Ten Things We Learned At E3

I thought this was a great article from CVG, so without further ado...

1) Phil Spencer will make Xbox great again

Xbox fans: Sincere apologies for penning all that negative coverage for more than a year, but we have a duty to call it like it is. Major flaws had crept into nearly every aspect of the Xbox One and, ultimately, the console was on a disastrous path.

But Microsoft did not go softly into that good night. It gave Phil Spencer the authority to reassemble the console, and the Xbox business, into something that would restore people's faith. The payoff for that bold thinking is already evident, as demonstrated by Microsoft's focused and heartening E3 press conference, but we suspect even better days lie ahead.

Spencer has had to make brutal decisions in pursuit of creating a more competitive and appealing console. Removing Kinect, in particular, must have been painful considering the investment already poured into it. The message clear: Nothing is sacred in Microsoft's pursuit of building a games system that people love.

Nothing aside from games, of course, which is another reason why Spencer is the right man to take Xbox forward. He is a game-dev guy, rising up Microsoft's ranks as the head of its Studios division, and that degree of understanding will undoubtedly help teams working on Xbox projects.

Case in point: The new Gears of War, and why we didn't see it at E3. In a video interview with Gamespot (recommended viewing), Spencer explained the no-show:

"Sure, we could have put together something with no clear ship date or idea, but I didn't want to do that. I said, let's keep the team focused on getting the right idea, and when we're there and have a story to tell, we'll do that."

It's an encouraging sign that the new head of Xbox isn't preoccupied with quick fixes or pushing dev teams to waste time on opportune PR moments - instead he wants their creations to be the best they can possibly be.

If the Microsoft team sticks to this philosophy, then Xbox One and its customers have a prosperous future ahead.

2) Motherfucking profanity is in

A gold star to Ubisoft Montreal's Dan Hay for his impeccably delivered Far Cry 4 synopsis: "We'll give you a passport, some cash, a gun, and after that... well, you're fucked".

That marked the blue highlight of an E3 that was unusually peppered with curses and four-letter verbs. Even Nintendo flirted with an F-bomb ("Flocking"), while Aisha Tyler was swearing like a porn star during the Ubisoft press conference. Well fucking done.

3) Last gen is officially over

They had a good life. When you consider these machines have specs that were set in stone more than a decade ago, it's extraordinary that they've survived so long. Xbox 360 and its meagre half a gig of RAM is approaching its ninth year, with a few cross-gen games still coming, while the PS3 is now (finally) little more than a painful memory for Sony.

4) Digital press conferences are proving their worth

When Nintendo first announced it wasn't hosting a live-audience E3 press conference, some took it as a sign of the corporation's diminishing relevance.

But this year's Digital Event argued that Nintendo is, in fact, ahead of the curve. With a merry disobedience and in joyous defiance of all the negative headlines, the company put on a show that was genuinely funny, sharply written and in many cases impossible to do on a live stage.

Meanwhile, EA hosted a live conference that mixed on-stage autocue chat (how about those PVC lapels on Andrew Wilson's jacket!) with edited video packages. It was only here, when the two approaches were placed next to each other, that the contrast seemed so evident. Frightened men reading a script for the millionth time doesn't stand up too well next to tightly edited mini-documentaries.

If you still object to recorded press conferences, then we suggest you watch EA's all over again and ask yourself: At which points do you zone out, and at which points were you engaged?

5) No one is talking about Call of Duty anymore

"Have you seen the new Advanced Warfare trailer?" - That's the question no one asked this year at the Los Angeles Convention Centre.

Could this be a sign that Call of Duty, having already gone from FPS sensation to polemical blockbuster, is approaching the evolutionary dead-end-zone of irrelevance?

Certainly there's disillusionment from the core-gamer community. If you take a look at our CVG Readers' Game of E3 poll, Advanced Warfare isn't in first place, nor second, but 48th...

One shouldn't underestimate the appeal of Call of Duty, but it's telling that so many companies have backed away from the US Marine Hero shooter template. Even EA is taking one foot out of the genre.

Will this deafening silence translate to commercial capitulation? Probably not, considering there's tens of millions of Call of Duty fans who aren't the typical E3-goer or, for that matter, the typical video game fan.

But Activision and its three Call of Duty studios won't sit comfortable knowing their golden goose has, inarguably, lost some of its shine.

6) 2014 has been delayed

While there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about projects in development, the vast majority of the most exciting games won't arrive in 2014.

In fact it was surprising to see so many games at such an early stage of production, to the extent that there isn't even in-game footage yet. Uncharted 4, Mass Effect 3, Battlefront 3, Mirror's Edge, Crackdown, Phantom Dust, Scalebound; these games might not even be ready for 2015.

Meanwhile, 2014 blockbusters Batman Arkham Knight, The Division and The Order: 1886 have been pushed to the early months of 2015 - the same year that you'll get to play Zelda Wii U, Rainbow Six Siege and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Metal Gear solid V, meanwhile, is still missing a launch window.

I suppose getting used to eighteen-month development cycles has spoilt us rotten. Building new-generation games from scratch requires a staggering level of exertion, and E3 proved that the industry simply isn't capable of going fast right now.

7) No one 'won' E3

It almost seems like tradition for at least one of the platform holders to shoulder the burden of a catastrophic E3 press conference, but this year all three put in great shows for different reasons. Microsoft rolled out a staggering number of triple-A games, Sony paraded its enhanced support from third parties and Nintendo was rebelliously jovial and played its best Zelda card.

So perhaps it's fairer to say all three companies won E3 this year, which in the wider context of the games industry's fight for relevance, is brilliant news for core gamers and a relief for executives. There's still a lot of business to be done.
8) The industry is still a boys' club

This year it was Ubisoft that was engulfed by accusations of female discrimination, but in truth it could have been scores of other games companies that would have folded had the same prosecutorial question been put to them.

For its extraordinarily inapt excuse for not including female characters, yes, Ubisoft deserves to be told exactly where it's going wrong. But for excluding female playable characters in an action game, Ubisoft is just a name on a long list of offenders.

There is an element of randomness to the flare-ups regarding gender inequality - and it's a haphazardness that actually isn't helpful - but that's only because this problem is rife. You can watch any E3 press conference, and nearly every game trailer, and it wouldn't at all be apparent that women love games and love to make them. Which, for a games industry that is supposed to be looking outwards, is shameful.

For Ubisoft - a company who has appointed Jade Raymond to a senior exec role, and one that put a female on the cover of an Assassin's Creed game - it's a bad day at the office. For the industry, it's a widespread problem that won't go away.

9) The line between triple-A and indie is blurring

In an interview with CVG in 2012, Hello Games managing director Sean Murray predicted that indie games would no longer have their own corner of a console's digital store, but would instead be competing on the same space as triple-A games.

A quick look at the PS Store front page makes it abundantly clear that his theory has come true. But there's more to it. Murray and his small team at Hello Games is developing No Man's Sky - a science fiction game set in an infinite, procedurally generated universe, featuring irresistibly exotic and otherworldly habitats.

This game is, demonstrably, stealing thunder from triple-A studios. On CVG's Game of E3 reader poll, No Man's Sky sits in seventh at the time of writing, ahead of Uncharted 4, Metal Gear Solid V and Destiny. Five years ago this would have been unthinkable, and it's a foretoken of things to come.

10) You're going to need more friends
Online co-op was surprisingly dominant at E3 this year. We had eight-player Xbox One indie games, six-player raids in Destiny, four-player Fable missions, Sunset overdrive's 8 player chaos mode, Splatoon's 4v4 battle modes, along with The Division and Battlefield Hardline's co-op missions. Far Cry 4, meanwhile, allows co-op buddies to join a mission even if they don't own the game.

How can one explain this mysterious burst of co-op modes? Perhaps it comes from discussions that publishers and developers had a few years ago, when trying to outline what makes a game seem next-gen, and deciding that online co-op is the clearest sign of progress. Or perhaps it's aided by the platform holders, who offer a host of online services for free but charge people to play online.

Or, certainly in the case of Far Cry 4, perhaps it's a case of letting the player become the advocate and advertiser of games. At E3, Sony's Jim Ryan told us that Far Cry 4's free multiplayer was, in fact, part of a wider system wide functionality that will apply to many more games.

But just maybe it's as simple as this: games are simply more fun with friends.

Other notes:
  • 1) Don't release a game in the middle of a press conference. Sorry, Entwined.
  • 2) Remember handhelds?
  • 3) Leather jacket and shorts. WTF.

  • 6) We miss Tretton
  • 7) Shawn Layden is cool though (capiche?)
  • 8) Miyamoto's life affirming smile

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Well-Known Member
I disagree Nintendo won E3 hands down !!!

Remember, before E3, The Wii U was considered a dead console.
I even said the Wii U successor would be unveiled next year.
ALL the chatter in the industry was around the PS4 vs Xbox One as if the Wii U was already dead.

And to be fair, I don't blame the people ( including myself ) who believed the Wii U was dead.
Nintendo shared very few info on the Wii U since the January 2013 Nintendo Direct.
Even during E3 2013, we had less info than during that January 2013 Direct.
Then there was the rumors of new hardware.
And there was the COMPLETE absence of 3rd party games. Even Ubisoft, one of the strongest Wii U supporter, vanished from the Wii U scene.

Now, after this E3 what do we have ? We have a three horses race for Next Gen ( or this gen ).
Nintendo has a clear roadmap now, that indicates WITHOUT a doubt, that they firmly investing in the Wii U.
The rest of 2014, doesn't look that bad : Captain Toad, Hyrule Warriors, Devil's Third, Bayonetta 2 and Smash 4/Amiibo.
And 2015 looks INSANE : Mario Maker, Yoshy Wooly, Kirby Canvas, Mario Party 10, Splatoon, Xenoblade Chronicles X and the goat, Zelda Wii U !
And we now KNOW that Starfox, Metroid and FE x SMT are alos in the pipeline.
Besides we still need to hear about the Nintendo american studios : Retro, Monster Games, NST and Next Level Games...

Of course I'm not saying here that the Wii U will catch the PS4 or will sell as the Wii.
What I'm saying is that Nintendo put clearly HUGE efforts to make the Wii U relevant again and they succeed !
That said, they still need to address the lack of 3rd party games and the price of the console.

Again, Nintendo won E3 2014, not even debatable...
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