E3 2015 was a solid event overall, for some it was one of the best in years, and for others it was some kind of living nightmare. E3 did do a lot right this year, it was great to see real attempts at better representation both on stage and in the games themselves, so it is hard to criticise it as a whole, but the benefit of covering it without actually being there keeps you out of the physical hype that exudes from the LA Convention Center.
I said it last week, and I still stand by it, but it felt like the EA and Ubisoft conferences (and definitely Square Enix) conferences were unnecessary. EA could potentially lessen this by splitting its conference into two, one focusing on EA Games and the other on EA Sports, as the two don’t gel together very well, and it’s not just that I’m not one for sports games on the whole, Twitter seemed to feel the same way. EA Sports can be present at E3, it needs to be as this is a press conference after all, but the stream for those at home having to sit through Pele (nothing against him though) talk about football for however long it was and the developer fanboy all over him was very dull. Ubisoft meanwhile could have folded into the Microsoft and Sony conferences quite easily. Then again Microsoft and Sony’s conference didn’t drag this year, so maybe we should be thankful for Ubisoft dragging theirs out.
Now onto the crux of my reflection on this years E3. Think back to what the biggest announcements were; Xbox 360 backwards compatibility, Final Fantasy VII remake, Shenmue 3. Also think about what people were angry about; Nintendo didn’t bring the right kind of Metroid Prime game, and Star Fox Zero doesn’t play how it should. People were excited over the fact that they could replay old games and that sequels for dead franchises were announced. In addition with the case of The Last Guardian excited that a game announced years ago was finally coming, eventually.
Before you start frantically writing in the comments regarding my cynicism towards those announcements, know that I too am excited by the announcements, and for those that I don’t care about (e.g. Final Fantasy VII) I am excited for others as they have been waiting years whilst being constantly baited by Square Enix. However I do think that it is a shame that so much focus has gone towards what is essentially using nostalgia to get people excited (or in the case of Shenmue getting people to cough up their money now) which is overshadowing the few new ideas.
E3 2015 did have new IPs except only two really stick out, those being Horizon: New Dawn and For Honor. Yes there were plenty of new games, but they were part of existing franchises. I do feel for Nintendo as often they just can’t win. With Federation Force if it was its own IP there is the very real risk that it would just be overlooked, but given the space shooter aspect to it Nintendo thought that it didn’t seem all too out of place from the Metroid Prime series. Yet because it is a spinoff and not a “proper” Metroid Prime game it was derided regardless of how good it might be. Remember Blast Ball looking interesting during the Nintendo World Championships before people were aware of the Metroid Prime connection (it is the second game in the package), well the Internet seemed to forget that pretty quickly. Meaning instead of new gameplay ideas, people wanted the same as they had before. Of course the irony with this is that when the original Metroid Prime was announced, it too was denounced because it wasn’t a “proper” Metroid game.
Nostalgia is great, I know that (I am a long suffering Nintendo fan after all) but people need to be willing to try out new types of games and hopefully new IPs. The big publishers are often criticised for not taking enough risks, but it’s times like this where I don’t blame them, if anything I’m amazed they take as many risks as they do, given how vocal people get when they try something a little different. Videogames might be something for us to enjoy, but we should not have this huge sense of entitlement. If videogames are to truly grow and expand, the industry can’t be afraid to take risks for fear of backlash. Risks can lead to progression, and whilst there will be failures along the way, at least they will be made with good intentions, and not just so that they can make money. Of course we’re still fairly early into this console generation, and given the experimentation that started to emerge due both to better familiarity and the technical limitations of the consoles next year could be just as promising.