In the Limelight

The press conference schedule for E3 2018 is officially over, and they definitely gave gamers reason to be hype for the coming years in the video game industry. But how did everyone stack up? It’s time for our E3 Report Card!

Electronic Arts
EA seemed very much like they were simply staying the course this year – there wasn’t anything introduced that really rocked the boat too hard. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but everything felt very expected. The only announcement really of note was that Jedi: Fallen Order is being worked on, but given how that’s at least 18 months off, there’s not much to be excited about yet. Anthem seems very polarizing especially for fans of BioWare’s other work – it’s very much a departure from their previous games, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

It also seemed like EA was trying to win people back after the past year’s worth of missteps with regards to premium services in online games, lootboxes, and so on. So the fact that they harped on how their future online shooters like Battlefield V will not have those is certainly a good thing, but it gave this year’s presentation a certain vibe about it.

Overall, EA did exactly what we expected them to do, and nothing more. They’re clearly trying to win back trust from the gaming community here, but I’m not sure if this lukewarm presentation was enough to do that.
Grade: C

I’m not really sure quite what to think about the Microsoft presser this year. On one hand, they managed to highlight a whole heck of a lot of really cool games that I’m really, genuinely excited about. They got dibs on showing off a new trailer for Kingdom Hearts, they got to debut the world premiere of Devil May Cry V, they got to show off Cyberpunk 2079, they got to show off Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice… the problem though, for Microsoft, is that all of those games are also available on PlayStation 4.

In terms of console exclusives, they likely appeased their core audience with the likes of a new Halo and a whole lot of new Gears of War content. But they didn’t really do anything beyond that. There wasn’t a new IP from a different genre for Microsoft to try and rope in a new audience before this console generation is totally lost.

Microsoft had a good show. But they weren’t able to convince me, someone who does not own an Xbox One, that it’s remotely worthwhile to get an Xbox One console. So on that front, they failed. Fun show overall, though.
Grade: C

Bethesda often seems like the Fort Knox of video game secrets – it’s tough trying to get anyone at that company to spill the beans on any given project. But at least that meant that their presser contained a lot of surprises and announcements from the breadth of development studios they publish for. Getting new expansions and games for Wolfenstein, DOOM, and Prey was certainly welcome, but I think most people were watching this for the focus on Fallout 76, which looks super exciting and I can’t wait to get my hands on a multiplayer Fallout experience.

Oh, and they announced Starfield, a new IP, and Elder Scrolls VI. So that was extremely neat.

If there’s something to knock Bethesda for here, it’s the fact that they spent so much time talking about their card games and mobile titles, and it really killed the overall vibe of the performance. Those things are neat, and I’m sure there’s an audience for them, but the amount of time spent on them really sucked the energy out of the show.
Grade: A-

Square Enix
I truthfully wondered why Square Enix even bothered this year. Basically every trailer they showed was something that was shown off at another press conference before (Microsoft) or featured in a more significant way at a press conference after (Sony and Nintendo). It was baffling to try and understand why they even made the effort to present this year, because it simply boiled down to a half-hour worth of trailers and of those trailers, I’d estimate that less than 10% contained wholly new or exclusive content to this specific presentation.

For third-party publishers, E3 should be the time where they’re able to show off why their games are the ones to buy regardless of system. Square Enix somehow managed to just waste everyone’s time with their dedicated timeslot and should have just stuck to presenting as part of larger events.
Grade: D

I’ve always felt that Ubisoft catches a lot of slack for their cheesy stage shows, and while a lot of that has been deserved, I actually enjoyed this year’s show. They managed to blend enough actual stage antics (personally I was a big fan of the panda bear drum major they had out there for Just Dance) with solid game content, and it made for a surprisingly excellent show.

Ubisoft has a really interesting range of games going for them these days. They’ve got the more hardcore, adult gaming crowd hooked with Assassin’s Creed, and they still manage to catch the interest of younger kids with the Rabbids lineup of games. I also loved how they’re continuing to collaborate with Bethesda on crossover games and exclusive content for the Switch, and Miyamoto just looked genuinely happy to be there to talk about Starfox.

My only concern with Ubisoft is that they tend to get into routines with their franchises that end up making everything they do really predictable, and this conference didn’t do much to dispel that at all. I hope that everything they’re working on still feels fresh and fun rather than the cookie-cutter franchises they tend to fall into.
Grade: B+

Sony, for the last several years, has been the marquee event for E3. This year? Not so much. They showed off a whole lot of really cool games, for sure, but the presentation itself was pretty lacking. After they highlighted The Last of Us Part II they did a weird and honestly awkward cut to a desk interview with some folks from Sony and it felt extremely off. Sony has usually had people on stage during their show to discuss upcoming titles in development and this year they instead just cut to this desk for a while, only to cut back to trailers… and then it was just trailers for another hour. It felt mailed in.

That all being said, the company clearly has a lot going for it, and it’s really never been much of a surprise that they’ve been dominating this current console generation. I’m excited for a lot of what they’ve got coming out soon, but that excitement wasn’t generated by this lackluster presentation.
Grade: B-

Well, we knew ahead of time that they were going to talk about Super Smash Bros., and they sure kept to that promise by focusing the bulk of their show on that game this year. Given that it’s set to be their big holiday sales push, that isn’t really surprising, but it would’ve been nice to see a more balanced presentation. I’m pretty excited about Smash though (especially since they put my girl Daisy in as a playable character, finally) and I’m looking forward to being able to play it.

It just felt like there were some missed opportunities here, especially with regards to games that we already know are being worked on – namely, Yoshi and Metroid Prime 4, both of which were conspicuously absent from this show. I get wanting to push your big game for the year but these two have both been teased for a while and I’m just a little surprised they weren’t discussed at all.

At the very least, Nintendo made me glad I already have a Switch in my possession.
Grade: B+

-Carrie Wood