Why Should Gamers Be Disappointed With E3 2014?
The five key conferences of E3 2014 have now been and gone, and there’s a greater sense of apathy towards the industry’s biggest event of the year.
The reasons differ from person to person: some hated Sony talking about TV programme Powers for what seemed like an eternity, while others didn’t like Microsoft’s focus on talking about games we already knew about.
But there’s a common thread between all the complaints, and that’s one of disappointment.
That’s not to say there wasn’t anything to get excited about. Crackdown 3 and an exclusive Platinum Games title for Microsoft; Bloodbound, LittleBigPlanet 3 and Uncharted 4 for Sony and Rainbow Six: Siege from Ubisoft.
So where has this antagonism come from? We look at each of the five E3 2014 conferences, talk about what happened and what went wrong and – perhaps – even try and figure out who ‘won’.
Cause that’s all anyone cares about, right?
Microsoft’s E3 2014 Conference
Microsoft was super careful with its E3 conference this year. After something of a disastrous show last year, it was important Microsoft didn’t slip up in the eyes of the gamer.
So Phil Spencer came out humble and apologetic: ‘we care about what you think’, he claimed, ‘you’re helping us make Xbox One awesome’.
It’s easy to be lulled into the siren song here, but that wasn’t the problem. Microsoft has spent so long hopped up on arrogance it needs a bit of humility.
No, Microsoft’s problem was the games – and for two reasons.
First was the fact that a huge portion of the early part of the show was spent discussing or demoing games we already knew about. Call Of Duty, Forza Horizon 2, Sunset Overdrive, Evolve and Assassin’s Creed Unity were the key titles of the conference.
And we’d already heard of all of them before. New gameplay was shown and that made the likes of Assassin’s Creed Unity very much appreciated, but the conference still suffered from a lack of surprise, that sudden sense of oh-my-god-this-is-the-game-I’ve-been-waiting-for excitement that we all long for while watching E3 2014.
Of the new announcements, Microsoft also suffered at the hands of leaked info. Everyone and their aunts knew Crackdown 3 would be there, somehow, while leaks of the name ‘Rise Of The Tomb Raider’ just before E3 2014 told us everything we needed to know.
On paper Microsoft had a very solid showing – and it was respectable – but everyone longs for a little bit of excitement at E3 2014, and Microsoft struggled to really provide that.
EA’s E3 2014 Conference
By far the worst conference of the show, EA’s problem was unique because – in theory at least – it had the potential to be the most exciting.
New details on Star Wars: Battlefront 3, Mirror’s Edge 2, Mass Effect 4 and even famed-developer Criterion’s next title all featured – yet what do we actually know about any of these games now, after the conference?
The most exciting thing it had was the revelation of Battlefield: Hardline’s PS4 and PC beta, which went live during the conference.
It created that sense of surprise and excitement we all want, and even led to crashing both Origin and PSN.
But again, we kind of already knew about Battlefield: Hardline thanks to all those leaks. It was still pretty exciting to see in action, but perhaps we’re not the only ones who thought it seemed like a bloody cool mod for Battlefield 4 than a completely new idea.
EA pitched its conference as offering an insight into the development of its games; which is commendable. It’s easy to understand that if there isn’t anything to show, then don’t show anything – other games have been criticised at other E3s for that very problem, after all.
But if you’re talking to the developers about the game, get them to cough up some details. Why not drop some deets on what might happen in Mass Effect 4? Tell us what is new in Mirror’s Edge 2, not the reason Faith has a tattoo around her eye.
The most exciting thing about EA’s press conference was the in-engine footage of Star Wars: Battlefront 3, which perhaps says everything there is to say.
Ubisoft’s E3 2014 Conference
Ubisoft shared the similar problem whereby it didn’t really have much to announce. It had a stellar opening in the form of Far Cry 4, but after that it was hard for Ubi to stay consistent.
Why Ubisoft thinks every year that anyone watching its E3 conference is a fan of Just Dance we’ll never know. It’s always met with scorn.
And to add to that we also had Shape Up, a fitness game for Xbox One that gamifies exercise. It’s a decent concept, but it’s not why gamers tune into E3. Not even nearly.
Even the games that should’ve garnered some excitement failed to after already appearing at Microsoft’s conference a few hours earlier – in some cases with less exciting details during Ubi’s own conference.
Take The Division, for example, which had new gameplay during Microsoft’s conference, but only a moody CG trailer during the Ubisoft conference.
Assassin’s Creed Unity’s co-op mode was officially unveiled during Microsoft – and it looked gorgeous too – yet while new gameplay was on show during the Ubi conference, it didn’t share the same excitement. We’d already seen next-gen gameplay, after all.
It was all resolved with the announcement of Rainbow Six: Siege, the tactical multiplayer shooter. It was unexpected and exciting, showing a tense – if not heavily scripted – battle of wits.
It was new and that was enough. That’s what we want to see from E3, and Ubisoft was smart to leave it until last. Did that good feeling make up for the mixed conference? Not quite, but it gave us all something to talk about – and that is really what E3 is about.
Sony’s E3 2014 Conference
Initially it’d be easy to claim Sony had the best conference, since it at least had a handful of surprises.
The biggest was by far Bloodborne, the PS4 exclusive that everyone is genuinely excited about – mostly because of its heritage as a Demon’s Souls spiritual successor.
Elsewhere the unexpected reveal of LittleBigPlanet 3 might have taken some aback – even if the game itself lacked anything truly exciting – while news friends without a copy of Far Cry 4 can be invited into your game to play alongside them was pretty interesting, if only for the potential of this feature becoming more of a staple in the future.
Dead Island 2, Magicka 2, an unexpected Grim Fandango remake, Suda51’s Let It Die and official confirmation of Uncharted 4 all gave us something new to see – even if they weren’t the huge names we all wanted.
And no, God Of War was never going to be there – despite the rumours otherwise.
Another big reveal was GTA 5 officially announced for next-gen consoles. It was obviously angled heavily towards the PS4, but it gave gamers enough of a reason to get excited about the conference – even if the game itself wasn’t exclusive.
But then Sony spent half an hour talking about entertainment and services, about PS Plus and PS Now that – while interesting features – was just a little boring and went on too long.
Was anyone really that bothered that graphic novel series Powers would be coming as a TV series exclusively to PS4? We’d expect no.
Add in the fact that the games that were shown weren’t exactly show-busters – Bloodborne aside – and it sullied what could’ve been an amicable, if not overlong, conference from Sony.
Nintendo’s E3 2014 Conference
Using its digital event method once again, Nintendo was comfortable as it set about listing a bunch of new games.
The Legend Of Zelda was by far the best thing on show. Expected, yes, and perhaps not all that original, but it’s open-world, it looks gorgeous (even for an underpowered console, amirite?) and sounds like it could be doing something different for the series.
Believe it or not.
There was Bayonetta, Smash Bros and confirmation of a new Star Fox. Obvious money maker Skylanders-alike Amiibo figurines, cutesy Yoshi’s Woolly World and even the long-overdue Mario Maker.
There was a whole load of stuff for Nintendo fans, and even something new in Splatoon – a sort-of-shooter about spaffing ink everywhere, rather than getting kills for points.
Out of the lot, Nintendo’s conference was the most consistent – plenty of new announcements, some exciting new things and even some developer insight.
But Nintendo has to fight a lot of bad blood from gamers on the internet these days, and until it announces a new IP – or something completely innovative for the Wii U – it’s just not going to able to appeal to anyone but the hardcore Nintendo fans.
And to be fair, outside of the fanboy glee of seeing a high-definition Link and his fancy new bow, there wasn’t all that much to surprise. Kirby looked nice, but brand new? No.
Even Mario Maker – as obvious as it is – suffered by being late to the part (LittleBigPlanet says hi).
Fun is what Nintendo was trying to sell, and it managed to get that message across, but it wasn’t exactly a runaway success at E3 2014 for the beleaguered developer.
So Who Won E3 2014?
Well, no one, really.
The sad truth is there just wasn’t much to get excited about from any of the conferences.
Many of us went into E3 2014 expecting more – perhaps too much – since the lack of games for the next-gen consoles has left us all feeling a little disheartened.
So having very little ‘new’ to tantalise us, and most of those games that are new aren’t out until 2015 at the earliest – so we’ve still some time to wait.
Disappointment is perhaps the only word for it, and every conference host was as lacking – in one way or another – as the last.