The E3 Expo in Los Angeles is a banner event on the world gaming calendar. Love it or hate it, there are few times during the year where gamers and industry heavyweights alike turn such a voracious eye on the near future of gaming. With E3 2017 still fresh in everyone’s minds, here are three observations of the expo from each of the Surprise Attack Games managers…
Fiona (Finance Manager)
1. The Metroid Prime 4 announcement made me very happy. “Now in development” means we won’t actually be seeing the game for ages but for awhile there it felt like they’d given up on Samus after the disaster that was Other M so it’s nice to know that something is in the works.
2. I’m usually happy to catch up with major announcements after the press conferences, but I always look forward to Sony. It’s the only one that’s on at a time that doesn’t involve staying up all night and being able to watch it all happen live in the office with the team is a lot of fun.
3. I know E3 is supposed to be all about the hype and it’s a fun spectacle to behold but my feelings are generally of cautious optimism. That said, there’s a lot I’ll be keen to check out when it arrives such as Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Anthem and Super Mario Odyssey (because of course I’ll have to pick up a Switch eventually for Metroid).
Steve (Production Manager)
1. I noticed a huge shift in the way we consume E3. While Nintendo pioneered the idea of direct to consumers with their Treehouse events, seeing Microsoft utilise their new streaming service, Mixer, was great. It wasn’t just Microsoft either, though. IGN, Gamespot and Giant Bomb were all multi-casting via their own sites Twitch and Mixer which made hearing different interviews and opinions on the show floor so easy.
2. Microsoft’s dream of creating a platform service with the Xbox brand is finally coming to fruition, and to see Phil Spencer and the team deliver something great with their commitment to backwards compatibility and support of legacy platforms is really making Microsoft my platform of choice these days. I envision them heading towards an Apple-esque model where the Xbox is an optional console to play your huge collection of games, while they also support Windows users with the same experiences. Now that the platform is in place, I’m looking forward to seeing the in-house franchises we might see from them as they shift their focus to games.
3.The hype train is still real. Nintendo literally released a trailer that had the number 4 on it, and the Metroid logo, and the internet LOST THEIR MIND. It was a consummate reveal that made me realise that there wasn’t really much new or exciting to come out of E3, but rather another year of endless sequels and DLC with a smattering of interesting new franchises.
Marla (Marketing Manager)
1. E3 felt like a very different event this year. To a certain extent it was because I watched it and consumed it differently, however this only highlighted the shift in my perceptions more succinctly. It felt strangely obvious and and weirdly contrived. While overall there were announcements which left me excited and helped me get on the hype train, the new news still didn’t feel particularly new, didn’t feel particularly groundbreaking. In fact, it left with an overwhelming feeling that E3 represents only a small subsection of our industry. A subsection that relies on the hype of iterations of franchises and things we have seen before. This isn’t necessarily a negative, but it left me with the feeling that E3 is only a small representation of the games industry as it is today and neglects a huge, extremely exciting and creative section that fails to get the same level of ‘hype’ or coverage as the franchise blockbusters or first party publishers.
2. Similar to previous E3’s, everyone lifted their game when it came to delivering news “direct to consumers”. But it felt like E3 developed an identity crisis. The content was delivered so swiftly to consumers with influencers such as streamers taking centre stage that the lines between ‘news’ and ‘hype’ felt distinctly blurred. I found the amount of content overwhelming, difficult to discover amid a sea of attention grabbing content and quickly got information fatigue.
3. The audience E3 is looking to attract is shifting. As is the purpose behind the event. This was the first year where E3 was officially open to the public, a direct consequence of the audience shift which has been happening over the last couple of years. This is not only exciting in anticipation of how they will shape the event but more so, how the industry shapes how we deliver news, new content and info. E3 will continue to shape itself for the audience it attracts, which leaves an exciting gap for the industry to tap into the huge audience which falls outside this target group.
Chris (Managing Director
1. E3 is always a reminder that, holy shit, there are a lot of games and the games industry is crazy big. However, this year felt more than ever that E3 is also just one very particular slice of the industry and the part that gets most press attention but isn’t at all representative of the whole industry anymore.
2. It felt like indies in particular got less attention and less of a platform this year. Microsoft did a good job of making ID@Xbox a big part of its presentation but with all the new AAA IP getting announced, the variety that indies have provided to E3 in the last few years seems to have been provided by big games instead. It’s nice that new IP and creativity is coming through in AAA but it’s a shame that the profile given to indies in previous years is diminishing.
3. I also noticed just how quickly I got information overload this year. I was pretty much done after the press conferences and navigating the major websites to try to find info on interesting games was pretty off-putting.
Justine (Community Manager)
1. I love seeing my Twitter timeline absolutely buzzing during E3. It’s a great atmosphere to see people from all different walks of life freaking out about the same game announcement at the same time.
2. However, this year’s E3 was disappointingly not as “gif-able” as previous years. Most companies played it pretty safe with their press conferences. I miss the Peggle 2 guy…
3. Ooblets is a game I am hugely excited for, and I was fortunate enough to have a quick chat with the lead designer at GDC. It was incredible to witness such a humble game broadcast on the giant screen during Xbox’s press conference, and it just goes to show how far indie developers can go with a lot of passion and persistence.
Drew (Communications Manager)
1. It used to be that everyone got excited for the same games. This year, in my conversations about E3 with friends, I noticed that very few of our ‘hype’ games were the same. There’s a fantastic diversity of content coming through, and we’re all excited for different things. Sometimes, the same game for different reasons.
2. E3 as an event is changing, and this year marked a fundamental shift in identity. Not only did the ESA allow 15,000 public consumers in, but with the highest attendance in over a decade, the ESA has decided that, in the future “the show would reduce the number of passes granted to media, analysts, influencers, streamers, games industry professionals and others associated with it” (source: Polygon). That’s certainly going to shake up the audience and the type of coverage and content we get out of E3!
3. This was the year that streamers and YouTubers were given a chance to take to the centre stage. Some froze, some got awkward, but a number did a good job and took the world spotlight in their stride. Whichever way it played out, that hosting experience was invaluable and showed an investment by publishers in contracting ‘the new media’. Expect to see more, and better.