Now the showcases of Summer Game Fest 2023 are over and done with, we’re left to reflect over everything that we’ve seen. And there’s been a lot to see. Over the course of five days, we’ve rounded up no less than nine livestreams, between them absorbing hundreds of game trailers and announcements. It’s been rather overwhelming, honestly. But amongst it all, one showcase stood out to us above the others: Ubisoft Forward.
We had lots of highlights of Summer Game Fest, sure. We’re still to write about some of them, but you can check out the indie games we’re most excited about by clicking here. Each and every show had its highlights, but Ubisoft Forward 2023 reminded us what we miss about the now-extinct format of the E3s of yesteryear. You know, the days where only platform-holders and the major publishers had shows. Usually no more than an hour long, they were focused, informative, never over-stuffed and usually had one or two show-stopping announcements to get the crowd on their feet.
Ubisoft Forward was lacking the latter, admittedly. We’re excited about Star Wars Outlaws, but with the reveal trailer coming a day earlier, at the Xbox Showcase, any punch it could have packed was lost. The same goes for the extended look at Assassin’s Creed Mirage: we can’t wait to get back to a tighter, more focused Creed, but we’ve already seen the game. Same, too, for Avatar Frontiers. How much the trailer excited you will depend on how you feel about Ubisoft’s open-world formula: we’ve seen it all before, this time it’s just in a new, pretty world.
But beyond the lack of anything that would really get the crowd cheering, Ubisoft’s presentation really hit the spot. It wasn’t just a showreel of CGI trailers for games with no release date. Sure, we had fancy cinematic trailers, but they were followed up by actual gameplay. Every game that Ubisoft showcased had either a release date, or an upcoming beta: some tangible checkpoint in time we can look forward to. That alone makes a huge difference.
The biggest reason we loved the Ubisoft Forward so much, though, was that the company actually gave their games the necessary time to shine. They weren’t waved away after a 30-second trailer. Gameplay was minutes-long, and developers were on stage, talking about what we could see in the trailer. That’s the way things used to be done, and it felt good to be back there.
If you’re not a huge fan of Ubisoft properties, we can understand how the format may feel a bit drawn-out and boring. But this is Ubisoft Forward: it’s Ubisoft’s time to showcase Ubisoft games. If you’re not a fan of them, it’s probably not the showcase for you. While we enjoyed the variety from the likes of Summer Game Fest Showcase and PC Gaming Show, they were overwhelming to watch. Too many games were crammed in, meaning that even the best-looking trailers were lost in the crowd. It’s hard to recall any highlights when you’ve been hit with such a huge barrage of games.
There’s a place for both types of showcases, sure. And sometimes, a showreel of trailer after trailer works. But for Summer Game Fest – the name we’re now giving to the period that used to be E3 – we think it’s acceptable to expect more. And indeed, great games deserve more: they deserve more time on stage to shine, to be shown in their best light, to give prospective fans a better idea of what they might be. Because, as excited as we are about Fable, and as keen as we’ve been to find out something about Compulsion Games’ project, the opening trailers at Xbox’s showcase told us practically nothing about either of those games. Were we happy to see them? Sure. But we’d have much preferred a gameplay segment, or a bit of a presentation from the development team.
With the “good old days” of E3 long behind us, the future of summer showcases is still uncertain. They’re going to change and develop over time, and the reality is we’re glad they still exist at all. But we hope that more platforms take a leaf out of Ubisoft’s book and give the games they’re showcasing just a little more room to breathe. They all deserve that at the very least.