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Who Won E3? From the Worst to the Best of 2014′s Shows

Conference

The big events of E3 2014 are over. Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Sony, and Nintendo have all presented their visions for the future of gaming. The show was a great win for us gamers, showcasing a decent ratio of new IPs to familiar but noticeably-improved sequels. Hardware took a backseat as us consumers were told why we should consider buying the latest and greatest consoles. But how did each of the big five stack up? Did they each live up to our expectations?

Here is my list of the worst to best E3 2014 press conferences. Sound off with your own opinions and on which show excited you the most!

Nintendo

There is no excuse for an event this bad. Besides showing Star Fox before their digital event, Nintendo were a complete disaster during their presentation. The video was poorly paced and spent an inordinate amount of time on niche spinoffs of their original franchises. The toy concept was cool, but had previously been announced. Nintendo appears to be continuing its focus on its fans and children, but I doubt whether children nowadays much care for their games when they have such easy access to mobile devices. The Zelda announcement was nice, but like too many of the games shown, we won’t be seeing more of it until 2015!

Nintendo didn’t move the needle at all this E3, which is truly concerning for the fortunes of the Wii U and, to a lesser extent, the 3DS. At least they didn’t lose the attention of their hardcore faithful.

C

 

Electronic Arts

Let’s be clear on something: most of the E3 press conferences were solid, premiering something exciting for everyone. Electronic Arts, however, did itself the most harm by noticeably deflating expectations as their show went on.

EA wasn’t in an enviable position going into E3. Of all of the presenters, they and Microsoft had to face up to and atone for severe grievances they had committed against their customers. The good thing is that EA recognized this, with their CEO, Andrew Wilson, taking the stage humbly and promising to make the development process more of a conversation between EA and its fans. It’s some of these gestures that went a little too far.

First off, the games. Star Wars: Battlefront, Dragon Age: Inquisition, a new Mass Effect game, a new BioWare IP, a new Criterion game, the expected sports games, a MOBA, and Battlefield: Hardline. A great lineup, right? On paper, yes.

Notice how many of those games don’t actually have titles. The new Mass Effect, BioWare IP, and Criterion game are all nameless because they’re well off in the distance. In fact, we didn’t even get a customary teaser trailer that would set up their premise and give us a title to chew over and get excited by. The best EA could give us was some “conceptual” footage and shallow commentary by developers that didn’t tell us much that we hadn’t already been told. As the conference went on, it actually became difficult for me to name the games that were coming this year besides the sports titles. Oh, right, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Battlefield: Hardline.

A great lineup, right? On paper, yes.

Wait, what about Star Wars: Battlefront? This is the BIGGEST game that EA has going for it. The fans and press were ready to lap everything up. What did we get?

Some non-gameplay footage and shallow commentary. EA then had the guts to tell us that they’d be sharing more… spring 2015. Yes, the next time that we’ll be seeing Battlefront is a year away. What a downer.

Enjoy! You won't be seeing more until next spring!

Enjoy! You won’t be seeing more until next spring!

Perhaps Battlefront was announced too early. I’m confident that, with the time DICE have had working on it, they’ll blow everyone away when they actually show off their passion project. It just wasn’t a very classy way to appease the fans.

The launch of the Battlefield: Hardline beta during the show was a stroke of brilliance and helped cushion some of the blow for the short term.

EA is promising us much potential and I’m genuinely excited for most of their games. The only problem is, are we still going to be waiting for most of these come 2016?

C+

 

Sony

Sony is riding high. 7 million PlayStation 4′s have been sold and the momentum shows no signs of slowing. Last year’s E3 show was a tour de force of confidence and corporate gamesmanship. Honestly, Sony didn’t have to do much to keep the ball rolling.

It was a good show. Starting with The Order: 1886 and showing a new angle to it was a necessary way to answer some of the recent criticism that that game has suffered. Sony once again gave a respectful nod to the importance of indie games, wrapping it in a clever segment that answered letters from the fans… and a certain eccentric developer. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was a great way to end the press conference.

Uncharted 4 looks so good that it's not surprising.

Uncharted 4 looks so good that it’s not surprising.

My two issues with Sony were a lack of surprises and a plodding pace. The biggest reveal, I felt, was meant to be that of Bloodborne, the new exclusive from the developers of Dark Souls. Unfortunately, it had already leaked a week earlier under the guise of Project Beast. Even LittleBigPlanet 3 was announced with little fanfare, abruptly popping up on stage, as if Sony was already apologizing for what looks to be a highly iterative sequel.

Too much time was spent on an animated series based on a comic book that no one who was watching the conference had ever heard of. Jack Tretton’s (the former President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America) replacement had little of his predecessor’s charisma and humble character. A discussion of routine additions to the PlayStation Network and the announcement of PlayStation TV could have been less of a drag on the middle of the show.

Sony didn’t up their game this E3, but they’re fine for now.

B

 

Microsoft

This was the big show. After many colossal mistakes, Microsoft had a chance to either further damage the fortunes of the Xbox One, or start to make up for all of their past transgressions. For the most part, they achieved the latter.

Phil Spencer told us how it was going to go down: all games, nothing else. The cheers from the audience were at a level unheard of last year. Even the small things, like announcing exclusive DLC BEFORE some of the games took the stage helped endear us to Microsoft’s apologetic tone.

A lot of the show played it safe. The biggest and safest announcement was Halo: The Master Chief Collection. A slickly-produced trailer kicked off a Halo segment that made it clear, if you hadn’t believed them earlier, that Halo is going to be a big deal for Microsoft in the coming years. The Collection itself is rather generous, with all four of the mainline Halo titles being brought over to the Xbox One, adding a new Halo short series, and access to this December’s Halo 5 beta. It was a great love letter to Xbox’s fans, especially when added to the new Crackdown announcement.

The Chief has never looked better.

The Chief has never looked better.

Sunset Overdrive poked fun at the grim tone of many games, such as that of the show starter, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. A few impressive indie games were shown, giving Microsoft a small foothold in that niche. Many third parties decided to team up with Microsoft this time to reveal their games and provide exclusive content. It was great to see the first cooperative gameplay from Assassin’s Creed: Unity.

All told, it was a safe show for Microsoft, with nothing too earth-shattering being announced. The show itself isn’t enough to put the wind back into Xbox One’s sails, but it was a solid platform to start from.

B+

 

Ubisoft

Oh, Ubisoft. With your strange personality and need to be different, it’s often a game of roulette whether or not your show is going to be a feast for the game-playing public or an opportunity for a collective facepalm. Thankfully, you truly impressed us this E3.

Ubisoft dares to be different. Thankfully.

Ubisoft dares to be different. Thankfully.

Kicking off with an antagonist who put on a chilling performance gave us confidence that Far Cry 4 wasn’t just going to be Far Cry 3 reskinned with some taller mountains. Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s gameplay had a member of the audience audibly shout his amazement at Ubisoft’s rendition of revolutionary France. Valiant Hearts actually got me to tear up. Tom Clancy’s The Division had the best cinematic trailer of all of E3. Rainbow Six: Siege gave the hardcore tactical shooter fans amongst us the first new game to cheer about since SWAT 4. Ubisoft showed off a variety of ambitious and expensive titles that all strayed from the dull bombastic cinematic shooting fests that have defined our age of gaming.

Ubisoft’s show was for the gamers. All of us, whether we own or want a PC, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One. They won. We won.

A

 

Which E3 conference was your favorite? Which totally bombed? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I'm Marcin. Technology lover. Marketing evangelist. I think video games are the greatest story telling and entertainment medium that we have had the pleasure of experiencing.

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