on this game since many fans are still split on whether if this is a “Smash for Switch” enhanced port, or a true sequel.
That leaves us with what else Nintendo would need to announce alongside with Smash Bros to help compliment the Switch. Chances are that during this time, we’ll see the next games in Pokemon and Fire Emblem alongside with others like Yoshi Yarn. Will we see other Wii U titles also get the Switch Definitive Edition like Hyrule Warriors? And with two invitationals, they could use this time to make giant announcements. The Big House of N has a lot of firepower in the waiting. It is only a matter of waiting to see what they will unleash.
Microsoft- What comes next on the Xbox One X?
When Microsoft started their conference, they wasted no time at all in showcasing the Xbox One X. The X1X is the most powerful console to date, but there is the sight issue about the exclusives. Perhaps games like Metro: Exodus and DragonBall FighterZ left an impact, but they were games that would be multiplatform. Meanwhile, games like Sea of Thieves and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds left people split down the middle when they launched. Microsoft is dancing on the razor’s edge.
So how do they step it up from last year? Well, Crackdown 3 needs to step it up and come out already. Meanwhile, fans are awaiting the release date of Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Then there was the big one: Anthem. Considering that Microsoft is banking on this multiplatform, they may want to find incentives to have those who own multiple platforms to game with them instead of PS4. Overall though, Microsoft needs to showcase exclusive titles and games that will give the X1X a good workout. Let’s hope they know what they are doing this year.
One Man’s struggle to make sense of Sony’s Bizzare conferences.
I will break my “third person narrative” for this sections to come clean with those of you reading. For Sony conferences each year, it drives me insane since I hate how fans declare them to be the best conference when they showcase nothing we’re getting for that holiday season. Every year it feels like they showcase games that will be years out, while we aren’t getting anything in the short term.
That said, I will admit that I lost my mind when Monster Hunter World was revealed and God of War will be one of the best games we will get this year (and maybe Spider-Man too). But then you have games like Days Gone and Detroit: Become Human that feel like have been years in development but revealed too soon. Even during these conferences, we got teases for Kingdom Hearts 3 and the remake of Final Fantasy 7 back in 2013 and 2015 and not much else since then. That is a personal gripe of mine I wanted to get out before I continued. Thank you.
Sony: what comes sooner and what comes later
So besides seeing games that will come for this and next year, we need to see progress on games we’ve seen for the last several years have a release date; Days Gone being the primary example. We know that The Last of Us Part 2, is also underway, and we need to know what sets Days Gone apart from Naughty Dog’s Magnum Opus. We also need the reassurance of Sony’s investment in the VR games and to show the gaming world that VR is still very much relevant as it has ever been.
As for the games showcased, let’s hope for the best there too. Much like Microsoft, games revealed at Sony’s conference weren’t up to par like Destiny 2 and Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite. There’s never a way to know what games will come out on top and which ones will flop (even if they are multiplatform), but chances are we will see an even stronger line up out of Sony than last year.
Bethesda: to Direct or to Conference? That is the question…
So last year’s conference from Bethesda was… awkward. Not to say that their line up was bad with titles like Wolfenstein 2, The Evil Within 2 and the return of Quake. The problem was more on how they presented it and made fans wonder why it was called a conference to begin with. If you will not have a showcase of games live, then do what Nintendo does and have your presentation being given “Directly” to the viewers.
There was also the small issue of the “Creation Club” that sparked a big backlash. It’s not Bethesda lost their way last year, but fans weren’t happy with how Creation Club stood for (while others were questioning how you can keep re-releasing Skyrim). Bethesda needs to regain that reassurance of the gamers and this year can be their golden ticket to make things better. We’ll see VR, and we’ll see some Elder Scrolls. We need that small bit more that will get people excited about what Bethesda will bring to the gaming world.
EA: where does one even start?
Out of the six conferences last year, EA suffered the most. Not only did the reveals for their games feel lackluster (minus A Way Out) but man was it hard to watch their conference with a straight face. However, if we were to figure out the best way to start off the conference, it has to be with three words: “we f***ed up.” They don’t have to say it like that, but the first thing EA will need to do is come out and apologize for what they did with Battlefront 2 (and to a lesser extent, Need For Speed Payback).
For as much time as they spend on their sports titles and how they always say, “We have created the most immersive sporting experience yet!” they will need to spend just as much time reassuring their audience they learned from their mistakes and won’t try and take them for granted again. Other than that, there’s not much to say since their actual conference was forgettable. We need to see high-end games out of their camp and even if Microsoft will showcase Anthem, EA better have something that will make us want to throw money at them. We’ll see, but the vote of confidence isn’t high.
Overall: Two Months Away from Greatness (or Disappointment)
So where does that leave us as a whole? For as big as 2017 was in the year of gaming, the same can’t be said of E3. There were those breakout titles, but the spark we expect to see every year just wasn’t there. Those who will be there need to step it up and show us they can grab our attention and never let go. To yell out, “Look at our games!” while gamers can help but throw money at the screen. We want to see where the next step takes us and not feel like this will be a year that only prepares us for the next generation as if nothing special will come out of this year.
Will we see those standout games this year at E3? That remains to be seen. Still, we will watch closely and with great interest. Let’s hope that after the things that happened last year, developers will learn how to improve on what worked while abandoning what didn’t. For as important as it is to turn a profit, it shouldn’t come at the expense of quality.
So what do you guys think? Are there any conferences you’re looking forward to? What do a few of the conferences need to do to win you over? Leave a comment down below and be sure to follow us here at Culture of Gaming for more game editorials and other E3-related goodies.