This E3 is being heralded as the best one for many years. Blockbuster announcements, revivals of old franchises and games long though dead have risen from the graves for studios to parade around as the conquering heroes for fans to throw money at. On first glance, this year’s show is the one to beat but looking at it closer, this year’s E3 has just been a exercise in how effective manufactured hype can be.
It’s not to say that the show is a complete monstrous display of the power of million dollar marketing departments. OK, it is but we saw some fresh new IP hit the stage. Horizon: Zero Dawn is delving into post post apocalypse, complete with Zoids fighting hunter gatherers while Sea of Thieves seems to be a colourful take on pirates which doesn’t involve diving into bales of hay or murdering people. Titles like Death’s Gambit, Enter the Gungeon and Cuphead act as indie relief in the bombardment of triple A games and Nintendo seems to be doing what Nintendo always does, which is make fun stuff even if it isn’t what their consumers may want. While it is not all doom and gloom, it is certainly pretty shocking on how effective E3 was in blowing people away on stuff which we won’t see for many years, or that isn’t all that groundbreaking.
Sony’s conference is the shining example of this year’s shock and awe mentality. It opened with The Last Guardian, which made many start spasming in ecstasy before unloading Shenmue 3 and the FF7 remake which made hardcore Playstation fans lob wallets at their screens at a record rate. While this may seem amazing, what did we actually see? The Last Guardian looked exactly the same as it did 6 years ago, we only got the promise that Shenmue 3 will be made sometime in the future if fans plop down over $2 million and we got a cinematic trailer for the FF7 remake which just tells us that we may see it sometime in the future. Moreover, the ephemeral 2016 release date hangs over The Last Guardian, Shenmue 3 will be out in 2018 at the earliest while FF7 will only appear next winter at the earliest yet the way fans reacted, you’d think Jesus had beamed into their PS4s and started handing out free money.
Even worse with Shenmue 3, Sony have now revealed they are putting funding to make Shenmue 3 so the Kickstarter was simply to gain interest. So, the whole ‘announcement’ was basically a fan funded investor’s pitch which will only get a return 3 years down the line. This is apparently the best E3 in years? A promise of a revival, a remake of a game which will probably be spurned by hardcore fans on release for being too different and something which hasn’t seen a major development in 6 years. All of this to hide the fact that Sony have nothing for the rest of the year and that we have to wait even longer for the good stuff. Let’s turn to other developers, as Sony aren’t the only one using this tactic of shock and awe.