Ranking the Conferences - E3 2017

This is not a “Who won E3?” post/video. Every company had certain objectives and messaging that they wanted to drive home in their conferences and those will always resonate differently with different people.

This is instead my personal ranking of the major conferences (sans PC Gamer just because I don’t follow the PC landscape enough to really weigh in on it). This takes into account my personal thoughts on the games shown, variety, and presentation.

Apart from a few brief shining moments when Janina Gavankar came out to show off a little bit of Star Wars Battlefront II, EA was largely a dud for me. Their sports franchises do nothing for me and Battlefield 1’s extra content is unlikely to draw me back into the game. And the few great minutes with Janina were then followed up with an overly long multiplayer match that did nothing to excite me. I’m excited about the Battlefront single-player campaign and that’s about it. 

6. Devolver Digital

Based purely on the style and audacity of their parody show. I couldn’t tell you either of the game’s they showcased, but the hyper-satirical take on the extravagant ritual that is the E3 press conference had me cracking up throughout. Kudos to the team that came up with it. Now if only, I’d actually found out that they had their independent offsite show across the street from the convention center before the show closed on Thursday...d’oh!

5. Microsoft

I don’t know what Microsoft would have needed to do to sell me on the Scorpio/Xbox One X but this wasn’t it. They managed to undercut my expected $599 price point but the fact that their launching another $499 console just four years after their last one failed to capture the market share doesn’t bode well to the analyst in me. There were a handful of games showcased but enough of them will be playable just fine on my normal Xbox One or multi-platform that I see no reason to invest in another system here. Cuphead, Tacoma, Crackdown, and eventually the Ori sequel are the games I’m interested in here but pretty much everything else fell a bit flat for me.

4. Nintendo

Nintendo is fittingly my middle of the road conference this year. Super Mario Odyssey, Mario + Rabbids, and Skyrim are pretty much the only three titles I’m really interested in on the Switch the rest of the year so everything else was just filler. I’ve never played a Metroid game so I don’t have a deep love for the Metroid Prime series and that announcement fell on deaf ears. And a Switch Pokemon game was inevitable so the fact that they only game on the stream to say that it is in development was underwhelming. It suggests to me that Nintendo/The Pokemon Company really weren’t sure how the system would be received. If there had been some confidence in it, I think we’d see more resources put into developing for it to get it out in the first year.

3. Sony

The only real reason Sony places as highly as it does on the list is because of all the conferences, it has the most games I’m looking forward to with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, God of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, the Horizon DLC, and Detroit: Become Human (hell if you throw in the pre-show you can add Ni No Kuni 2 and Undertale to that list).

But overall, Sony has shown us in the past few years that they are willing to show stuff years out to start the excitement rolling and I’ve grown weary of it. I wanted a better sense of when I’d be playing these games instead of trailers or gameplay with nebulous dates. Or if not that, then something new that could at least break through that barrier with an exciting announcement regardless of when it comes out. Yet another take on Shadow of the Colossus is not that thing for me.

2. Ubisoft

Ubisoft surprised me. I was expecting standard Ubisoft where they’d show a game, talk about it, and show a bit more. And they definitely did that. But their conference also had a lot of heart to it. One of the defining images I will remember when I look back on this year’s E3 will be that of the Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Creative Director Davide Soliani in tears of pride as Shigeru Miyamoto praised him and his game. Additionally, the tears that welled up as Michel Ansel finally got to talk about Beyond Good and Evil 2 after fifteen years. And Ubisoft managed to take a game that I had completely written off with Mario + Rabbids and actually convince me in a matter of minutes that it might be something I’d be interested in playing. That’s a pretty solid feat in a press conference. 

1. Bethesda

Putting aside that Bethesda will now always be my first E3 conference (and the Bethesdaland theme park they setup in the middle of Downtown LA was an extravagant night of fun, food, and drink), Bethesda gave me exactly what I wanted from an E3 presentation: a focus on games you can play by the year’s end. It didn’t bother me that the conference was short (Nintendo’s was shorter and people didn’t complain about that). I won’t even play most of their slate. But Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus has me excited to jump back into that universe (and I’m stoked I get to do it sooner than later), I really admire Bethesda’s commitment to VR with Doom and Fallout 4 (and as shown in the PlayStation conference Skyrim), and though I originally scoffed at the hype surrounding Skyrim coming to the Switch, the prospect of having it on the go for conventions and stuff (now with Link’s Master Sword) has me excited.

Bethesda’s conference was my favorite of E3 2017.