E3 2017: Intro

By Shamus
on Jun 9, 2017
Filed under:
Video Games

As in the past, I’m going to be watching the livestream of E3. But this year instead of adding my own commentary on top of the show (which made it easy for ME to miss things, or to make it so I would drown out the presenters so YOU miss them) I’m just going to live blog it.

E3 is such a strange beast. There are three groups involved, and they all want different things:

The Publishers

In 2016, Ubisoft hired professional dancers to show us how fun their dance game is when played by professional dancers.

In 2016, Ubisoft hired professional dancers to show us how fun their dance game is when played by professional dancers.

The publishers want to get the biggest bang out of their marketing dollars by making announcements at this point of maximum public interest. All eyes are on E3. Well, not really “all eyes”. The vast majority of “gamers”Whatever THAT means. ignore E3. But the core audience is keenly interested in it. These people are the big spenders, early adopters, and platform loyalists, and with the right touch their enthusiasm can be harnessed to generate even more hype.

So the publishers invest a lot of money trying to control the narrative. They want favorable coverage with timing they control. They want everyone to buy as much as possible, as soon as possible, with as little scrutiny as possible.

The Consumers:

GAH. I get crowd anxiety just looking at this picture.

GAH. I get crowd anxiety just looking at this picture.

The audience wants accurate information to inform their future purchasing decisions.

Is Shoot Guy 3 going to properly support 60fps at launch. Is it worth holding off to buy Shoot Guy later in the year, or would it be better to spend that money on Punch Guy 5 right now? If the multiplayer is fixed then I want Punch Guy on the GameStation, but if it’s still a load of crap I might as well get the cheaper PC version. Is it worth getting the MMO spinoff Shoot Guy Online? I like the Shoot Guy games, but this MMO is being developed by a different studio and I’m worried it’s just a branding trick and it won’t have anything that made the Shoot Guy franchise great. Do I NEED to get the next-gen GameStation, or is the old one going to continue to get worthwhile titles for another year? Is the Pelvic Thruster motion controlled codpiece peripheral worth getting? Why is the wireless version SO much more expensive? Is it really worth the extra money? Is International SportsBall 2018 going to fix the wonky team management AI that ruined ISB 2017?

The Journalists

Here`s your press pass. Please go to the press events, drink the booze, listen to the lies, soak in the bullshit, and then come back and report honestly on what you saw while still jet-lagged and sleep deprived.

Here`s your press pass. Please go to the press events, drink the booze, listen to the lies, soak in the bullshit, and then come back and report honestly on what you saw while still jet-lagged and sleep deprived.

The gaming journalists (or rather, the sites that employ them) want trafficI suppose you could argue that “journalists” and “gaming sites” are technically two different sides in this conflict, given how often journalists are frustrated by the sites they work for. But whatever.. They don’t care if the news is good or bad, as long as it gets people talking and generating traffic. Does the new trailer for Karate Assault Girls Turbo show a bunch of sideboob? That’s worth a million clicksSome get their clicks by using the sideboob to stoke outrage, and others get clicks by using the sideboob as a titillating lure. Either way, that’s how you pay the bills.. Was Shoot Guy Online development “put on hiatus”, leaving thousands of preorders in limbo? That’s worth a million clicks! Does the next-gen GameStation catch fire when connecting it to a USB hard drive? That’s definitely worth a million clicks.

Everyone’s goals are at odds with each other. Publishers want fawning softball coverage, consumers want accurate details, and gaming sites just want traffic because that’s what keeps the lights on.

I suppose that consumers and journalists have goals that align. If there’s bad news, they want to know about it as soon as possible. Sadly, in the calculated hype of E3, journalists can’t really get that. All they can do is repeat the announcements, show the trailers, and speculate.

Speculation sounds fun, but the public can be kind of picky about this. If you’re too positive then you’re a shill, and if you’re too negative then you’re guilty of hating on a game before you’ve had a chance to play it.

So what’s the point?

“Shamus, if E3 is so worthless then why are you bothering to cover it?”

I wouldn’t say it’s worthless. The publishers still have things to tell us, even if we have to sift their words to get the truth. When Ubisoft tells us that the upcoming changes to Uplay will bring “A more exciting and engaging experience for fans”, we can see where the corporate leadership is headed. UPlay probably isn’t going to be more “exciting and engaging”, but we can tell that the leadership is once again doubling down on the system everyone hates and they haven’t begun to grasp the basics of what’s wrong with the platform.

More importantly, I think it’s a cool excuse to hang out, take in the “news”, and see what’s coming.

The Plan

I don’t want to give every single presentation its own post, since that would bury the site in a dozen posts over the weekend. On the other hand, putting all of E3 into a single giant post doesn’t make any sense either.

So here’s what I’m going to do: Each day will get its own post. The post will be updated with my thoughts and impressions as the day goes on.

Here’s the schedule of all the stuff I’m planning to watch.

The times given are in Eastern US time. (UTC-04:00)
Saturday 3PM EA Press Conference
Sunday 6PM Microsoft Press Conference
Monday 1AM Bethesda Press Conference
Monday 5PM Ubisoft Circus of Tone-Deaf Idiocy (AKA press conference)
Monday 11PM Sony Press Conference
Tuesday 1PM Nintendo Press Conference. (I might skip this.)

There are more presentations planned for individual games, but I’m not sure what will strike my fancy or if we’ll still care by Tuesday. We’ll see.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!

Footnotes:

[1] Whatever THAT means.

[2] I suppose you could argue that “journalists” and “gaming sites” are technically two different sides in this conflict, given how often journalists are frustrated by the sites they work for. But whatever.

[3] Some get their clicks by using the sideboob to stoke outrage, and others get clicks by using the sideboob as a titillating lure. Either way, that’s how you pay the bills.



20208Feeling chatty? There are 48 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. Jonn says:

    A fix or two:

    But of the core audience is keenly interested in it.

    I think you accidentally a word there.

    Monday 1AM Bethesda Press Conference

    1AM seems an odd time for that, unless I’m misunderstanding US timezones.

    • drmickhead says:

      All the reports I’ve seen says it’s actually starting an hour earlier, at 12 am Eastern. Still a ridiculous time to start.

      • Mortuorum says:

        Yeah, that’s right. I thought it was a typo. It makes slightly more sense when you realize that’s 9:00 pm Pacific, but it still seems odd to schedule a press conference at a time that effectively excludes the entire East Coast.

  2. Zaxares says:

    Did anyone look at the picture of the consumers and go, “Huh. There’s like 20 guys for every girl there. No wonder the gaming industry still think it’s a male-dominated hobby”? XD

    • AmandaGrill says:

      Also similar to reality is that there’s a clearly visible girl in the front, so you don’t notice until you give it a more careful look.

    • Scampi says:

      Now that you mention it…I think the quota is a bit better than 20:1, but still it’s rather skewed.
      Actually, even I believe it’s still male dominated when it comes to the hardcore ones (which I would NOT count myself among)-I know multiple girls who game, but most (of those I know, of course) tend to replay older games until the sun burns out and will only pick up new games if they are pushed.
      Also, they are way more hesitant to invest in hardware.

      • Groboclown says:

        My wife is in this latter category. She loves to play the old Tomb Raider (1 & 2, and with some regret 3) and Populous The Beginning.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        I always felt that hardcore vs casual gamer distinction should be based on the investment in gaming rather than the genre.Someone who plays candy crush 18 hours a day is more hardcore than someone who plays an hour of skyrim.

        • Scampi says:

          I don’t know, I have a different perspective on this. While I generally agree that being devoted to the hobby is a primary focus to judge someone’s being a gamer, I think someone who constantly “monoplays” is a bit lower on the ladder than someone who mostly plays one title but is also at least regularly on the lookout for other titles to judge if something better has come around.
          An example would be the time when a roommate and I spent huge amounts of time on WC3 while also comparing other RTSs while also looking for new exciting games for LAN-sessions while also looking for new titles in other genres etc. I think at that time I was way more of a gamer than my girlfriend who will play a single game for years, never actually look for other titles of her own initiative and usually not develop a deeper understanding of, for example, underlying mechanics.

          To make it a bit clearer: I think the most important difference to me is whether someone would play of his own accord or has to be pushed into the direction of gaming.

        • Agammamon says:

          It is, in its own way. Its just called ‘mobile gaming’ versus ‘core gaming’ (not short for hardcore either).

          So I guess you can be a hardcore toilet gamer and a casual core gamer at the same time.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            True,but it can be so much more than just.There are some mobile games(like clash of clans)that are actual esports,with tournaments and big money being pushed by sponsors.Being invested in one of those goes far beyond gaming,leading to people being invested in other things the publishers are working on(this is how clash royale became a thing),watching tournaments,youtube strategies,etc,etc.Someone interested in all these side things is more hardcore than someone who just plays games,regardless of time spent actually playing.

          • Shamus says:

            Another interesting wrinkle here:

            “Gamers” (whatever that means) tend to define “core” and “casual” in terms of hours played, or genre played. But I’ll bet publishers make a similar distinction, except over spending habits. People that spend > $X are “hardcore”, and people that spend < $X are “casual”.

      • Cubic says:

        My relatives and in-laws of the femalistic persuasion basically only play mobile games, and those spread by word of mouth only. They will never watch an E3 stream, I can assure you of that.

    • djw says:

      That’s a pretty thick crowd. Maybe the gender ratio in the picture reflects the fact that all the smaller people have already been trampled.

      • Scampi says:

        That’s actually close to one of the first thoughts I had-I thought if women on average are shorter than men, there’s a good chance for women to be in the picture but not visible due to being covered by larger men standing in front of them, especially on the escalator.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Thats why you should never judge your user base just by the look of a public gathering.For example,some years back I had an idea to dye my hair sky blue,and went to my mothers hair dresser,because female hair dressers are the only ones that dye hair in my country(as far as I know).She told me that unusual colors like sky blue,green and purple were sought by men more than women*,even though if you just look at people walking down the street,youll see that women have dyed hair more often.So every single hair dye was marketed to women,had females on their packagings,were sold in female focused stores,etc,even though women usually sought blond and red colors,while men sought greens and blues.

      This is,I think,how you can distinguish bad marketing campaigns:They judge their customers just by looking at a random public gathering of people who might have interest in their products.Meanwhile,good marketers will delve deeper,try to converse with the consumers to find out actual demographic breakdown,and anticipate a trend before it becomes widely known.

      *Again,just in this small part of my country,dont know how it holds elsewhere

  3. Arakus says:

    Not planning to watch the PC gaming or devolver digital conferences? (I know Devolver overlaps with Bethesda but you could watch the vod after)

  4. Writiosity says:

    For some reason I misread ‘Publishers’ as ‘Pushers’. To be fair, there’s not much of a distinction.

    • Henson says:

      *Meets EA exec in a dark alley*

      “You got the stuff?”

      “Yeah, I got the stuff. You got the money?”

      *feverishly shaking* “Yeah.”

      “Then sign into your Origin account and accept the terms of service.”

      *starts sweating*

  5. Hal says:

    Is the Pelvic Thruster motion controlled codpiece peripheral worth getting?

    You bet your sweet gaming dollars it is. Fun for the whole family!

  6. Darren says:

    I don’t know what to expect from Nintendo this year. I think they’ve laid out the year’s releases pretty well and there’s not likely to be anything substantial to talk about that we don’t already know. Although for my part, I’m hungry for more excuses to use my Switch (why is Stardew Valley not out for it yet!?).

    Will you be covering the PC gaming show?

  7. Gawain The Blind says:

    Not gonna lie, I was kind of hoping E3 was dead back in 2007 or whatever, when they fucked it all up.

    • Kylroy says:

      I really thought that was going to kill it, especially with the “emperor has no clothes” week where every major publisher withdrew in short order. I’m surprised more companies haven’t gone the Blizzcon route – run a convention designed to solely hype *your* product, and get a guaranteed weekend of coverage to yourself rather than struggling to be heard over everyone else.

  8. Bloodsquirrel says:

    E3 isn’t really for core gamers. Core gamers are easy to reach; just send a press release to gaming news sites. It’s primary purpose is to be an event that’s large enough to break into non-gaming news. You won’t get non-core gamers tuning in directly for the press conferences, but if that conference generates an article that winds up in the general news, then they’ve accomplished their mission.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I don’t think consumers want a fair coverage of e3. At least not in the last 5 years or so. They rather watch it as a freak show, to see who is the most out of touch, and who wins the image competition. many journalists have caught on this, which is why e3 mocking has been on the rise. and even some publishers have become aware of this and focus more on looking better than the rest, rather than giving us interesting games (ironically, this often makes them look worse ).

    Its just a modern circus, with a few actually interesting products sparsely sprinkled here and there.

  10. Garrett Carroll says:

    Can’t wait for The Elder Scrolls 6! Oh wait, we haven’t been surprised enough yet by Bethesda. I just hope they announce something fun at E3.

  11. Paul Spooner says:

    Looking forward to your thoughts! I’ve gotten rather disconnected from the gaming scene over the past year, and it will be fun to hear where things are and where they are headed.

  12. wswordsmen says:

    I want to tell yo the answer to the question “why are you covering it?”

    Because it is a Schelling Focal Point.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focal_point_(game_theory)

    A point that is important because everyone knows it is important. The payoff to covering it even in blanket coverage exceeds the payoff of everything else because the audience you are going after will ignore everything else because they know the important things will happen there.

    If this sounds like a self-perpetuating system that only exists because the system keeps feeding back on itself and there is no apparent reason why it started. Exactly now you are getting what I am saying

    • Bloodsquirrel says:

      If this sounds like a self-perpetuating system that only exists because the system keeps feeding back on itself and there is no apparent reason why it started. Exactly now you are getting what I am saying.

      Not really true. It exists because it’s useful. While the date, location, and trappings may be arbitrary, it benefits those involved because having a focal point draws attention and creates information density in a way that scattered announcements wouldn’t.

      The reason it started was because people knew the value of such focal points ahead of time, and actively worked to create it.

      • wswordsmen says:

        Going backwards.

        Not true at all, a number of them grow out of convention that was created over time, not because people actively said “we need a point we can all focus on”.

        It continues because it is useful, however the use comes from the fact everyone already knows about it, because it proves itself useful by providing a function that it couldn’t unless everyone already knew about it.

        • Bloodsquirrel says:

          Not true at all, a number of them grow out of convention that was created over time, not because people actively said “we need a point we can all focus on”.

          That is exactly how conventions get started, though. They can’t just “grow over time” out of nothingness. Somebody has to rent the convention hall, manage the space, create the administration for guests, etc. That doesn’t just happen, somebody decides to make it happen. Somebody says “hey, we really could use a convention so that developers can get together and share information”, so they pick a time and date and spend a lot of effort advertising to get people to come.

          A convention is, by it’s very definition, a focal point. Focal points don’t “grow out” of them, they’re inherent to the concept. We’ve been having conventions for thousands of years, created willfully because there was a need for them.

          It continues because it is useful, however the use comes from the fact everyone already knows about it, because it proves itself useful by providing a function that it couldn’t unless everyone already knew about it.

          People don’t know about conventions “because it proves itself useful by providing a function that it couldn’t unless everyone already knew about it”, they know about them because they’re actively advertised and have a cultivated media presence. All of it is by design.

          • wswordsmen says:

            You seem to be confusing this particular focal point and all focal points. I was talking about focal points in general, verses this one in particular.

  13. Angelo says:

    Most of those times are wrong, I believe.
    Just so we’re all on the same page:
    ET stands for “Eastern Time”. It refers to whichever is being used currently between EST (Eastern Standard Time) and EDT (Eastern Daylight Time). So, right now it refers to EDT. Same goes for PT.
    Also, ET = PT + 3 hours

    – EA is correct.
    – Microsoft is at 17:00 ET. Technically there’s a pre-show 30 minutes before that.
    This is the official stream, it should tell you the time in your timezone in the bottom left corner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ4GpE3c97U
    – Bethesda is at 21:00 PT -> 0:00 ET. The official site says: “Won’t be in LA? You can still catch our livestream […] starting at 9pm PT”
    – Ubisoft is at 16:00 ET. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKXDIp3bm4s

    Sony is giving me trouble.
    Historically all of their conferences of the past years have been at 21:00 ET.
    HOWEVER:
    – Their US site says “17:00 PST”. Problem is, PST is NOT in use right now… did they mean 17:00 PDT or 17:00 PST = 18:00 PDT?
    – Their GB site says “1:00 BST, 2:00 CEST”. The timezone codes are correct (BST = British Summer Time, CEST = Central European Summer Time”), but it points to 17:00 PDT, meaning they got the timezone code wrong in the US site… so which is correct?

    I believe a similar misunderstanding arose last year, and ultimately the time was the same as the previous years (21:00 ET).
    Anyways it’s either at 20:00 ET or 21:00 ET.

    -Finally, Nintendo is at 12:00 ET. This is the link to the Japanese stream, but it still tells you the right time in the corner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIgmqI3oTpk

    Here’s a handy site with countdowns for every conference and if you really need it a useful timetable.

    p.s.: I hope I haven’t messed up any of the code, because this took a lot to type down.

  14. MadTinkerer says:

    “The audience wants accurate information to inform their future purchasing decisions.”

    Gosh darn it, Shamus. For the last time: until this year, E3 has been a TRADE SHOW, NOT A CONVENTION.

    Even with some of the public getting access, “the audience” is primarily made up of people like you meeting with other people like you: developers. Also: students, publishers, marketers, retailers, bloggers, technology themed Youtubers, and other people directly involved in the industry.

    That is why E3 was the place to make announcements before journalists turned it into a circus by broadcasting the press conferences. The press conferences are indeed for the consumers, because developers who aren’t involved with staging the press conferences are not even allowed on the same floor. The press conferences are actually nothing like what the entire rest of E3 is like.

    Most of what actually physically happens at E3 is simply people like you talking to other people like you. I’ve been there. If you go there, I guarantee it will be nothing like what is broadcast for the public. You will see and hear and talk to people that just do not get covered like the press conferences do.

    I’m concerned about the public access this year. Maybe it will be for the best, or maybe they’ll drop it next year because the public will fan-boy-ishly try to turn it into PAX or yet another convention. It’s not that I dislike PAX or Magfest, it’s just that those things already exist. If E3 turns into a convention; what’s left: GDC? There are enough conventions already, all year long, with no problem of attendance. But there are hardly any trade shows or developers’ conferences by comparison.

    But what makes me the most disappointed, is that even a small-time game developer doesn’t want to acknowledge that the vast majority of the people in the crowd are other small-time game developers. Come on, Shamus.

    • Boobah says:

      It’s not that I dislike PAX or Magfest, it’s just that those things already exist.

      This bit stands out, because as I recall PAX began because a few (err… many? It’s many now, isn’t it? *sigh*) years back E3 decided that no, they really didn’t want to become a con for fans but to be what they were founded to be, a trade show. At which point the Penny Arcade guys decided that if E3 didn’t want the gaming fanboys they’d make their own con, thank you very much.

      • Duoae says:

        It’s funny though because they’ve been doing these streams for years . This is the first time they’re legitimately letting ‘fans’ into the event (they’ve been getting in through other means for a long time now) but that’s not going to fundamentally change the fact that as a ‘trade show’ E3 has been failing to deliver for at least 10 years. Developers and publishers are not happy with it in its recent form and value other events more highly. Hence the move to legitimise the fan portion of the crowd at the event.

        • MadTinkerer says:

          Eh, maybe. I guess I just don’t care what the big spenders do?

          I mean: I guess there wouldn’t be the opportunity for all the “small fish” to hang out together if the “big fish” sponsors weren’t blowing their annual marketing budgets on a convention center in the middle of L.A. But at the same time, getting to go and meet people I’d never otherwise meet in person is the main feature of E3 to me.

          For example: I met the Torchlight devs before Torchlight was released. That was so fantastic. I got to meet the Cogs guys at Indiecade. I got to meet the Flywrench guy (In 2009! Anyone else remember that version of Flywrench?). I got to meet Mega Ran. I got to meet people who made stuff that was later canceled and they ended up working on something else, so I never would have otherwise talked to them about the canceled games. I got to meet people who made stuff and their games did okay and they’ve made a bunch of okay games in the meantime.

          The E3 that is broadcast is the fakest thing ever. The E3 that you don’t usually get to see is the realest thing ever. I just wish the real E3 was talked about more.

  15. MadTinkerer says:

    Man, I need to stop posting drunk.

  16. Duoae says:

    I actually really enjoy E3. It’s the most concentrated gaming event of the year (for me) and I accuracy find the presentations really informative. Then again, I’m not really one for hype and I can usually tell what a game *is* from the released information. E.g. NMS was not a surprise for me. ;)

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