My First E3 Watching Everything (so far)

E3 2018 logo

E3 is something that comes around every year as the place where the biggest companies in video games get together and announce things, tell us what they’re up to, and brag about all the cool things they bought.

Typically I don’t watch much of it, if anything. Most video games don’t interest me and even when they do, I’d rather just read the news later than watch lengthy conferences full of nonsense. I don’t really see any value in getting to watch a new commercial live. If you’re into that, cool, but it’s not going to put the game in my hands.

Anyway for the most part I’m not here to talk about the games themselves. I’m not watching it for the games. I’m here to watch how they present these things. Every year I see people complain about how terrible it is, or make jokes about it, and I never really sat down to watch pretty much everything. I’ve caught Sony and Nintendo once in a while, and Nintendo seems to know exactly how to be entertaining and relevant to what the people are here for and Sony is generally pretty damn watchable. These other guys? Can’t say I even remember hearing much about them but one thing that stands out is that time Microsoft announced the Xbox One and made it all about how good it is at watching TV. A brand new game console you want people to buy and you focus on how it can compete with a cable box? Ok then.

The first conference was EA. EA is notorious in the wider gaming community for being a company that people just Don’t like. They’ve won plenty of awards for being the Worst Company of the Year over many companies that have made the world a lot worse than release bad video games. That’s how much people hate EA. For EA to be the first presenter and get what they want to say out of the way first? That’s something I can respect. No one else was having a conference on that day so if you hate EA, you can just skip worrying about E3 for the entire day… or just have a blast making fun of them.

As for the conference itself, it was very fine. I’d give it a passable grade. They seem to know how to present things in a way that just doesn’t really bother me at all. The silliest thing was when they wanted to show off a new mobile game and had people in some live head to head action and even that felt like a good way to show off the game. There’s probably things that fell flat but as someone not really interested in what EA has to offer themselves, nothing really felt memorable enough to talk about.

The next started with Microsoft. I really have to say, their overall format was great. It was pretty much spamming trailers. The one issue with that format is it makes any time people come out to talk feel like a big waste of time. It’s not like they say anything that matters. Because it was mostly just trailers, it’s really easy for me to remember all the parts that weren’t trailers and how terrible they were.

First off is the “live” gameplay. We all know this gameplay isn’t really live; it’s not a bad thing; it’s too risky to have live gameplay of a game that’s still in development. I think the purpose of showing people “playing” the game is to impress ignorant business people; “wow they got it to work that well already? wow amazing” but no one in the industry who actually works on games is going to believe it and none of the Gamers out there are buying it either. Who is this for? I guess people used to demand gameplay footage. I used to have the attitude that trailers sucked, just show me gameplay. Now I realize that E3 isn’t about the games, it’s about the show. The games are part of the show, but gameplay can be shown off whenever, it kinda breaks the pacing of the show. Microsoft’s gameplay examples really showed this. They had some Forza ‘gameplay’ that was constantly cutting between different footage so I’m not sure who it was convincing was real footage and then some generic shooter game that made me feel not like “I want this game” but more like “I think I already have this game?” It was some staged co-op scenario that not only didn’t make the game look interesting but just made an otherwise well-paced conference drag.

At some point in the conference they announced a bunch of acquisitions. Is it exciting for people to see a big company brag about all the companies it bought? I don’t know. Maybe if you’re buying stock in them? LOL. I guess it’s good to know if you’re into any of these companies (I have no idea who any of them are) but it just felt all around pretty silly to me. However, this is definitely a good place to do that kind of thing at, so while I can’t say I was really into it I can’t really dock any points for it being here.

The other thing that stood out was when they had a fake-out ‘this is over’ moment where surprise! The conference was Hacker hacked and we got a Cyberpunk 2077 trailer. The fake hack thing was super tacky and like not even a good way to show off a game? I guess they want to go for some kind of “oh and one more thing” Apple-esque kinda thing, but meh. It’s a good way to draw attention to a game that *might* be overlooked I suppose, but at least in this case I don’t really feel like the people who would otherwise not be into the game got anything pushing them towards buying it out of that kinda segment.

Bethesda had a conference a few hours later. I’ve seen a lot of people really excited for their stuff during and after the conference, and I guess you would be if it was your kinda thing. Like I said before I’m not in this for the games, just the show. And the show itself? Absolutely miserable showing. I’m not sure the point of a live music performance for a crowd that isn’t into it that’s live streamed? They had some video showing off that We’re A Company Check Us Out kinda thing that I would absolutely loathe to be a part of if I worked for them. The crowd wasn’t really into ANYTHING and almost nobody they had out there could speak much worth a damn. They would have been better off just showing the games. The only stand out was Todd Howard who not only clearly had material to work with to be entertaining but also just seemed like he knew exactly what he was doing there the entire time. I’m not sure if it’s really a plus though, because it just lets us know that if they had a Todd Howard out there the entire time, it could have been a great conference. Instead we just get something that feels like second hand embarrassment for 2 hours.

Immediately after that, Devolver Digital had their conference. They went full in on entertainment. This is a gamble because you might not be into them poking fun at how the other conferences are run or their over the top wackyness. For me, after Bethesda’s mess of a conference though? Loved it. Just all around felt fun even though I don’t think I cared at all for the grand total of 3 games they showed. Good on them for trying to do a fun thing though.

The next day Square Enix did a conference. It was another pre-recorded thing and it was just a quick half hour of pure content. This is the best way to do this kind of thing. Loved it. Full stars. Can’t even talk about anything here.

As I’m writing this, Limited Run Games is doing a thing on some kind of weird virtual stage. It’s maily just trailers for stuff they’re giving physical releases, there isn’t much time spent on the virtual stage. The virtual stage is pretty funny though. Can’t really complain here.

A lot of people are saying this is the Best E3 Ever and it just might be. But honestly I don’t think I’m getting too much out of watching it Live. You’d think an entertainment industry event would be better at being entertaining LOL. but if you care about the games you’re just gonna get a lot more out of reading what was announced after the fact. However that being said, it’s still fun to shout things with friends while this is going on, so if you got a fun group to do that with, I’d recommend it. If you don’t you should check out Minus World!

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