It’s such a small and petty argument to have, but the notion of one particular company “winning” E3 crops up each and every year. It’s driven by the fanboy attitude and playground politics of a console owner whose greatest desire is that the hardware manufacturer they’ve chosen to support is able to wow them with new announcements and games that are somehow able to best those of rival manufacturers.
Now everybody is getting in on the action, with press conferences for many of the biggest companies in the games industry. EA and Ubisoft have been joined by Bethesda and Square Enix, to sit alongside and compliment their featured appearances at the main Sony and Microsoft events. Nintendo’s step to having a simple Nintendo Direct broadcast was greatly expanded upon with a bonanza of other events, including the return of the Nintendo World Championship, and then there was the grab bag of the PC Gaming Show. It all added up to a seemingly non-stop event that meant that, while they all had very different approaches, there were realistically no losers, only winners.
Of course, the last decade has really been dominated by the rivalry between Sony and Microsoft, and you could see some of that back and forth at play here as well. Microsoft are still very much on the back foot in this generation, even as the Xbox One manages to outperform the Xbox 360, but they really came out swinging with a very strong line up of games to close out 2015, as well as major announcements for the console as a whole.
Halo 5: Guardians, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Fable Legends and Forza 6 are all strong game series that make the Xbox One a much more appealing platform to invest in, but with the huge announcement of backward compatibility to the Xbox 360’s vast catalogue of games – which is a truly impressive piece of software engineering – there’s nothing stopping you from upgrading.
They also looked to the future, with Rare’s return to form with Sea of Thieves and a new Gears of War game announced, but Microsoft’s focus was really on 2015. Sony, by contrast, have admitted that the end of 2015 will be a slow one in terms of exclusives, and this certainly coloured their press conference.
The Last Guardian, Shenmue 3 and a Final Fantasy VII remake have been the stuff of dreams for the last few years, with only a re-announcement of Agent missing from Adam Boyes’ checklist of wish fulfilment. But that wasn’t all, as Media Molecule were finally ready to present Dreams, an evolved form of that raw tech demo – nicknamed by us as Puppet Rock Band – that was shown at the PS4 announcement, Guerrilla Games’ new IP, Horizon Zero Dawn, takes the studio in an exciting new direction that blends pre-history with the far flung future, and plenty more.
The defining characteristic was that this was Sony showing us what to be excited for in 2016 and beyond. It was necessary for them to do so, but this was really a starry eyed look into the more distant future, rather than what you’ll be able to play any time soon. Not so with the third parties, though.
Bethesda dropped the bombshell that Fallout 4 would be out this year, while Square Enix’s new Hitman game and Just Cause 3 both land in December. EA wowed with their gameplay footage from Star Wars: Battlefront, and the Rainbow Six: Siege demo from Ubisoft also looked mightily impressive. The end of 2015 is going to be jam packed with games from these major publishers, but so too is the start of 2016 with Doom, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst – which looks and sounds fantastic – The Division and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
There were, of course, a few low points and disappointments. It was sad, but positive to see Ubisoft acknowledging the bad press they’ve had over the last 12 months, and although Square Enix’ lineup of games and renewed focus on RPGs is fantastic, their conference itself dragged.
Nintendo also disappointed, with few announcements to be excited by. However, this is a company heading into another transitionary period, as the Wii U fades and the amiibo rises, while the ‘NX’ console lurks on the edge of your vision. Their Nintendo Direct was poorly received, but the party atmosphere and the celebration of fun was clear to see through the brilliant muppets used to open their E3 stream and their 25th anniversary Nintendo World Championships – if there’s one single person who won E3, it would surely have to be John Numbers, the 2015 Nintendo World Champion.
Yet there were notable omissions across the board. Bethesda confirmed Dishonored 2, but little else, Microsoft deliberately held back on showing Crackdown or Quantum Break – though they did present an impressive HoloLens demo with Minecraft – Sony had relatively little to say about Morpheus at this point, while EA and Ubisoft had things like Visceral’s Star Wars game and Watch Dogs 2 that have been kept waiting in the wings.
Even then, this E3 has been marked by a truly astonishing number of announcements that were deemed not worthy of the stage time. It has been, to put it bluntly, exhausting. The mad rush to announce games in advance of E3 so as not to be lost in the mad rush that is E3 merely served to create a chaotic and impossible to follow frenzy of game announcements. At the same time, it was all quite simply fantastic for gamers who are always looking for something new and exciting to play.
So who won E3 this year? We did, the gamers.
While I’ve aired my thoughts on this year’s E3 in this blog post, you too have the opportunity to share your view on the E3 conferences with this week’s WeView asking you to share your personal highlights and impressions of the show.
If you need any reminders or are looking to catch up on what’s going on, we’ve a list of all the important news and trailers from the last few days.