Sunday Thoughts: Pre-E3 Announcements

This week has highlighted something we’ve started to see more and more of other the last few years, the pre-E3 announcement extravaganza. This may well be my memory playing tricks on me, but it seems like everyone used to save up their announcements, to hoard them for E3 and a few of the other big shows. Oh, certainly there were the odd announcements here and there, but I’m almost certain it wasn’t like it is now.

Looking over the past few days using TSA’s handy feature we’ve had the least surpsing announcement ever in the form of Black Ops II, The Elder Scrolls Online, Company of Heroes 2 (although that was just a pre-announcement) and even a bit of a tease from thatgamecompany about their next project. Now some of these are just a normal part of the news and PR cycle that seems to continue relentlessly, but you do have to wonder if saving them for E3 could have had more impact.

[drop]That’s not to say we won’t see some, or all, of these games at E3, in fact it would seem bizarre if they didn’t at least appear in some form or another at the show. The real question is do these titles make as much of an impact if they’re announced before we go to those exciting few days in June, or does it serve the games better to have those games make a splash before dozens of other games are being announced at the same time?

That’s a tricky one to answer, and I’m sure it’s one that is debated for hours on end in PR and marketing departments across the planet. Even with all of the metrics in the world for measuring the impact of any announcement, it’s still tricky to predict just how your announcement will be received at any time of the year, let alone in the increasingly crowded E3 and pre-E3 window.

Putting aside the PR thought behind the time, I kind of like everything being condensed into those few days at E3; it’s great to watch a press conference and have almost no idea what we’re going to see.

That was something I felt with Ubisoft’s conference last year; it might have been so weird I was convinced I was dreaming at times (2010’s conference had the same effect strangely) but it was always turning to something that surprised me at least a little. None of the other press conferences really threw any shocks at me, even Nintendo’s deeply confusing WiiU announcement didn’t seem like much of a surprise.

Of course, the problem with E3 is the ease with which you can miss an amazing announcement. Even if you watch every second of the big press conference you can still miss something that was only shown off on the show floor, or have some extended coverage of a game pass you by.

Setting the announcement of games like The Elder Scrolls Online or God of War: Ascension before E3 means they get a clear run at things and have the possibility to make a bigger splash, although possibly make it in a smaller pond.

I’d be interested to hear your opinions on this, as it does feel like a personal preference. For me confining everything to the big shows really gives them a bit of added excitement, but I can see why some would prefer a bit of a build to the show as well.

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17 Comments

  1. Personally, I’d like to have everything as a massive surprise at E3 and be completely bowled over with all new games/software/hardware at once but I understand why some companies want to pre-annouce to build hype and make sure their game gets more than a few minutes overview.

    Solution for me would probably be: Don’t look at any gaming websites at least a month before E3 but, in reality, that’s never going to happen.

  2. The excitement of E3 for me is at the same level as Christmas. But last year was incredibly disappointing, and I just laughed at the Microsoft conference. I’d just like some showmanship this year, like Kevin Butler again or something truly amazing like Gabe Newell’s walk onto the Sony stage. But what really matters is the games, I want a steady flow of PS3/V announcements and demos of games we’ve never seen and NOT ANY FREAKIN’ SALES STATISTICS FOR HALF A FREAKIN’ HOUR!

    • Oh, forgot to add: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-THHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEE!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!

  3. I’m of the sane opinion as you Kris. I’d much prefer lots of exciting unexpected announcements during the main few days of E3 when I’ll be watching with a few beers and a few mates. The less surprise announcements left for E3, the less interested I will be in watching the show meaning they would start to lose their audience anyway forthe sake of trying to make a big splash before the show and if the interest in E3 drops then so will the number of people watching the gameplay and details that they had prepared for the show.

    A press release passed between 200 games media websites will never achieve what E3 will in excitement.

    • I’m actually quite exited, as for as with Sony they seem to be aware that they need to release enough information to get people exited about there products, and there are still already announced ‘surprises’ so to speak:

      We haven’t seen ANY ‘The Last of Us’ but its ‘early’ announcement has put it on peoples map.
      Same with God of War single player
      Same (hopefully) with the ‘best’ surprise All-Stars characters.
      Hopefully ( like REALLY hopefully ) there is some Vita surprises.

      I think in Sony’s case, they’ve given people a reason to watch their presser so people ARE watching the real surprises.

      • You may well prefer lots of surprise announcements at E3 but is that even possible any more? With, as you put it, 200 games media websites all eager to report any rumours it is pretty hard for the publishers to keep secrets.

      • My reply was mean to AG.

      • I should just go back to bed. ‘meant for’ not ‘mean to’.

  4. I quite like having a few titles announced pre-E3 it saves for the inevitable information overload that comes around every year. Like you said above, you’re guaranteed to miss some of the announcements, especially if you don’t watch them and just scroll through headlines.

    I also wonder whether it has anything to do with avoiding leaks.
    E3 info must be a top priority for everyone to get their hands on so is more likely to be leaked. I know I’d rather announce my game in a less grand occasion but it be a surprise than release it with a fanfare after everyone has read a leaked document saying its going to be announced.

  5. Not really sure I’m too bothered which way they go about it tbh. Either way we get the game announcement then later on the game itself, so it doesn’t really matter.

  6. Well, at the moment every single God of War, LBP Karting and All-Stars rumour appears to float to the top banner of N4G. This would have no chance in hell of happening during E3, and gets people aware of a product which they are going to actively look for during E3. Whereas if a game gets announced there, it has to ‘find’ the consumer so to speak.

    More character reveals and Vita goodness should be enough to make the Sony presser worth it… (and luckily it is after my exams!)

  7. My love for games and new about games has wavered only a few times in the past, but E3 has always been such a big thing for me, I remember when I was younger I used to always buy all the magazines near E3 (oh god remembering having to read stuff on paper how primitive! And having to pay for it too!) I would work my self up so much looking forward to E3, and then when it actually happened it was amazing for me, I would never even watch anything, I don’t even know if you could watch it then, I at least didn’t know I could back then. Just reading about it in magazines was enough for me! But now I don’t know if it’s because I’m older or I just don’t think it’s as hyped as it was so I don’t look forward to it as much, and have never watched it live and watched only a few parts of the conferences still mainly reading about it all (just online now) and watching demos. This year I think I might try and watch it live though and hype myself up for it like I used to.

  8. Save them up for one big exciting E3. Thought that does probably only suit the more hardcore gamers and not the devs, pubs, PRs and the games-buying public who don’t care about E3.

    It would also make compiling a list for E3 Bingo much simpler as I wouldn’t have to keep taking things off as they’re announced pre-E3.

  9. I have no problem with games being announced pre-E3, but I would prefer that the companies save a lot for E3 as the surprise announcements always make it more of a spectacle. For a game like BLOPS2 I don’t think an E3 announcement would’ve been any benefit though. Everyone knew that a new COD was coming so Acti did the right thing by giving it the exposure with its own launch. Admittedly a game like COD would stand out among the crowd at E3, but why risk it getting bogged down in the endless news cycles that inevitably happen.

  10. We’re used to getting most of the major reveals at the likes of E3 but as long as they still hold plenty back for that i don’t mind what they reveal beforehand.

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