This Dumb Industry: What is E3 For?

By Shamus
on Jun 28, 2016
Filed under:
Column

Usually these columns are a space where I want to make a point. I’ve typically got an axe to grind, so I build up supporting arguments and then tie them all together at the end with some sort of conclusion. But this column is more a series of observations and open-ended questions.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo happened a couple of weeks ago. Like last year, the various companies allowed Twitch to stream their press conferences, and Twitch in turn allowed the unwashed masses (that’s us) to re-broadcast the stream with our own commentary. Josh, Jarenth, Campster, and I watched the streams and gave our own live reactions to the show. The embedded videos below are the archived versions of each press conference, which have been uploaded to YouTube to give everyone the illusion of permanence. It all adds up to nine glorious hours of entertainmentAssuming you’re entertained by people interrupting each other over Old News..

So while you drink in the white-knuckle excitement of watching us watch an audience watch trailers, let me ask a stupid question:

What is E3 for?

Obvious, right? E3 is where companies go to market their products. DUH, Shamus!

Except, market to whom? And does it actually work?

Think about what a strange gathering E3 is. Normally media announcements are spread out. When you tease your upcoming game or drop your first trailer, you want it to be the big news of the day. A marketing win is when all of the news sites talk about it and you monopolize the news for a couple of days. In what other context is having your trailer buried in a pile of two dozen other trailers a good thing? If you announce your upcoming game on the same day that a new console is announced, AND someone shows off a new peripheral, AND six other games are teased, AND some new IP is showed off… isn’t that normally considered a marketing disaster? Isn’t it usually BAD when your New Thing is lost in the crowd?

But the publishers do it, year after year. Not only that, they spend lots of moneyFor certain values of “lots”. After all, one company’s fortune is another company’s rounding error. to make sure their particular trumpet blast ends up as part of the echoing, industry-wide cacophony.

The predictable defense is, “Well, it must make them money, otherwise they wouldn’t do it.”

This assumes that all of the leaders involved are rational actors working from correct, up-to-date information, which is not at all a guarantee. You can try this out on bad ideas of the past: Leeching must work, otherwise physicians wouldn’t do it!

I’m not suggesting that going to E3 is as bad as leeching. I don’t honestly know if it does any good or not. It’s possible that E3 is a rousing success and a smart investment of time and money for the corporations involved, and that they derive financial benefit that’s just hard to see from my seat in the peanut galley. But it’s also possible that E3 is just the biggest circus in videogaming, a leftover from world before YouTube and social media, a world where companies needed to go through the gaming press to reach the gaming public.

What I find interesting is how hard it is to judge. After all this sound and fury, I can’t see any benefit.

As a consumer, I don’t find E3 trailers and demos to be appreciably more effective than regular, “upload to YouTube and do a press release” style marketing. Sure, I watched the trailers and talked about them with my friends, but wouldn’t I have done so anyway if these same trailers were released over the period of (say) a couple of months?

As someone who writes about games, I don’t see a huge benefit. In fact, it’s actually really annoying. My goal is to have something interesting and relevant to talk about all of the 52 weeks of the year, but E3 creates this inconvenient situation where we have thirty things to talk about one week, but a bunch of silence for a couple of months on either side of that week. There were things at E3 that we didn’t talk about. These were things we could have talked about if they were inserted into the regular news cycle and given room to breathe, and not lost in a sea of bigger, flashier things.

E3 seems to create this dangerous “winner take all” effect. We get twenty new trailers. The public will latch onto the two or three really interesting ones, and the rest will get shoved to the side. This year Death Stranding ran away with the conversation by virtue of being REALLY WEIRD.

The other strange thing about E3 is that – like a lot of games marketing – it suffers from the Gatekeeper Effect. A company wants to reach the masses. To do this, they want the press to write about the game. But what interests members of the press is often different from what interests the buying public.

Someone who plays one new AAA game every other month is going to have very different tastes and needs than someone who is drowning in a backlog of titles, and who plays two games a week. A reviewer who gets their games for free is probably looking for something arty, novel, and have all of its best ideas packed into as short a time as possible. You’re looking for something to write about. You’re looking for something to comment on or talk about, and “Yup, it’s another one of those things” isn’t a very strong basis for an articleUnless it’s a hand-wring-y thinkpiece about “Do we have Too Much Of This Thing These Days?”. An Ubisoft collect-a-thon is pretty much the antithesis of what you’re looking for.

But if you’re not a writer, and have to buy your games with a limited budget of gaming dollars, then maybe you want something safe, reliable, familiar, and prolonged. In which case the Ubisoft collect-o-rama might look pretty good.

So a company needs to market to Joe Public, but to do so they need to present information that will prompt Jane Journalist to care enough to write about it. This is made difficult by the fact that Joe and Jane often want different things. I imagine this creates the temptation to engage in a kind of two-faced approach to marketing: Promise those snooty self-important critics your game will talk about “issues” and be about “ideas”, while promising the Mountain Dew slurping masses that your game will let them Blow Shit Up Real Good. As someone who is both a snooty critic and one of the masses, this always puts me off. I think the marketing for WATCH_DOGS is the clearest example of this. A game that pretends to be about issues it never really wants to bring up, while at the same time offering a patronizingly shallow power trip. Then again, maybe it’s unfair to blame this on marketing. This confused approach seems to be baked into the design of the game itself.

Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe it all makes sense and I just can’t see it. But I can never shake the feeling that we’re watching a very strange circus, and that by watching, I’ve inadvertantly become one of the clowns.

Post Event Meta-Meta Commentary

The EA conference was mostly about their sports games. I was hoping for some clear signals on Mass Effect. I wanted some indication of whether I should be indignant or hopeful. But the trailer was so vague that things could go either way.


Link (YouTube)

There were about five years between Oblivion (2006) and Skyrim (2011) so it would be reasonable to think that we’re about due for some new Elder Scrolls. But aside from the announcement of a next-gen remaster of Skyrim, the Bethesda show was bereft of Elder Scrolls news. Todd Howard even said that Elder Scrolls 6 was “[…] a very long way off.” That’s not terribly encouraging. All they had to show on the sandbox RPG front was their Fallout 4 novelty DLC. Dishonored looked pretty promising, and Prey… I’m actually really interested to hear what people think of the Prey trailer.


Link (YouTube)

Microsoft spent some time talking about their hardware plans. I found their “One Digital Store to Rule them All” to be both sensible yet terrifying. It’s a good policy, but like I keep saying: These poeple gave us Games for Windows LIVE, and I’ve never seen any indication that they have learned any lessons from that.


Link (YouTube)

PC Gaming and Ubisoft are a funny pairing. Like last year, the PC Gaming show featured stuff of limited interest, ran long, and was basically saved by Day 9‘s ability to smooth over everyone else’s awkwardness. Their show was interruptedOn the Twitch stream. I mean, the PC show continued on unimpeeded, but if you were watching via the official Twitch stream the PC Gaming show was cuy off. by Ubisoft. This was the Ubisoft press conference:

How do you do, fellow kids?

How do you do, fellow kids?

Yes, I know that’s an old meme. But look, this is why we have memes. They contain the ability to sum up complex ideas in a single image. And this exactly how the show felt.


Link (YouTube)

Finally, Sony showed off a bunch of stuff that nobody remembers because Death Stranding captured our curiosity. Getting back to the point I made above: This was something to write about. We have no idea what this game is about, what the gameplay will be like, or when it will come out, but the trailer is a conversation starter.


Link (YouTube)
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Footnotes:

[1] Assuming you’re entertained by people interrupting each other over Old News.

[2] For certain values of “lots”. After all, one company’s fortune is another company’s rounding error.

[3] Unless it’s a hand-wring-y thinkpiece about “Do we have Too Much Of This Thing These Days?”

[4] On the Twitch stream. I mean, the PC show continued on unimpeeded, but if you were watching via the official Twitch stream the PC Gaming show was cuy off.


2020202013There are now 93 comments. Almost a hundred!

From the Archives:

  1. Ninety-Three says:

    I was hoping for some clear signals on Mass Effect. I wanted some indication of whether I should be indignant or hopeful. But the trailer was so vague that things could go either way.

    I for one took the lack of news as bad news. Having nothing but a pre-rendered trailer with only nine months until launch seems like a sign of troubled development.

    I’m actually really interested to hear what people think of the Prey trailer.

    I was intrigued by the new IP (how sad is it that that’s intriguing?) and the bright and colourful world. Then dubstep started playing, all the colour drained out of the world and we started seeing how our badass space man is going to fight monsters and I completely stopped caring. They took something interesting and pretty and maybe time travely?, and made it about killing monsters with your shotgun on an underlit, blue and black space station. Apparently the Spoiler Warning crew wasn’t as repulsed by this as I was, but it’s an interesting failure of what is clearly an attempt to cater to both Joe and Jane.

    Death Stranding captured our curiosity.

    Quick opinion poll: Who else isn’t a Kojima fan, and what did you think of the trailer? Because I’m not familiar with Kojima, and the reaction to the trailer has been baffling me. Yeah, it was weird, it also gave us nothing to go on. I can’t care about that trailer because there’s nothing to bite down on. Like the Mass Effect trailer, it told us nothing, it just told us nothing weirdly. I’m not even curious, my reaction is just “Come back when you have something to show me”.

    But Kojima is beloved for his weird nonsense, so the trailer could have just been one slide declaring: “A Game – By Hideo Kojima: It’s Super Weird” and I feel like the target audience (fans of Kojima) would have gotten excited.

    • Incunabulum says:

      Not a fan – never played one of his games.

      Seeing Norman Reedus pick up a baby attached to him by an umbilical cord, cradle it to him and start crying – I can see why everyone says MGS is batshit insane and I can see why everyone is worried now that whatever nominal control over the man has been removed.

      You *will* be jacking sharks off in that game.

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      I don’t care about Kojima and his BS, and haven’t even been curious enough about Naked Norman Reedus Baby Game to watch the trailer. Honestly, doing that so I can be confused by his confusing nonsense would just be playing into his hands. Wake me up when there’s an actual interesting idea you can pin to it.

    • Jeremiah says:

      Never been a Kojima fan.

      But even aside from that I hate game trailers like that. It tells me nothing about the game. Nothing about the gameplay, the world, or anything else. I could make a lot of crazy guesses based on the nonsense it showed me, but that’s pretty worthless.

      Nothing about that trailer makes me the least bit interested to know more about that game. They may as well just flashed up an all black screen that says “Norman Reedus & Hideo Kojima”.

      Why is it so hard to make a trailer that actually conveys useful information about the game? Those trailers exist, they’re just very few and far between. /rantover.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Who else isn’t a Kojima fan, and what did you think of the trailer?

      Over here,not a fan.Completely uninterested in all of the solid metal snakes.My thought about this trailer:
      Meh.

    • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

      Obviously its a remake of Paperboy.

      Its been 30 years, Paperboy is all grown up. Now you must come out of retirement and throw babies at floating businessmen to stop Aquaman from evicting marine life from the ocean. His hands are covered in ink from all the newsbabies he’s thrown. Its cliche.

    • Supah Ewok says:

      Regarding Kojima: His new studio only formed in December, mate. I doubt they even have a prototype of the game ready yet.

      That trailer, I imagine, was just to fuel hype for Sony in general. Show the shareholders that the big bucks they’ve funneled into a new studio are justified. Show that this big name they’ve got is working on stuff, and that that stuff is bringing in hype, and the hype will spillover to the rest of what Sony showed.

      Edit: the more I think about it, the more that that trailer looked to be a rendering of a game pitch.

    • Dreadjaws says:

      Well, I am a Kojima fan and I’m absolutely baffled by this trailer. It’s nothing. I can’t be excited, angry or interested because I have no idea of what’s going on.

      In any case, I like Kojima’s games for their gameplay, not the story, so this trailer does nothing for me.

    • Alex says:

      I’m not a Kojima fan, and basically the only thing that trailer told me is that I won’t like the game. When you make a trailer this is you, putting what you think is your best foot forward. And that was naked Norman Reedus.

    • Bubble181 says:

      Not a fan, nor do I care about this trailer at all.

    • lurkey says:

      Only know Kojima as “That dude who makes those console games with more cutscenes than gameplay”. Found the trailer banal. Baby, umbilical cords, floating dudes, weepy Daryl. China Mieville this ain’t, nor Satoshi Kon.

    • tmtvl says:

      I’m still in a dream, Snake Eater. (Snake Eater)

    • Joe says:

      I thought that it’s a weird trailer, but it doesn’t tell me anything about the premise or mechanics of the game. There were a hundred other games being hyped that told me the premise, mechanics, or both. That’s what makes me interested, not just a bit of vague weirdness.

  2. Ninety-Three says:

    As for “What’s the benefit of E3”, it does produce an uptick in general media coverage, and it causes people to seek out the trailers. It’s like the Super Bowl: No one will randomly pull up the latest Geico ad so they can watch it on Youtube, but people go out of their way to watch ads that air during the Super Bowl because it’s an Event, and the ads are presumed to be interestingly high-quality.

    Now E3 probably causes more problems than it solves by splitting the attention in fifty different directions, but it does increase the total attention for the month. And hey, someone has to be Death Stranding and “win E3”, maybe it’ll be our game! We’re gonna be rich!

    • MrGuy says:

      My counterexample to this is the Dead Island announcement trailer.

      This would have been the PERFECT E3 trailer. It was gripping in its telling of a heartbreaking story without needing words. It suggested a gameworld that would be interesting. It generated absolutely massive buzz and interest in the game by gamers and game press alike. Sure, the actual game was kinda crap, but we didn’t know that at the time. The trailer was beautiful and captivating.

      And they DIDN’T release it at E3. They just put it out on their website, sent it to some people, and let word of mouth do the rest.

      Might they have been better off if they’d released it at E3 and had it be the “darling” of the show? Maybe. But it’s hard to imagine them doing better than having all that “you gotta check this out!” buzz to themselves.

      • Ninety-Three says:

        True, but the Dead Island trailer might be the best game trailer ever released, you can do anything you want when you’re that good. Let’s take, say, the Dishonored trailer, as an example of a trailer that seems fine but not fantastic: What do you think happens if that releases on their website? Heck, I don’t think Death Stranding would be as big a deal if it hadn’t launched at E3: sort of like Ubisoft’s wacky song and dance number “This insanity is present at E3” made that trailer seem even more insane, and pure insanity is that trailer’s only marketable feature.

      • Bloodsquirrel says:

        The problem is that one cherry-picked example doesn’t mean much when dealing with a system that is pathologically inclined to be fickle and run off of positive feedback loops. Some stuff really takes off. Some stuff doesn’t. The reasons why may be entirely unpredictable and beyond your control.

        You can’t run your business successfully relying on one-in-a-million success stories as the basis for all of your decision making.

    • Abnaxis says:

      I almost kind of wonder if the decision to go to E3 isn’t as much about denying an open mike to your competition as much as it is about getting up on the pedestal yourself. Like, if you’re a big AAA decision maker on these things, then by showing up you roll the dice hoping not only to create a positive-buzz feedback loop, but also because if you didn’t it would be easier for your competition to create a positive-buzz feedback loop by your absence.

  3. Starker says:

    E3 is an event. Which means lots of people paying attention and lots of eyes on products. People will feel an obligation to follow it or at least watch/read up on it later. A trailer outside of E3 might get seen by a lot of people. A trailer at E3 will be seen by a lot of people.

    • Eric says:

      Pretty much this.

      Another few things: it’s an industry event, but the focus has shifted less towards marketing to consumers and more toward showing off to other companies as well as (importantly) to publishers, distributors and retailers.

      E3 is still one of the best times for deals to be made on the business end. Making a good impression with your new game can often help forge relationships for the future. It also means individual devs can hang out with other people and make professional connections.

      The “lots of eyes on your game” angle is still important to be sure, since press are still paying attention to E3, but it’s comparatively less important. Depending on the game, right now PAX and Gamescom are bigger (and more cost effective) events to attend.

      • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

        I thought it started industry and shifted to consumer rather than the reverse.

      • Decus says:

        I was going to bring this up. The big thing here is that it’s also globally recognized and even studios owned by the same company on other sides of the world have this, potentially, as their one chance to be in the same room as each other.

        FFXV is a decent example of this since Avalanche Studios (Just Cause) also develops for Square Enix but until E3 Tabata hadn’t thought to ask them for help with things like flying or destructible environments. That sort of thing becomes a lot easier when everybody is suddenly on the same continent and there are tons of translators around everybody at all times, ready to be of service.

      • LCF says:

        Yes, the Business-to-Business communication is a factor in the E3 phenomenon. What you show, you also show to shareholders, investors and money lenders. If you have the means to show off and make a lot of noise, you are telling them “Everything’s fine! We gon be filthy rich!”

  4. Demo says:

    To reinforce the above two comments, I think a lot of your confusion comes from trying to divide people into two groups:
    1) People who actively follow gaming news.
    2) People with no interest in gaming news.

    I myself would consider myself somewhere between the two; I’m invested enough to want to know what’s going on in gaming, but my regular gaming news consists of the Diecast and Checkpoint (Loading Ready Run’s 5 minute/week gaming news show).

    Nevertheless, I watched most of the E3 press conferences, except the ones that were at 5 am my time. I’d think this puts me squarely in the actual target demographic for E3; people who generally wouldn’t watch a given trailer unless it made a particularly large splash but still want to tune in for the event that is E3.

    • psivamp says:

      Oh my gosh, Checkpoint still runs — I thought it died when PATV stopped running it.

      Feed Dump still exists too.

      Thank you for mentioning this.

      [angry noises] Stupid Escapist dumping everything.

      • IFS says:

        If you’re a fan of Feeddump and Checkpoint you should check out LRR’s new show Loading Ready Live. It’s sort of a variety show of sorts and still fairly new but quite entertaining. You can find it on their youtube channel.

        They have another youtube channel titled LoadingReadyLive but ironically they don’t put their new show there, that channel is dedicated to stream recordings since they have a bunch of weekly streams on twitch.

    • I too consider myself to be somewhere in the middle, in a normal day i will probably check The escapist, Techraptor and Nichgamer + 2-3 youtube channels about gaming and 2-3 weekly podcasts, but unlike you i completely ignore more or less everything E3.

      I already know that i will hear about the “important” points from the 2-3 gaming related podcasts i listen to every week and the most exciting stuff will be mentioned on multiple youtube channels i follow.

      Anything i would consider worth knowing will show up in my regular consumption of gaming news anyways, probably multiple times at that.

  5. Lee says:

    I think Demo’s got part of it, but there’s another big part. You (Shamus) talk about yourself, and “the gaming press,” and how E3 is useless to you. And you have a point, the gaming press follows this stuff, and E3 is just a blip on the year long radar. But people like Demo are out there, and they pay attention to E3. I wouldn’t expect there to be a ton of people like Demo out there though.

    The real issue is the non-gaming press. A game trailer won’t make the general press even on a slow newsday, but it will during E3. And the non-gaming press reaches everybody. People who don’t pay attention to gaming, don’t care about E3 really either, but they’re watching the news they always watch. Those people see the E3 coverage, and might get a taste of something they like and go buy it. It’s a small chance, but there is such a vast number of those non-gaming viewers that it pays off.

    Which, incidentally, is also why you see the huge expenditures. The non-gaming press is going to be attracted by the big, glittery presentations, and more air time means more eyeballs to sell to. E3 might have been an industry party at one time, but the first time a non-gaming reporter put out a story on it, it mutated into mass advertising.

  6. ehlijen says:

    I think part of why E3 still persists is that no one wants to be the first one to quit, to be the first one not talked about after a big event.

  7. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I think there are five answers to your question:

    1) E3 is intended to catch the attention of people who aren’t paying much attention to the gaming press. I’ve largely abandoned gaming news sites, but E3 is big enough to make me at least look up what was shown there to see if there were any interesting announcements. I’d suggest that it’s a lot like having a Steam sale: you could make arguments for why it’s more logical to spread out your sales so that your customers aren’t trying to scrape together the money to buy everything at once, but in practicality having a big event sale creates a vortex of attention that does a better job of drawing people in and getting them into he spirit to spend a lot of money.

    2) In fact, I’d suggest that the entire event creates at atmosphere of hype that an isolated trailer release couldn’t. On one hand, that means that you’ve got a lot to live up to, but on the other hand if you do have something big to announce nothing will fertilize the fields for you like the big event where big stuff happens AREN’T YOU EXCITED!!11!? After all, while releasing something on a slow news day seems like a good idea, the media is often fickle and wrapped up in its own bullshit. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get attention just because no other games are being announced. But E3 is big enough that, if you’re a part of it, you’ll probably be written about.

    3) E3 is intended to catch the attention of big media outlets. Not the gaming press, but the real live news sites that will run an article on whatever the big thing currently is. Sure, sometimes they don’t need E3 in order to do that, but for outlets whose bread and butter is not primarily gaming it helps.

    4) Having a convention where people are physically there probably does something to spread conversation that a press release won’t.

    5) E3 is a good time for the companies to try to sell themselves as a package. It’s a time when they can put together all of their offerings in one show and try to sell their brand as a whole, rather than piecemeal. This is probably more relevant for Microsoft and Sony than EA or Ubisoft, but any company that is looking to cross-promote can get people to pay attention to stuff they might otherwise ignore because it’s part of their E3 conference.

  8. Ninety-Three says:

    One interesting trend I noticed at E3 was tendency for companies to talk up their past releases. Yeah yeah, last year you released Shootmans: Armageddon, fifty-seven million people played it, and IGN.com was blown away, congratulations. But isn’t E3 supposed to be about upcoming games?

    If it was a one-off, I could dismiss it, but it seemed to happen a lot, and I have to wonder why. Are they trying to generate more sales for last year’s game? Are they pre-building hype for Shootmans: Apocalypse, to debut at next year’s E3? Or did they just not have enough content for their allotted hour and this is how they manufacture filler?

    • guy says:

      I feel like this was maybe a bit of a downcycle year; lots of big releases last year left relatively few major upcoming titles ready for an extended demo, so they spent a while talking about old games (sometimes with new DLC releases) to fill time and make the company look good.

  9. Infinitron says:

    Prey will have characters written by Chris Avellone. Shamus beware.

  10. Joe Informatico says:

    Isn’t the point of E3 primarily to convince the various companies’ shareholders that “we’re still an awesome media company totally plugged into what customers want these days–listen to these cheering crowds! You should totally not sell off your stock, you should buy more”? Or am I confusing it with another conference?

  11. Zak McKracken says:

    I think E3 is about reaching people who wouldn’t usually read regular press releases. It’s large enough to make it into non-gaming specific news, thus reach more people. This way it helps not just each participant but the industry as a whole to become more visible.

    For the individual participants, it affirms their status as major players in the gaming scene.
    Like, parents who don’t play may know nothing about what games are on at the moment but if you see a one-minute segment somewhere they’d remember that EA is a company and they make some game with football and so maybe they’ll get that for their kid some time.

    Third, it may also have to do with investors and such. Again, the major investors are probably well-informed anyway but the smaller ones get all the major goings-on in one spot — in exactly the form in which the companies want to be seen. (not necessarily the best thing for those investors but definitely in the interest of the companies presenting themselves).

  12. Zak McKracken says:

    Day[9] in a suit, shouting things like “let’s celebrate PC gaming!” looks really out of character to me.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh, Jarenth, Campster, and I

    I didnt get a link.Does he not have a website?

  14. CruelCol says:

    >Sure, I watched the trailers and talked about them with my friends, but wouldn’t I have done so anyway if these same trailers were released over the period of (say) a couple of months?

    Well let’s use this very blog as an example. I honestly can’t remember the last time you posted just a trailer with your opinion. A quick search suggest it was Supergirl in May 2015 or if you count Diecasts, November 2015. (Though it is hard to search for that so that might be off). Compare that to 7 (ish?) posts about E3. Would you have posted the Prey trailer and asked people for their opinion if it was simply released a month ago?

  15. Hal says:

    Re: Skyrim Remastered

    Why are they making this? I realize that, 5 years later, Skyrim won’t look nearly as pretty as the newest games, it still looks pretty good. (Certain criticisms about lighting and palette choices not withstanding.) It just doesn’t seem like something people were clamoring for.

    Is it because Elder Scrolls 6 is too far out, and they feel the need to release something? It seems like a graphical face lift would be resource intensive if their goal is to get ES6 out the door.

    Is it because they don’t want to steal any thunder from Elder Scrolls Online? I’m tempted by this explanation, but I don’t know enough about the game, beyond its mere existence, to do more than speculate.

    I don’t know. The entire project feels very strange.

    • Ninety-Three says:

      Is it because they don’t want to steal any thunder from Elder Scrolls Online?

      Hah!

      Trust me, the game that went F2P in under a year has no thunder to steal.

    • guy says:

      Is old Skyrim avaliable on the latest generation of consoles? Even if it is, they’re likely to get a burst of sales from refitting it to use the graphical power of the new ones.

      As for Elder Scrolls 6, I’m pretty sure that it’s got a lot of team crossover with Fallout 4 and its DLC and they’re probably only just starting it up. So it’s only been about eight months since the last Bethesda open world RPG release, which still has upcoming DLC, and that’s a pretty short timeframe for a major announcement.

      • Supah Ewok says:

        It is not.

        Skyrim is Bethesda’s biggest hit, even after 5 years. Of their modern offerings, it’s probably the most balanced in terms of mechanics and people’s acceptance of them. Has their biggest modding community. Frankly, Bethesda doesn’t need to ever release TES6. Just updating Skyrim for each console generation will bring in enough money to keep them open; somehow, people manage to pour hundreds of hours into that thing and still aren’t tired of it.

    • Yurika Grant says:

      One reason: mods on console. Nothing more than that. They simply want to open up another market to possible paid mods they can cash in on. Fallout 4 was merely the precursor. And we’ve seen how much of a clustersuck that’s been. Bethesda are singlehandedly destroying a LOT of modder good will right now, given their lack of interest in policing stolen mod content.

    • Primogenitor says:

      I think its to do with mods. Fallout 4 has cross-platform mods, so the infrastructure is there. Easy to drop a new Skyrim for the latest consoles that re-uses that work, nicely timed to be after Fallout 4 DLC is done and ready for the Christmas rush. And yes, Bethesday feel they need Elder Scrolls on the latest consoles.

    • Philadelphus says:

      It seems like a graphical face lift would be resource intensive if their goal is to get ES6 out the door.

      I dunno, I feel like a graphical face lift could actually be pretty simple, a lot easier than adding new systems or such. Improving graphics should be a simple matter of generating new higher-resolution textures and dropping them in. You could play with shaders and such, and that might be a bit more work, but it’s still probably a lot easier than (say) trying to add in or balance new combat systems or magic. And on the cynical side, they could probably just take a popular mod’s code that does what they want and incorporate it at very low cost in time.

    • Cinebeast says:

      I don’t think anyone was clamoring for it, but they’re going to buy it anyway. It was the only trailer that had my mom excited, for instance.

    • Well, if I’m lucky, this might trigger them patching the original PC version again and fix the got-dahmed lip sync bug that came with their ‘last’ patch, thereby allowing me to utilize mods made after 2014!

    • djw says:

      I run skyrim performance monitor when I play skyrim, and I have noted that it crashes whenever my memory usage goes above 2900 MB or so. My computer has 20 GB of RAM, and 4 GB of video memory. Crashing at 2900 MB is crazy.

      I’d buy a remastered version even if the ONLY thing it fixed is memory management.

  16. Supah Ewok says:

    Another point that noone’s brought up yet is that E3 is more than just trailers; the game press also gets to try demos, to report on. E3 is probably the largest collection of demos from AAA and AA companies around, and the most varied.

  17. guy says:

    The main benefit of E3 is that by being such a massive event it calls in a lot of attention from people who don’t follow gaming news all that closely. I don’t go around looking at trailers on people’s websites, but I pay attention to E3. It’s an opportune time to get a lot of people interested in a game so they’ll start following news about it.

  18. Collin Pearce says:

    Hold on.

    Leeching does work, physicians still do it to this day. That it’s a primitive self-defeating solution is self-congratulating logical fallacy based on us being smarter than our ancestors. But we’re not, really; we just have different tools for diagnostics.

    They place them near injuries, reattached limbs and burns to open blood vessels and draw the flow to the location of injury. That blood flow is crucial to bodies healing themselves.

    The problem was that they were sometimes used ineffectively. Like, it has no effect on obesity and probably none on depression.

    For example:

    http://health.howstuffworks.com/medicine/modern-treatments/leeches-in-modern-medicine.htm

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I suggest that in the future Shamus uses lobotomy as his “go to practice of ye olde times thats archaic and counterproductive”.

      • Wide And Nerdy ™ says:

        Or trepanning

        • Henson says:

          I’ll have you know I’ve performed multiple trepannings and have yet to receive a single complaint.

        • DungeonHamster says:

          Trepanning is also occasionally used these days, largely to release pressure on the brain, such as that sometimes caused by hematomas. Sure it CAN be counterproductive, but the same is true of any number of modern medical procedures. Chemotherapy, for example, can cause a great deal of harm to its recipients, though hopefully less than the cancer.

          Sure, trepanning and leeching were both much more common in the past, but in at least a few cases that’s because we have more effective things to do instead, not because they didn’t do any good at all. Most of their overuse can, I suspect, be attributed to the irrepressible human urge, not limited to our ancestors, to DO SOMETHING whether effective or not.

          Lobotomy, on the other hand, is pretty much always counterproductive. But that wasn’t developed until the late 1800’s, and saw it’s widest use in the early to mid 1900’s. Not exactly archaic.

          • Philadelphus says:

            Most of their overuse can, I suspect, be attributed to the irrepressible human urge, not limited to our ancestors, to DO SOMETHING whether effective or not.

            Now I’m just imagining the following conversation:

            Royal Inca Physician: Look, Sapa-Inca, it’s my medical opinion that another trepanning is not going to help the shaking in your hands.
            Sapa-Inca: That’s not what your rival said when I asked him. The last trepanning seemed to help some. Maybe a fourth one would help more.
            Royal Inca Physician: Look, I know you’re upset, but you’re just getting older. We simply can’t do anything about shaking hands with our current—
            Sapa-Inca: You know, I bet your rival wouldn’t be this ornery if I made HIM the royal physician. I’m the Sapa-Inca. Now will you or won’t you perform a trepanning on me?
            Royal Inca Physician: *sigh* One trepanning coming up, Your Highness.

          • djw says:

            The urge on the part of physicians to “do something” is widely accredited for the death of President Garfield (although the guy who shot him had something to do with it too).

        • Peter H. Coffin says:

          Trepanation saved my mother’s life a few years ago. I’m considering it a valid treatment for acute brain swelling. (She got better and just has a subcutaneous plate behind her ear to “show” for it. That and the knee replacement makes airport screening fun and interesting.)

    • Ninety-Three says:

      There are valid modern uses of leeching (it also helps avoid clots in certain cases), but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an archaic, self-defeating practice. Back in Ye Olde Times, people used leeches because they diagnosed ailments as being caused by imbalances in the four bodily humours, so sometimes you had to have your blood drained to fix it.

      Medical practice before the scientific method was terrible.

      • Henson says:

        This is what happens when you purchase medical treatment from your barber.

        We need to get more accredited barbers.

      • Decius says:

        For hematoma, the humorous explanation is correct enough. And bloodletting works well enough for that.

        The problem isn’t a lack of empiricism either; when Rome was suffering badly from malaria, or “bad air”, draining the nasty, smelly, mosquito-ridden swamps nearby rapidly eased the epidemic, proving that it was the bad air coming off of the swamp causing the malaria.

    • MichaelGC says:

      That’s not a logical fallacy. No logic is involved. An empirical fallacy, perhaps.

    • MadHiro says:

      For the vast preponderance of their ‘medicinal’ usage, leeches were not employed in the clever method you describe; it’s only been roughly five decades in which we’ve begun to use leeches in a manner which has any positive medical purpose. For something like two thousand years, their only use was as a form of blood letting, a practice which is only useful in such extreme edge cases that it can be safely deemed primitive and self-defeating. And lest you say ‘Well, that’s all in the past’, it isn’t. People still perform blood letting via leeches. There are still people who subscribe to the belief systems connected to the four humours. Saying that they were ‘sometimes’ used improperly ignores both the vast difference in scale when they were used incorrectly to being used well, and that they continue to be used incorrectly.

      That leeches can be used to a positive end in modern medicine does not retroactively make the practice of ‘leeching’, of letting blood to balance humours, any less of a primitive, self-defeating ‘solution’.

  19. Daemian Lucifer says:

    E3 is a relic of old times.It continues to be a thing simply because it was a thing and why stop now?Its a relic of the past.

    I know this is just anecdotal evidence,but compare to how pervasive the talks about it were just a couple years back.I never cared about e3,I never follow the major review sites regularly,yet just two years back I simply couldnt avoid seeing people talk about it.My youtube subscription box was full of various people I follow talking about e3,the twenty sided forum had a massive e3 thread a week before the event,your blog was full of comments about various trailers,and I even had emails about it in two of my addresses.

    This year,I only saw TotalBiscuits things on youtube(and those were just the highlights,and VERY snarky),my emails were clean,your top commented on post was playstation stream(and thats probably because of Kojima),and no one even mentioned it on the forum.

    E3 is dying.And it only continues to be a thing because of tradition.A horrible,horrible tradition.And Ill definitely celebrate the year when it officially stops being a thing.

  20. Thomas Lines says:

    I think E3 works for the big publishers and a handful of indies. Its a positive feedback loop where people talk about E3 be cause they talk about E3. Youtubers see big upswings in hits, more newspapers publish game news than normally do. The hype for a couple of games trickle down to casual users who normally don’t hear or watch anything. And mainstream gamers create fan wars, get hyped and generally have a lot of fun talking about E3.

    Sure all the goodness is spread over a lot of ganea , but I reckon each big game from a publisher goes further than it normally would. You heard about Death Stranding, but from other people I heard about Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, Zelda, Battlefield 1 and that Pirates game. (I have more ps4 friends than Xbox friends)

    This is both one of the most dedicated and most cynical gaming communities around, it’s not that surprising that the hype seems stunted. But a lot of friends and acquaintance s from all over the spectrum talked about games to me and around me when they never would during the year (very exceptional hype moments aside).

    The console manufacturers have the added bonus that they don’t need any particular game to succeed they just need a total level of hype higher than the money they paid for the conference

  21. Cybron says:

    I think the most important benefit of E3 is that it lets companies reach outside their bubble. When I watch any given press conference, I see some titles which are in my bubble of interest – games by developers I know featuring mechanics I’m familiar with. In some ways, that’s what brings Joe Consumer to E3, the promise of the next big thing in their existing sphere of interest. However, in the process of that, I also end up watching trailers I wouldn’t even click on if they were on YouTube. It escapes the bubble of “people who are already interested in this sort of product” which otherwise only happens for a select few AAA games and the most successful of viral marketing campaigns.

  22. Richard says:

    “What is E3 for?”
    That question is too difficult. Next!

    “What is E3?”
    The SuperBowl, but for videogames, and without all that football nonsense. It is a single point in the year when advertising companies (a.k.a. publishers) blow their entire budget on the biggest, loudest, flashiest advertisement they can make.

    “Why?”
    It’s simple, really. You said it yourself: every critic everywhere tunes in. In normal, day-to-day advertising, most critics will ignore your trailer. This means that, at best, for a non-weird trailer, you will pull in the people who are already interested in your product. Those people will then generate discussion for your product within their own, very tiny, circles. When every critic in the world watches your trailer, though, you have just turned the internet into the largest, loudest echo chamber.

    “More analogy, please.”
    I do not watch football. I do not play football. I don’t think I’ve ever held one of those egg-shaped “balls” before. I know I haven’t watched more than 10 contiguous seconds of any football match. I’ve also never watched the SuperBowl. However… I know what puppymonkeybaby is. I’ve watched that advert. I have an opinion on its product now, as well as the advertisement itself. I have previously voiced this opinion to my own tiny circle of friends, who have also watched and formed opinions on it.

    Aside, as I realized this while writing the above: Maybe this is why so few games have gameplay trailers. It doesn’t make sense to show gameplay. After all, you’re not trying to drive interest among your current customer base. You’re trying to drive large-scale discussion, and that doesn’t need anything more than crazy antics, explosions, and gruff, middle-aged, white dudes staring into the camera.

  23. Natomic says:

    I thing to remember about E3 is that it’s a trade show, not a convention. Investors probably pay a good deal of attention to E3 to get a feel for how a company is doing. If you were running a video game company and you had the opportunity to neatly lay out your plans for the next year or two, get nearly instant feedback on your plans from the gaming community, and potentially “win” E3 demonstrating the strength of your company direction, you’d probably take it.

    Many speculate that Nintendo “winning” E32014 was key to what little successes they’ve had since then. Likewise, when Sony heard everyone’s reaction to Microsoft’s xbone reveal back in 2013, it knew exactly what to say and what not to say when unveiling the PS4, garnering huge support from the community in a very showy way, despite having told us nothing about it aside from that it won’t do all the things we hated about xbone at the time.

    Ubisoft’s conference this year felt very safe which made it largely boring; it was a demonstration of a very dependable lineup to be released over the course of the next year or so. There was nothing that caused outrage within the press (just apathy), and nothing that looked like a risky gamble (which is why we’re not seeing Beyond Good & Evil 2 despite the positive press that would garner), with a couple of games that are interesting without straying too much from their hetero-normative dudebro target demographic (For Honor and the South Park game). It was a solid demonstration to investors that they would be okay for the coming year or so, with the VR stuff to show that they weren’t just jogging in place.

    Additionally, the whole E3 thing is so deeply ingrained at this point that to just stop would raise some eyebrows. When Nintendo announced that they were done with traditional press conferences, everyone was wondering what was going on, whether it was due to their less than stellar financial earnings at the time. At this point, not doing E3 would probably look like a sign of decline for most companies. If EA, Ubisoft, or Square Enix announced that they wouldn’t be holding an E3 press conference next year, we’d probably assume it was because they had no plans for the coming year (like Konami) and investors would probably assume the same.

  24. Matt Downie says:

    E3 is a gathering of publishers. Small developers looking for a publisher can meet with dozens of companies from all over the world in a couple of days. They may not even go into the show; they just hold meetings in nearby hotels, etc.

  25. I don’t think marketing is the purpose of E3 or any other trade shows. It is less an opportunity for the press/customers to see what’s in the pipeline and more an opportunity for the industry members to interact WITH EACH OTHER and show off their work to OTHER INDUSTRY PEOPLE.

    You’d be hard-pressed to find an industry that DOESN’T have some kind of trade show or meetup similar to this, just most of them aren’t as inundated with press. The industry folks have to put on a show for the press because every turd major companies produce has to be polished to a mirror shine when anyone might catch a glimpse of it. But that’s not the PURPOSE of the trade show.

  26. EmmEnnEff says:

    Winner-take-all press coverage means that you can’t afford to not participate in the marketing side of E3.

    It’s like any other kind of advertising. Suppose that Bill and Dave run two competing furniture stores. Their offerings aren’t too different, their locales aren’t too different, their prices aren’t too different.

    Bill buys an ad in the paper. If Dave doesn’t want to fall behind, he should probably buy an ad in the paper.

    Bill buys an ad on TV. If Dave doesn’t want to fall behind, he should probably also buy an ad on TV.

    Bill spends $15,000 on an AdWords campaign… Dave… Does the same thing.

    End result: They still get the same amount of business, but Google is $30,000 richer. Yet, every move in this game made sense at the time.

  27. Ardyvee says:

    Regarding the condensation of news into a single week, I would personally not mind if sites decided to talk about things that were shown/happened in E3 a few weeks after said event, assuming there is something to talk about. Of course, by necessity it would need to be more than just “this happened”, but that is why we are here.

    However, I feel like this year’s E3 didn’t have that much worth talking about. A lot of it felt like not much at all and that I should wait for more information before talking about it.

    Which is not to say that perhaps we would be better served by a different E3. A lesser focus on trailers and a stronger focus on actual gameplay paired with interesting discussion about the game being show would go a long way towards being much more interesting. I just don’t see it happening.

  28. Mephane says:

    Yes, I know that’s an old meme.

    But it checks out.

    And now I am really curious if Shamus expected this image as a response to that sentence, and possibly even attempted to provoke it. :)

  29. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

    The whole “Why is there E3 now?” question is pretty easily answered as it is an event, a show and a lot of people watch it because of that, and tons of people attend to get connections, even people who are not in the media. I watch Good Game (being in Australia and being the only good reliable televised show about gaming) and they touched onto this bit during their E3 special (which you should be able to find on Youtube as well).

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