E3, the video game industry’s massive annual conference, wraps up today. During the show, companies including Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo get the chance to impress and excite their fans with soon-to-be-released products. It’s a competition for hype and loyalty.
A number of journalists already seem fed up with the yearly pilgrimage to Los Angeles. Wired’s Julie Muncy summed it up: “E3 is increasingly irrelevant in an age of downloadable games and subscription models. The games industry itself is the only entity keeping score based on which company can make the boldest, most exciting proclamations.”
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For those of us at home though, E3 can be a select-your-own spectacle, with oodles of juicy game trailers (God of War! Super Mario Odyssey! Metroid Prime 4!) hitting the internet. Consumers like to be teased, even if they end up disappointed.
Here are some illuminating moments from this year’s E3 — and what all types of companies can learn from them.
While untrained influencers may not excel at live events, professional actors certainly can. Electronic Arts also booked Janina Gavankar, who plays the lead character in the upcoming game Star Wars Battlefront 2. Viewers praised her epic entrance, in which she emerged from a group of marching Stormtroopers. Her stage presence was stylish, down to the dress she wore. The garment proved such a hit that Gavankar convinced its designer to sell it to the public.
I went to @elhofferdesign to design my Iden dress for today & I just convinced her to let people preorder it!! https://t.co/bfi7JAIZta pic.twitter.com/fP1oYoxVjL
— janina gavankar (@Janina) June 11, 2017
While Elhoffer Design might be the biggest winner here, Electronic Arts deserves props for hiring a spokesperson who was able to make such a grand impression.
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Sony had its own fumble during the show. When you play games online, you are usually restricted to playing with others on only the platform you’re currently using. So if you’re on Xbox, you’ll play with other Xbox gamers. Companies are now making strides to eliminate these restrictions, with both Minecraft and Rocket League allowing cross-platform play. That will unify gamers on Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC and Mac. But not those on Sony Playstation.
Jim Ryan, head of global sales and marketing for PlayStation, attempted to explain Sony’s position to Eurogamer. “We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe.” But this excuse goes out the window when you consider that Nintendo, which prioritizes families and children, allows cross-platform play.
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This gave Microsoft’s Xbox head Phil Spencer an opportunity to bash the competition. “The fact that somebody would kind of make an assertion that somehow we’re not keeping Minecraft players safe, I found — not only from a Microsoft perspective, but from a game industry perspective — like, I don’t know why that has to become the dialogue. Like, that doesn’t seem healthy for anyone,” he said during an interview with Giant Bomb.
What do you do if you’re not a titan such as EA, Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo? Get crazy. That’s what Devolver Digital did during its E3 press conference, which didn’t generate much attention for the products shown, but more for theatrics. The 15-minute presentation opened with an executive firing a fake gun in the air, and things just got crazier from there. This resulted in positive news stories in gaming media.