Alas, E3 – or as I like to call it, “video game Christmas”, is well and truly over for another year.
And while this year’s E3 wasn’t by any means short on new games to see or things to talk about, the event itself played host to a lot of worthwhile talking points and takeaways.
When we weren’t discussing the games themselves, here’s everything else that piqued our interest.
1. Most people probably won’t need an Xbox One X
Perhaps the biggest question mark going into this year’s E3 was how Microsoft would handle the messaging of their new half-step console, codenamed Scorpio, now known to be the Xbox One X. We knew that the gauntlet would be thrown during their conference, it’s just a shame that it didn’t quite land with the thunderous quake that they’d hoped.
Similar to the difficulties Sony had last year upon the reveal of their PS4 Pro, despite being the world’s most powerful gaming console, there’s no real reason for console players to make the jump to this latest iteration unless they’re a tech fetishist. Likewise, the Xbox One X isn’t likely to attract the PC crowd, already capable of achieving 60fps at 4K resolution if their wallet allows it.
Couple this with the fact that certain third party games such as Destiny 2 won’t be utilising the full power of the system’s 6 terraflop capability, and all that’s left is this weird niche of people that likely already have a PS4 or Xbox One and would like to better be able to see the detail in the grass.
2. Pre-recorded videos work better than a press conference
While there’s an argument to be made as to whether or not Ubisoft or Microsoft had the best respective press conference in the traditional format, the only video game publisher on both the press and public’s mind by the end of the event was Nintendo.
Forgoing a live presentation in favour of a far more laid back video stream dubbed “Nintendo Spotlight”, the company understands that this is the best way to relay your announced games swiftly and clearly, without the usual awkward pauses and stutters. Granted, the spotlight itself was prone to a few grating tonal shifts when moving between announcements, but the tightly edited package – as it always does – came across a lot better than pre-direct Nintendo.
3. Surprise, surprise, and surprise some more
Despite taking E3 by the gonads and tickling them profusely in previous years, many were understandably a little underwhelmed with Sony’s press conference. Though doing a great job of flexing the pre-established muscles of games and software we already knew about, it’s a little less impressive when most of these experiences are still a year or more away.
The genuinely surprising Shadow of the Colossus remake acted as the audience’s main takeaway, by and large because it was unexpected, surprising, and hadn’t suffered from the same leaky tap Assassin’s Creed regularly drip feeds from.
But as good as seeing live gameplay is, E3 is all about showmanship, and therefore it’s all about surprising your audience. A tact Nintendo understood when showing off not one, but two true Metroid games. Bravo.
4. One game is all that’s needed
If this year’s E3 reinforced anything, it’s that one game, if it’s the right game, is all that’s needed to impress fans. Similar with how Nintendo handled the awe-inspiring Breath of the Wild last year, Super Mario Odyssey surprised attendees when it was made fully playable right there and then on the show floor.
‘Show and not tell’ might be the golden rule for screenwriting in film, but turns out, the same can be said for “winning” E3, as it were. Yes, it was only playable under heavily controlled conditions, but going hands-on with a near-finished game that’s such a titan in the gaming industry really goes a long way in terms of carrying a lot of weight. Not every publisher has the equivalent of a Mario, but those that do often find themselves holding a powerful trump card, one that leaves a lasting impression when played.
5. E3 needs to manage the show floor better if it’s open to the public
Thankfully I’m not speaking from first-hand experience on this last point, but there’s been quite a lot of outcry about the fact that for the first time, E3 was made available for 15,000 members of the public. This is in addition to the typical amount of press required to regularly attend the show each year, and for the most part, it resulted in a lot of stuffiness and made moving around quite the challenge.
Simply getting from one side of the show floor to the other was enough to make people complain, and this is a major problem when punters are paying good money to get hands-on with unreleased games but can’t fight through the crowds. It’s hoped that the E3 bigwigs have learned from this year’s teething issues, so here’s hoping they’re ironed out this time next year if the public are invited once again.