Good job E3, you did well this year.
There were lots of big announcements across the conference, from Sony’s cavalcade of games, Xbox’s official plans for an upgraded Xbox One, Fallout 4 and DOOM coming to Vive VR and confirmation from Snoop Dogg that Battlefield 1 can be played while smoking a blunt. While we should all be wary of getting overly excited from the flashy presentations of E3, we can all afford to revel a little in the fun of being pumped up for new video games.
But there was another reason this year’s E3 was special and more exciting and much more satisfying than others in recent memory. A reason that everyone involved in presenting the show should take notice of. That reason being: a vast majority of the game reveals weren’t those bullshit “in development” interview trailers, which are the absolute worst.
You know the videos I’m talking about. The ones where publishers want us to be excited about an upcoming game but it’s so early in development or so far from release they haven’t actually got anything to show, so they instead interview members of the development team along with quick cuts to concept art or the occasional gameplay screenshot. And the developers never say anything interesting or informative, just that they’re excited about the project, it’s something they’re passionate about, a dream come true, yadda yadda yadda.
And that right there is the crux of why “in development” videos are terrible: they’re neither interesting nor informative. Literally the only things we get out of them is the name of the project and who’s making it. And heck, sometimes we don’t even get those details. I mean, look at EA’s Star Wars video from their event on Monday, the sole culprit of this trend (that I’ve encountered) at this year’s E3:
Let’s be honest here, aside from the quickest snippets of concept art or really early footage, that EA Star Wars video was a whole lot of nothing masquerading as something.
These shallow trailers are solely there to capitalise on the name of the project, to get the audience’s imagination sell the game for them rather than actually show evidence of a cool concept, an interesting story cinematic or any actual gameplay. Have you ever seen a video like this for a brand new IP? Of course not, because if you just give the name of a whole new game and nothing else no one will care. As they shouldn’t, because they’ve yet been given a reason to.
I’ve long held the view that E3 should have some kind of rule for its presentations that anything shown there has to be scheduled for release before the next E3 rolls around. That would help avoid the problem of games having year after year of repeated showings, building up so much hype and then it losing it as the audience loses interest.
After seeing how strong this year’s E3 was, I want to add another rule: you can’t present your game unless you are willing to tell us what it is and actually have something from it to show. It can be a cinematic trailer or, even better, a gameplay trailer; just as long as it is shows the game as a fully realised idea, and gives us information for us to be excited about. Because this “we’re making a thing, a thing we won’t even name, but trust us it’s an awesome thing and we’re super excited to be making said thing” crap doesn’t help anyone.
So again, good job E3, let’s make next year a year where there are zero of these trailers.