E3 2014 is now in the bag and we can take a look back to see who won, who lost and who was outright lost at the biggest expo of the year.
It’s at this point you’d ask “Won what?” and that’s a great question. After all, it’s the games that matter at E3 and those are the things that net awards. So apologies to Sony if it thought trash-talking the competition was a smooth entry into first place.
For the first time in a while, it was difficult to choose a clear-cut winner among games for E3. Nearly every single title that we were looking forward to (aside from the ones that didn’t appear) managed to impress in some way or another. Even unannounced games like Entwined, Ori and The Blind Forest, Inside and Rainbow 6: Siege made their mark on attendees. If you sought out more information about the big releases like Batman: Arkham Knight, Destiny, Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Tom Clancy’s The Division and so on, you were equally covered there.
"In terms of the big two - Microsoft and Sony - both sides managed to match each other with high octane exclusives and reveals. For Halo: The Master Chief Collection, there was Uncharted 4: A Thief's End."
Heck, even the indie scene wasn’t half bad this year with Microsoft showing the fruits of its ID@Xbox initiative and Sony unveiled Entwined. It bears mentioning though that Sony’s indie push this year was nowhere near the level of last year. The PlayStation Vita at this point feels as much like an afterthought as ever despite the fact that some big name games like Minecraft and Child of Light are on the way.
In terms of the big two – Microsoft and Sony – both sides managed to match each other with high octane exclusives and reveals. For Halo: The Master Chief Collection, there was Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. For Ori and The Blind Forest, there was Entwined. For Sunset Overdrive, there was No Man’s Sky. For the exclusive Evolve beta on Xbox One, Sony had access to the Battlefield: Hardline beta (which also went to PC). Sony might have faltered by taking an extra half hour to talk about crap no one cared about but the extra information on PS Now was a long time coming.
If you thought Nintendo would be far behind in this exchange, especially with reports of poor sales and mounting losses due to the Wii U, the company bounced back in a big way. It showed off more Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS along with announcements for Zelda, Star Fox, Yoshi and much more. Monolith Soft even made an appearance to reveal Xenoblade Chronicles while Platinum’s Bayonetta 2 was dated for the Wii U. And yes, we will admit that even Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker looks pretty interesting. The only real criticism against Nintendo Direct for E3 was that the 3DS wasn’t given as much attention as the Wii U. It gets enough attention as is though so we’re fine with that.
So neither Microsoft nor Sony nor Nintendo really faltered at this year’s E3. All the third party publishers like Ubisoft, Square-Enix, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, 2K Games, Activision and so on had great showings. In effect, everyone was a winner at E3. Even Valhalla Games and Tomonobu Itagaki is a winner because Devil’s Third is coming to the Wii U after being in development for several years.
"What did EA devote time to? Why, sports of course! Who doesn't want two trailers each for Madden NFL 15, FIFA 15, NHL 15 and EA Sports PGA Tour?"
Who lost then? Why, the answer was simple: EA.
There are various layers of discussion to be had ongoing behind the scenes and showing a game in early development. There is a lot to be said about simply acknowledging the existence of a new IP or game, while revealing slight tidbits about it. It’s almost like they showed us a CG teaser or a simple announcement trailer.
So why in the world didn’t EA just do that with its top releases?
This E3 was supposed to be the show that Mass Effect 4 finally got its official name. The official name for Mass Effect 4 has been a subject of discussion for months now and unlike some developers who publicly acknowledged the rumours and hype surrounding the games to be revealed, EA chose to ignore it and present some “conceptual prototype” images. Mirror’s Edge? Prototype footage. Star Wars: Battlefront? Prototype footage. Criterion Games? Early alpha footage coupled with live-action shots of what the game might have, which might as well have been a montage of Criterion’s last vacation.
What did EA devote time to? Why, sports of course! Who doesn’t want two trailers each for Madden NFL 15, FIFA 15, NHL 15 and EA Sports PGA Tour? The last one especially miffed us because EA actually wanted to sell us on playing golf during a Battlefield 4 match. There’s an obvious rib on us somewhere in there and if so, it was a failure for not being ironic enough. Sure, The Sims 4 seemed marginally interesting but we weren’t watching EA’s conference to see the B-list titles and sports games hog the stage.
"Throughout its media briefing, EA managed to prove that it somehow had no clue whatsoever what gamers, much less journalists, wanted to see."
Ubisoft was far smarter than this – it inserted Shape Up and Just Dance 2015 in between its biggest name trailers as cool down spots. Why did EA simply present one dead sports spot after another? Why didn’t it just showcase information Titanfall’s June update at the media briefing itself? Did the shots of Criterion operating wing-suits really need to be thrown in? Apparently so.
Throughout its media briefing, EA managed to prove that it somehow had no clue whatsoever what gamers, much less journalists, wanted to see. By the time Battlefield: Hardline and its Heist mode were revealed, it was already too late to feel enthused. The announcement that the beta would be available from that point on for PS4 and PC was little remedy as well. It’s almost sad that Dragon Age: Inquisition was lost in the entire shuffle because it looked great. Why not show more footage from that? You’d have to ask EA why we needed to know that DICE are big fans of Star Wars instead.
In summation, this year’s E3 was the year that everyone – yes, everyone – managed to shine in the time they were given except for EA at its own media briefing. Say what you will about the rest of the year but EA has some major work to do in improving its standing after this debacle.