E3 is once again almost upon us, and with it all the clichéd anticipation and hype. However, what is starting to become a trend is the number of announcements/reveals made before E3 has even begun.
When I first noticed this a couple of years ago I stated that many of the official announcements made by the publishers were covering for accidental leaks or impromptu announcements within financial reports. Now, however, publishers appear to be doing this to beat the almost inevitable leaks; not that they are all succeeding in this regard.
Details for the latest Destiny expansion have already emerged from two sources, both mistakenly released before the official announcement that was still to take place before E3 on June 9th. Likewise with Ubisoft’s sequel to its underwhelming (yet surprisingly not unsuccessful) Watch Dogs (sorry, Watch_Dogs) was to have its new lead character and setting revealed in a carefully prepared reveal video that also worked as a mini behind the scenes documentary. Ubisoft had put out a teaser video beforehand to drum up interest and swell the hype. Unfortunately, IGN scuppered these plans, by accidentally publishing advertising for the game, giving away both the main character, setting, and launch date.
If major publishers aren’t able to prevent leaks from occurring even for pre-E3 reveals, does this undermine the purpose of E3, or having an event where the majority of the industry news is released in the span of a month? Although it is worth noting that with the aforementioned games, and other leaks of a similar nature, they are for series’ that already exist, be it a sequel, expansion, or re-release. Perhaps the publishers almost need to get these “smaller” announcements out of the way now, to give more space for the big announcements to come. Also they have the added benefit of extending the media circus in the run up to E3 with actual news, rather than pure speculation that usually precedes E3, although of course that still takes place.
In addition, it gets people hyped for the press conferences to come, which in recent years have become increasingly oriented towards those watching at home than the press sat in the audience. This is part of the rationale for Nintendo’s approach to its E3 presentation (which ironically was much maligned for when it announced its decision).
It is also important to remember that it is still possible to keep things hidden, ready to provide a surprise announcement during the live press conference. Sony provided a masterclass in this last year for 2015, somehow managing to keep under wraps announcements for The Last Guardian, Shenmue 3, and the Final Fantasy VII remake.
There has been an increase in opinion pieces about the demise of E3 (even though the event has already experienced a rebirth in 2009) in part due to publishers like EA not having a booth at the event – even though they will have a press conference at the same time – and whatever the hell it is Nintendo is actually doing this year. An industry that did not rely so heavily on the existence of E3 might be slightly better for it, as it is a tremendous strain on all involved to apply so much of their time and effort into one point of the year. The alternative would be stretching that out throughout the whole year; isn’t that essentially what the smaller developers have to do now, begging for scraps around the table of the big publishers?
Regardless, E3 is here for another year, and there is likely to be news from Sony about its PS4K/Neo – or whatever they decide to name their updated PS4 – and possibly a similar kind of announcement from Microsoft. And who knows, maybe Nintendo (in addition to the all the Zelda news and maybe Pokémon Sun & Moon) will provide some kind of news on the forthcoming NX console.
E3 may be on the ropes, but don’t count it out just yet.