If you had been following E3 this year, you might have noticed some criticism around for the big showcases. I personally took in every showcase as they happened and had very mixed feelings from most of them. So after a bit of time to properly reflect on the show, I was wondering if was E3 2019 that bad?
Which is a big debate to have since there were undeniably amazing moments at this year’s E3. I mean, it was the year Keanu Reeves appeared not only in a game, but then appeared live on stage.
But I also felt there was too much focus on how many games they could force into shows. Not to mention how much of it was a CGI trailer, which makes no sense to do (more on that later).
My thoughts on it all are down the page but I’d love to read yours because E3 is supposed to be a show about you. Comment your thoughts or just a 1-10 rating of E3 2019 in at the end of the article.
Quantity Over Quality
From putting on an “E3 show” point of view, it must be a huge process for the teams behind them. One that takes a long time to organise.
Having sorted out a wedding in recent memory I know how long planning something for so long is. And then the reality is it’s all over in a flash compared to all the planning!
But imagine doing a wedding every year. Trying to get it perfect, every year. And then, making it a better wedding every year.
This is the challenge these games/console publishers face.
Now, somewhere in all this, in order to be “bigger than last year” has come down to the number of games shown, rather than the quality of games shown. Xbox in particular of being guilty of this in the past few E3’s.
You gotta pump those numbers up
At the Xbox show [round up of games here], in 2018 Phil Spencer announced a total of 50 games at the start of the show. 2017 it was 42 games on the showcase. This year it was 60 games.
Do we really need this many in one show? Can you even remember what the 60 were? I for one can maybe write down 10 or so without going back to look at the notes I made, and not many people made notes!
So in order to get that many games into two hours, just simple mathematics says you can only average 2 minutes per game, excluding any talking. That in realistic terms means games have a slot of around 90 seconds.
It’s just far too many titles in a short burst to really get excited about any game in particular. Excluding the ones, we already knew about. And it also means showing gameplay, where things are naturally a bit slower, becomes really difficult.
In 90 seconds you might walk a bit look in your inventory and shoot a bad guy. Wow.
While Xbox was stand out on this, personally I thought every conference could have toned down the quantity and gone for more quality in their presentations.
Why all the CGI?
This makes no sense to me whatsoever. The amount of CGI this year was ridiculous. Especially when you consider the majority of games in the showcases were PLAYABLE by people at E3 that week.
They have a build of the game ready to show people in the majority of cases right there. Just plug a controller in and show some of the demo instead.
But that all ties back into the timing issue. If your game only has a slot for less than 2 minutes, what serious gameplay can you actually show?
It’s at the organisation of the presentation that really has let developers down. Sometimes letting themselves down, especially Bethesda [round-up of games here] that could have done far more with their show in terms of gameplay.
Starfield was announced the last E3 and it got a mention, that was it. Deathloop was new and looked a cool concept, but I’ve no idea how it plays or looks really.
There are countless more examples that I could use here (some I bring up later).
But the point here is, while not every game needs to be played on the stage, at least the games that are coming out reasonably soon. Or the ones with a demo right there at E3, should get enough time during the presentation to let the gameplay speak for itself.
Who got it right?
I’m going to do something now that doesn’t happen often: complement EA! Don’t worry, I’m not mad and will go back to bashing them in a few paragraphs.
But I think the EA play [Round up here] format was good. And it started really good because we got some cool gameplay, and a good chunk of it too.
While the game itself will have those that love it (me included, with an article on it is coming soon!) and those that won’t love it.
This is how humans work, we like different things. Sorry internet, but it’s a fact… remember those? I used to like facts.
Anyway, with everyone getting a good 15 minutes of the Jedi Fallen Order being played, we can decide that. Or debate it between us. That’s what having that practical view of a game being played gives you.
Why are streams are so popular? Because it’s clear there is an audience for people who love to see someone playing a game. Particularly a new one.
The rest of EA Play after that show went downhill fast for two reasons.
- That was the best game they had and nothing else was near that quality when it was shown.
- They should have done that for all the games there rather than back to trailers and panel discussions. Especially for FIFA.
- They ignored Anthem… more on that coming soon too!
Had they carried on in that fashion it could have been one of the better shows this year.
I also want to give a shout to Ubisoft [round up], Square Enix [round up] and Nintendo too. The Final Fantasy VII Remake gameplay was one of my favourite moments of E3 this year. And seeing it at 2 AM UK time debating whether it was worth it or not, woke me up a bit as I was considering heading to bed.
Watch Dogs Legion from Ubisoft was good, Luigi’s Mansion 3 and a lot of the big Nintendo titles did do a good job of showing off the gameplay elements of the titles.
A gamer’s personal preferences aside, showing the gameplay does a much better job of making that show worthwhile to watch.
The big issue was only Nintendo consistently did this in there shows. And one notable absentee this year would have.
PlayStation’s Absence Should Not Matter
There have been some comments about Sony not being too worried about missing E3 this year. And a few of the usual console wars ones that a good for some social media banter, but don’t really matter to people who just want great games, regardless of formats.
For me, PlayStation not having a show this shouldn’t matter.
Surely if you are Xbox or Bethesda you want to make an amazing show to wow your audience, whether your rival or another showcase is there or not?
This makes sense to me at least. You might argue they had the chance to really show why missing E3 was a bad move. But other than that, I don’t see it having much of an effect on the preparations.
What very few of the other shows have managed to do, however, is realise what made the past few years of PlayStation conferences so popular.
While the format of the show in 2018 was considerably random and didn’t work as they expected it to. The games they showed were some of the best at E3 last year.
Spider-Man was given an amazing section of gameplay, as was Ghost of Tsushima, Death Stranding and the highly anticipated The Last of Us Part II also had a big gameplay reveal.
In previous years we saw God of War, Spider-Man, Horizon Zero Dawn, Uncharted the Lost Legacy and Detroit Become Human really impress.
Why? Quite simply, each game got a decent time slot and showcased some either live or pre-recorded gameplay.
If the absence of PlayStation was felt this year, it was certainly in the way they really give the big tiles time to shine on the stage.
The Future of E3 Showcases
Quite simply, sometimes less is more. Perhaps we should be focusing less on the volume of the games coming, and more on the quality of the ones that are almost here.
If a game has a demo that people can play at the event, that’s great. But people not there and not able to play it, would like to see it in action.
As I mentioned, this is why everyone loves streaming. Yes, some did do this in more detail after the show, but there is no reason not so show some of that during the show as well.
Personally, I’d love a show to turn around and really focus on 5 or 6 games in detail and mix in a selection of teasers and announcements in between them.
I have no issue with some trailers being rendered as movies or just as a tease.
But when they are practically all like that hitting you every couple of minutes, it’s all it bit too frantic to get excited about anything in particular.
Shows and Audiences
On a separate point to what I’ve mentioned. I do also think they should have a mobile games show.
While people love mobile games, and I might have those who disagree with me here. But every time a mobile game came up I was ready to just turn the show-off and go to bed!
Especially the ones as the sun was rising here in the UK!
It’s just a break up of the flow and needs to have its own area or showcase somewhere. That way people interested can watch it. But for me, it’s a big no in the middle of a gaming conference.
Not sure that will happen but I’m saying it anyway!
A quick word on the audiences too. I’m not sure if the theories on people being paid are true. But we do know there are employees etc in the crowd watching the show.
Whatever is going on, your typical person does not react the way some of the crowd members do to the types of shows we were having. More real people reactions would not go amiss in these showcases either.
Was E3 2019 that bad?
It’s a strange E3 this year. No doubt it will go down as the “breathtaking E3” since the moment Keanu Reeves came out will be hard to beat.
In a show where there are leaks about everything, it was awesome to be truly surprised. CD Projekt Red and Microsoft need a lot of love and respect for the way that went down. It was an iconic moment in E3 history.
For what it’s worth I also enjoyed many other moments of the E3 shows, they each had them. Even Bethesda showed some cool games off, especially Deathloop (even though it was mainly CGI) and Doom Eternal looks outstanding.
The issue was those moments were mixed with too much rendered footage, mobile games and other clips that just broke the flow.
I don’t think overall it was as bad as has been claimed on the internet. But I do think there needs to be some changes next year. 100% we need more gameplay, less mobile games and more “real” audiences that react like normal humans.
Even if E3 wasn’t that bad this year, it wasn’t that good either.
But that’s just me, like I said before I want your thoughts. Comment them below, even a simple rating of E3 2019 beneath the article. Don’t forget to share this too using the buttons below.