The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, officially starts today in Los Angeles, California (USA). It’s the biggest video game event of the year. Not the largest in terms of number of attendees, but the most important due the the sheer amount of game announcements that are made here each year. It’s one of the few gaming events that actually gets nationally televised on cable TV and has articles written by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other prestigious newspapers.
In a nutshell, E3 is a massive conference that brings all of the major video game console manufacturers, publishers, developers, fans, and media together to announce, tease, play, and market video games and the entertainment around them (including TV and movies).
Although E3 officially starts today, the day prior is when the major console manufacturers and publishers hold their own media events to get things started. Microsoft, Electronics Arts, Ubisoft, and Sony all held events yesterday. Nintendo used to be included in this list, but have backed out for the last couple of years to save money after a harsh release of the Wii U, seeing their main demographic is not present at E3. However, Nintendo does have a live stream online where they have made announcements. I will divulge more into what they have in store for us at a later time, as they have their media digital event today.
Let’s start with Microsoft. Their media briefing was at 9:30am PT with a lot to prove. After last year’s big unveiling of the Xbox One, an all-in-one entertainment console, the core audience of E3 overlooked the futuristic capabilities and forced Microsoft to backtrack on many of their features to act more like a traditional device. This year, their message was very focused. Microsoft fully understands their audience at E3. These are hardcore gamers. Despite being the one chance any manufacturer has to market to the general audience with so much media coverage, Microsoft decided to stick to just games, games, games this year.
And boy, did they have games. Their announcements included new teases and trailers for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, a Halo game (one disc) that includes remastered versions of all Halo 1-4 games, plus access to Halo 5 beta and a live action feature directed by Ridley Scott, season 2 of the popular Killer Instinct fighting game, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the revival of Crackdown, and plenty of indie games, including “Inside” from the creator of the hit game, Limbo. For a full list, check YouTube. I’m here to analyze the events, not describe every game. There’ s just far too many to speak of in one article.
Microsoft generally won back most who were skeptical of their dedication to games by focusing only on core games.
Up next was Electronic Arts at 12:00pm PT. I was really hoping I could tell you this would be the best event of the day, but unfortunately, sometimes the most anticipated projects just aren’t far along enough in their development to actually show live. Highly anticipated games such as Mirror’s Edge and Star Wars: Battlefront, reboots of cult classics, were merely teased in behind-the-scenes trailers with very little actual substance. The same could be said for the next installment of the popular Mass Effect franchise, which was not mentioned, but very briefly teased as well. Without their major franchises to hold the attention of viewers, the show quickly went down into a monotone lull. Despite games like Dragon Age: Inquisition looking great, they were games we already were aware of. The same goes for Battlefield: Hardline. A cops-and-robbers style Battlefield game. It was leaked like crazy all last week, making its reveal lack-luster. The majority of EA’s time was filled with their usual mention of great looking and behaving sports games, which are released annually, with little room to innovate.
Overall, EA had a boring event. I’d love to say how impressed I was with the other new games announced, but they did such a poor job of making it memorable with bad pacing, nothing really stood out as game-changing.
Ubisoft, on the other hand, has a history of bombshell announcements in their media events over the last couple of years. Both Watch Dogs and The Division have left attendees with their jaws on the floor at E3. This year was the announcement of Rainbow Six: Siege. Little is known about the game, and it was a huge surprise to everyone, as Rainbow Six is a series that has gone MIA over the last 6 years, but beloved by many.
This was just the last 5 minutes of their presentation. The rest of the time was filled with more detailed looks into Assassin’s Creed: Unity, their best selling franchise of all-time, as well as The Division, another highly anticipated game. In between, were trailers for games with unique art styles and games that appealed to broader audiences, like the fitness/dance crowd. It had its high and low points, but Aisha Tyler as the host/comic relief is always a pleasure, and was overall very well-executed, especially considering all of the demographics Ubisoft caters to. It was a very solid event.
Sony impressed many last year with their mudslinging tactics to talk trash about their competitors to win over the hive-minded gamers, but this year may have fallen into their own trap. Despite coming out of the gate strong, the middle of their show went into details about TV, movies, and their network, which is great for their product value. But after proclaiming E3 is all about games, they sure spent a lot of time talking about things that aren’t games.
Their long-winded announcement of popular graphic novel, POWERS, seemed very much out of place, and was not aided by the comic writer trudging along in his explanation of it being made into a TV show for PlayStation.
Speaking of TV shows, Sony worked really hard to sell the PS4 as a console that is all about gaming, and even trash talked about Microsoft missing the point of E3 last year when they touted Xbox One’s TV shows coming next year, yet Sony went ahead this year and talked for a surprising amount of time about curating TV shows for the PS4.
However, the show still ended strong with gameplay from Far Cry 4, Batman: Arkham Knight, and lastly, a teaser for Uncharted 4.
Much of Sony’s event consisted of multiplatform titles and timed exclusives, though carefully worded to make people believe these games are only coming to PS4, which Sony usually does. 2014 does not seem to have many exclusive titles left for Sony to tout, as many have been pushed to 2015, including the highly anticipated The Order 1886, which was also shown during Sony’s event to much acclaim.
After a long day full of amazing game footage, teasers, and announcements, Day 0 of E3 has been a thrill. Gamers everywhere should be very happy. There’s a lot of great games coming. Many have been delayed to 2015, but 2014 still has a lot to look forward to. This is just the beginning.
There will be much more to talk about over the next few days, including coverage of Nintendo. We’ll be sure to provide commentary and a wrap-up.