E3 has long been one of the industry’s calendar highlights – an unabashed spectacle to which the biggest games developers and media flock to for their first glimpse of some of the most ambitious hardware and games releases in the months (and years) ahead. Hardware announcements at this year’s show have shown that graphical fidelity and immersive storytelling remain a huge focus to the consumer with Microsoft announcing its most powerful console yet and Sony sharing more of the games that will see the light of day once their VR headset is launched later this year. The run up to the show itself has been marked by some controversy as some of the biggest players in the industry de-camp to their own consumer focused events a short stroll down from the Los Angeles Convention centre. In E3 terms this is a seismic event akin to the UK exiting the Euro. But in spite of these splitters, E3’s presence around the globe is seemingly unaffected in an industry whose audience is excited, engaged and online. Although turnout was slightly down on last year’s event, the 50,000+ people that do manage to flood through the doors during the event are just the tip of the iceberg – with many millions of people streaming the major announcements online around the planet and engaging through social media. In short, despite the scepticism, E3 pulled it off again and remains as being THE place to get your game noticed whether you happen to actually be there or not.
This year, there were in excess of 160 trailers competing for online eyeballs. At the show itself, this can be an unfathomable concept to comprehend – a visual feast of sound and vision as publishers raise the bar ever upwards in an attempt to sear their game into the player’s mind. Given the huge costs of developing some of the biggest games on show, it’s no surprise that the publishers should want to pull out all the stops in an effort to stand out. 2K’s faithful recreation of a two story New Orleans Jazz club, complete with tarot readers and a house band to house their Mafia III game, stands out as being a particularly grand case in point as to the lengths that publishers will go to give the right impression. Nintendo too went to extraordinary lengths with their huge bespoke grass carpeted booth complete with fauna, trees and medieval archways in an effort to bring attention to their one game on display – the much anticipated ‘The legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’. Rare showed off their latest blockbuster ‘Sea of Thieves’ to a hugely appreciative (and long!) queue of gamers – especially gratifying given RealtimeUK’s role in the game’s genesis a couple of years ago in the form of a Visual Target Movie developed by our own cinematics team. Successful though they were in attracting a snaking queue of fevered players to try these games first hand, the real opportunity for E3 and arguably its future raison d’être , is the potential to attract global audiences online. Given the ratio between those attending in person and those online, it’s no surprise that one of E3’s highlights is the huge anticipation for major trailers. This year, the CG trailers got noticeably more epic and longer, with Microsoft’s ‘Halo Wars 2’ and Ubisoft’s ‘For Honor’ continuing a trend for increasingly bombastic visual feasts that will guarantee that these games are remembered online long after the extravagant booths have been packed away. RealtimeUK’s own small contribution to this year’s show was for Focus Interactive’s ‘Farming Simulator ‘17’ developed by Giants Software – proving that a CG approach is not an exclusive approach to major marketing assets or reserved for only the biggest publishers.
Despite the cynicism that preceded this year’s show, E3 has once again silenced its critics and remains a staple highlight in the Games Industry calendar. Given the rude health of the industry overall, perhaps some of the cynicism may have come from those segments of the industry who feel E3 is no longer an accurate reflection of the Games Industry overall. The last five years has seen a seismic shift in the ways in which games are not only sold and marketed, but the innovative platforms and hardware through which they can be consumed. Whilst F2P online and mobile games are still criminally under-represented by E3, other events like Gamescom and PAX have picked up the mantle and represent huge opportunities for developers and publishers of all sizes to market their games. RealtimeUK especially have benefitted from this growth and we can’t wait to show you some of the exciting projects our team have been creating for these events in the months ahead.