OPINION: Nobody “Wins” E3 Except Us

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

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E3 Logo

Every year, after the press conferences air, the Internet is set ablaze by discussions about who has “won” E3. Each person has different criteria for who won, but ultimately, it all comes down to whose presentation hyped them for the games they have coming out throughout the next year or two. Last year, many people claimed a Nintendo victory as Microsoft and Sony failed to step up to the plate completely while Nintendo highlighted a host of new titles, pumped Super Smash Bros. and amiibo, teased Zelda Wii U, and so on. This year, many people say Sony won E3, thanks to their trifecta of blasts from the past, while others side with Bethesda, whose first-ever E3 press conference went without a hitch, featuring devs who clearly loved what they were doing. Even I used to get in on this discussion. The consummate Nintendo fanboy I was, I always sided with the Big N, as quite often, they were the only company I owned a system for and announced most of the things I was interested in. As I grew away from fanboyism and gained interest in other consoles, the field broadened and I began to consider other champions of E3. However, a few years ago, I came to a realization:

There is no winner at E3.

At least, none of the presenters are winners, and they may never be winners. The purpose of the press conferences is to announce and pump up games that are several months to several years away from releasing. The companies presenting can only “win” at E3 if it garners enough interest and eventual sales in their product. Sometimes this pays off, but sometimes it absolutely does not. Some of the time, these games that get all sorts of hype trains devoted to them end up being garbage. Just look at Assassin’s Creed: Unity, The Master Chief Collection, and The Order: 1886. All three had a massive amount of coverage and hype building them up, and various segments of the gaming world were very excited to play these titles. But all three of them got an overwhelmingly lukewarm reaction, at best, upon their release. The Order, especially, got raked over the coals by reviewers.

The Order 1886

“Look, over there! It’s our potential, flying away! All that’s left is a pretty hallway simulator with some shooting here and there.”

Saying anyone “won” or “lost” E3 and arguing with others about that result is rather useless, then, as some of the games that got announced and shown off could well turn out to be duds. That’s not to say we should not get excited for them, though, because it is only natural for us to do so. We love seeing things that are not out yet. We love seeing and wanting things we do not have. We hate waiting for them, and that’s precisely what the companies want us to feel. And there is nothing wrong with that — we’re consumers of their products, whether good or bad. With that in mind, my full realization back then was this:

The only winners at E3 are us.

It is essentially Christmas every June, where the present could be described as a box of chocolates, a la Forrest Gump. Nobody really knows what they’re gonna get; E3s are full of joy, and weird, wonderful moments. Who can forget awkward attempted comedy from Mr. Caffeine or Aisha Tyler, Miyamoto and company flailing their arms wildly around while pretending to play music, or lucha libres smacking each other around on stage? On the flipside, who can forget Miyamoto coming through the smoke on stage with a Master Sword and Hylian Shield after one of the greatest Zelda trailers premiered, or the unveiling of Final Fantasy XV, or Sony taking on Microsoft about used games? It’s a magical time of the year where people of all ages come together and share their love for video games.

Miyamoto at E3 2004 With Master Sword and Shield

Honestly, who can forget this moment?

We are all winners at E3, from those who favor niche games and Japanese game design from Nintendo, Square Enix proper, and the like, to those who enjoy their Xbox One as their Madden Machine. There is something for everyone every year, so much so that there should be nothing to complain about, even when some conferences don’t go as well as planned. However, E3 can be a little less exciting with those whose favorite conference or conference they looked forward to most was unimpressive for them. It could be compared to getting fruit in a stocking while an older sibling gets a model rocket. That’s understandably frustrating!

How does all of this relate to this past E3, though? Well, for starters, I do not believe it is too big of an exaggeration to say that this was one of the greatest E3s in the history of the convention. There were sequels, resurrected titles, and new IPs alike. Fallout 4, Shenmue III, and Horizon: Zero Dawn all impressed in their showings, and that’s hardly scratching the surface. Star Fox Zero, The Last Guardian, and the Final Fantasy VII remake alike impressed in their demonstrations and trailers. Even things like Xbox One’s backwards compatibility drew my interest. Maybe someday it will be worth picking up after all, I thought. There were so many offerings that even one dud of a conference should not be near enough to complain about.

Final Fantasy VII

I look forward to this immensely.

As most people would guess, I am referring to Nintendo’s Digital Event this year. While it started out relatively strong, with bizarre Muppet figures of Miyamoto, Iwata, and Reggie turning into Fox, Peppy, and Falco and the trailer for Star Fox Zero, it quickly began to lose steam. A lot of time was allocated to neat little featurettes where some developer would talk about their ideas for the game. There were several of these throughout the 45 minute stream, and each one took up chunks of time that might have been better spent focusing on the games—not that they were uninteresting, but they felt a little too much like padding. Additionally, very few Wii U titles were shown during the Digital Event, and for a console that has never performed particularly well, it was a bit disheartening. Sure, Nintendo showed off new trailers for Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem (or whatever they call it now…it still lacks a true English name) and Xenoblade Chronicles X, two titles I for one am greatly looking forward to. But spending more time on Yoshi’s Woolly World, a game that was only a week away from releasing in Europe and has already received plenty of coverage through Nintendo Directs throughout the last year, probably was not the best idea.

The 3DS had more to offer, as Nintendo unveiled surprise after surprise for the system. Not only did they show off a new, previously unannounced Zelda game, Tri Force Heroes, that is releasing this year, but they also revealed Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, a crossover with the universe of Paper Mario. Both games look like a great deal of fun, and I look forward to playing both of them. Additionally, a new trailer for Fire Emblem Fates released. The one title I have avoided talking about so far, though, is the main culprit for everyone’s bad feelings about the conference. Metroid Prime: Federation Force is a spinoff title taking place in the Metroid Prime universe, and many people were incensed by this reveal. I understood the disappointment…actually, I felt it alongside them. I want a new Metroid game as much as the next person. However, forming a petition to cancel the game is the most preposterous thing I have heard all year. As a spinoff title and a game that has not been released yet, it has done nothing to tarnish the Metroid Prime name or deserve the reaction it has gotten. To those that hate the way it looks and plays, simply do not buy it; both sales (and the healthy dislike bar on the trailer) will send Nintendo the message. And, to those fans that say “this isn’t what we were talking about when we said we wanted a new Metroid Prime,” I would like to remind them that a few years back, plenty of people said very similar things about the original Metroid Prime when it first came out, that it looked like crap since it ditched the classic 2D formula for a first-person adventure.

Nintendo’s conference was underwhelming, no doubt about it, but there were still plenty of games to be had, and plenty to look forward to throughout the entirety of E3. I’m not saying that nobody should be disappointed in what companies had to offer, but I’m encouraging everyone to be a bit more mindful about it. Going back to the fruit and model rocket scenario: while it is understandably frustrating to only get fruit while a sibling gets a cool toy for Christmas, the boy with the fruit has a lot to be grateful for still. I can guarantee that the boy with the fruit still has a lot of other great things that he has that he can enjoy, and I bet he can make the most out of those fruits, even if they aren’t as interesting as a model rocket. Remember: it was only one lackluster conference, and there are so many amazing games coming out from the other ones that it shouldn’t matter. Additionally, Nintendo still unveiled a new Mario role-playing game, a new Zelda game, and showed off new footage for two JRPGs coming exclusively to the Wii U. It might not have been a great showing for Metroid or the Wii U, but how can we possibly complain when there’s so much we have now and so much for the future that all the companies showed off at E3? I certainly can’t and I refuse to.

The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes

This is the first year I can think of where a new Zelda game couldn’t even salvage the public perception of the press conference.

And so, like so many years before, we won E3 in spectacular fashion. I am very happy with this E3 as I found something to enjoy in every press conference I watched. In addition to all of the games I mentioned above, there was a great Kingdom Hearts III trailer, a gameplay trailer for the new Star Ocean game, Recore, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Super Mario Maker, and loads of other games. I couldn’t possibly complain about it… it hit all the right notes! It might not have been the best showing for every company, but as a whole, I have a lot to look forward to, as do all of us. We don’t have to be happy with everything, but we should at least be satisfied. After all, what we might have missed this year may show up in the future, and I for one look forward to it.

About Alexander Jones

Alexander Jones is a 24 year-old with a BA in History and has been gaming as far back as he can remember. Growing up, he was raised strictly on Nintendo consoles, but this fueled a passion for Japanese gaming and design. Though he does still have a soft spot for Nintendo, he has grown to love any developer and console with fun, enjoyable games. Some of his favorite games of all time include Ocarina of Time, Final Fantasy XIII, Chrono Trigger, and Katawa Shoujo.