So E3, widely considered by many to be the main gaming conference, the one with nearly a million nerds watching livestreams from all 3 console manufacturers making their big announcements, has come and gone. While Microsoft either continued their turnaround from the lowpoint of the infamous vague Xbox One announcement or remained steady with a few surprises as usual, such as more studio buyouts for first party video games or lots and lots of big game announcements, Sony completely dropped the ball with an absolute mess of a presentation with too much time away from the show (cutting to the post show stuff in the middle of the stream), too few announcements, and a game showing off a long and drawn out lesbian kissing scene (buy this game now you bigot), and Nintendo’s announcement was well, the usual pre-recorded announcement video customized depending on your region. Meanwhile most of the publisher E3s were boring, but Devolver Digital did some weird presentation that only showed 3 games and was short, but which teetered between the Sam Hyde speech videos and over the top shitting on the event itself, and unfunny reddit humor and being a bit too scripted.
But the million-dollar question is this? Are the games any good? Well see, the thing with E3s and game demos is, nobody trusts them anymore. E3 has become a place to watch overly scripted gameplay demos which are out of sync with buttons the gamers are pressing on stage that are many times pre-recorded or played in a very specific way to avoid accidentally showing off flaws, and lately many games shown are just trailers with people pretending to play them, to avoid infamous events such as a game freezing up on stage:
Or even worse, the game’s controls just straight up breaking:
But not only that, but E3 is also now full of games that end up broken with numerous false promises made during the reveal, such as what happened with the Halo Master Chief collection (can you believe it’s been 4 years and they’re still saying “we’re gonna fix it guys we promise”?) It’s also full of games with downgrades and cut content that get shown at E3, with the final product resembling the game you can buy on the shelf very little, or looking like a laughably downgraded version of it:
Essentially these demos become bait and switches, and at this point you can’t trust these demos very much. In fact, BioShock Infinite, the game I linked, had enough cut content for 5 or 6 games to be made from, while Watch Dogs, another E3 hypefest that stole the show, ended up so downgraded that graphically it looked like a mediocre last gen game and nothing like those stunning E3 demos…and then some hackers found out how to re enable the graphics on the PC port. Did I mention these are all shown through shitty cinematic trailers that don’t get to the point? And don’t get me started on games that look impressive, then get canned, letting many gamers down, or games that make appearances at 2-3 E3 conferences in a row.
So, while game developers have gained a reputation for making overly scripted demos, bait and switches, and lying about games, that’s not even their biggest sin as of late this E3. The worst thing at this E3 has been the fact that originality seems to have dried up this gen. Lots of gamers are excited about Metal Wolf Chaos, Resident Evil 2, and Super Smash Bros 5. Oh wait, one’s a port of an obscure original Xbox game that numerous people with a modded Xbox downloaded after seeing the YouTube videos of it, one’s a remake of a PS1 game, and one’s an asset flip of a Wii U/3ds game attached to a brand name guaranteed to make the jaws of a hedonistic nerd spring right open. The new original IPs aren’t looking too interesting, but there were a lot of other sequels to long running franchises, or remakes. Devil May Cry 5. Tales of Vesperia HD. Nier Automata on the Xbox One. Fallout 76. Some new Metro game. Nioh 2. Kingdom Hearts 3. The only new IP that universally stood out was Cyberpunk 2077, and that was also an adaptation of a not-quite-known pen and paper role playing game developed by a famous video game developer, and there was also Hideo Kojima’s new arthouse film with a few minutes of gameplay in between long cutscenes that make you wonder if Hideo Kojima wanted to be a film maker at some point.
Even if some of these sequels are worth playing or good, many are going to suffer from numerous issues only sequels suffer from, mainly being held to the standard of the previous title. If you change too much or change too little, someone is going to be angry about it, especially if it’s a poorly made game. At the same time, games are going to sell because of brand name recognition, and as is proven with some yearly franchises or developers that do the same business model as yearly franchises but space them out, brand names sell. A publisher isn’t going to create a new IP when they could milk an existing one.
This leads us to the biggest issue right now. Game studios are suffering from the same problem as Hollywood is right now: They absolutely have to milk brand names. You see this with sequels that nobody asked for, you see this with HD remakes or “remasters”, and you now see this with the trend that’s been going on since around the end of the Xbox 360 era where the design philosophy for first person shooters in particular (and a few other genres) switched from “how can we improve on this” to “follow the leader”. Halo went down this route with Halo 4 adding in a lot of elements from the Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty has tried to “reinvent itself” numerous times ever since the Xbox One came out with somewhat disastrous results (for the fanbase), and this year Call of Duty and Battlefield are both taking this to the extreme by adding in a Battle Royale mode, a mode that is featured in the popular video games PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite.
Even though those modes aren’t really a fit for these respective franchises, with CoD in particular getting associated with camping snipers, one hit knife kills, and dying instantly from grenade spam or killstreak spam, the publishers want to get in on this new trend without taking the risk of spending money making a game in a genre that becomes overcrowded only to die off when it’s irrelevant, like the MOBA genre, plastic instrument…er…rhythm game genre, or the variety of “survival” genres. They went in on this genre, but instead of taking risks by making games that won’t sell, they shove it down your throats, and the sales then drop. Gee, this pattern sounds an awful lot like another trend…something that has to do with talentless hacks unable to make it in the biz the normal way shitting up established franchises.
But hey, that’s what E3 2018 could be summed up as. Unoriginality and relying too much on brand names, following the leader, and “buy the game bigot”.