My E3 Hype Died Quickly This Year

My E3 Hype Died Quickly This Year

I was really excited about this year’s E3. At first. It’s the end of E3 day one, and I’m looking back on all the news the press conferences brought us.

Fallout 4, Fallout Shelter, Dishonored 2, Doom, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Unravel, Tacoma, Hololens, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, The Last Guardian, Horizon, Uncharted 4, Shenmue III, Final Fantasy Fuckin VII — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The future of big-budget gaming is suddenly looking much brighter than it was before. I’m pretty psyched.

Flash forward a couple days. The feeling’s waned into a dim glimmer, a thing that can hardly even cast a shadow. I’m frustrated. Being excited is fun! Why did it go away so fast? I mean, this was the year where all that stuff we wanted to happen finally happened. Games long thought dead like Last Guardian and Shenmue resurfaced as though by necromancy, there was a big uptick in lady protagonists, there were indies on the big stage (or at least, Sony’s big stage), we got an entire conference dedicated to PC gaming, and so on. We can always ask for more, but that’s a pretty damn impressive spread. This year’s show may as well have been called E3 2015: Welp, Here Ya Go.

I wondered if maybe it was a case of “you only want what you can’t have.” Now that I have it, it’s stopped being exciting. But then I realised that, no, that wasn’t it. I thought back over the past few days and that’s when it hit me: this year’s E3, more so than others, was a glimpse into the distant future. Final Fantasy, Dishonored, Last Guardian, Shenmue et al won’t be out until mid-to-late 2016 at the earliest. I imagine we won’t see a couple of those until 2017 or 2018.

But hey, there’s still plenty of cool stuff in the pipeline for this year, right? Even then, though, a lot of it wasn’t playable. Games like Fallout 4, Uncharted 4, and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (aka Deus Ex 4) were eyes-on only, allowing us to glean only so much. I talked to friends at the show, and they agreed: the buzz died quickly this year. We stumbled through the desert and found a giant ice cream cone, but when we unhinged our jaws, snake-like, to ingest it, we realised it was only a mirage. We could look, but we couldn’t touch. Which is not to say there weren’t plenty of cool playable games at the show. The heavy hitters, however, were conspicuously absent.

But something else — something more systemic, intrinsic — was also responsible for killing my vibe. It took a conversation with our own Kirk Hamilton for me to nail down exactly what it was. He and I were discussing the show at the Hotel Figueroa — the entire industry’s evening convergence point of choice, complete with a swimming pool that I am phobically terrified of falling into — but our conversation didn’t stay on topic for long. We quickly shifted not to months or years down the line, but to next week.

A new Tales From The Borderlands episode is coming out! So is Batman: Arkham Knight. We’ll be playing those in mere days. There will be tons to chew on, digest, and talk about (as opposed to pooping about, which is where it sure seemed like that metaphor was going). That’s excitement backed by substance.

It only became more apparent during the first (probably annual) PC Gaming Show, a PC Gamer and AMD-hosted counterpoint to the console heavy conferences that generally rule E3’s lineup. I listened to presenters dispassionately drone on like press releases given flesh and rattle off tech specs like they were The Lord’s Prayer, and I couldn’t help but think, “This isn’t PC gaming.” Not really.

My main beat at Kotaku is Steam. To me, PC gaming is weird games that traditional publishers wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole (which you can upgrade with DLC for only $US3.99), communities doing crazy, brilliant things, people congregating around new and exciting games they had no idea about until they launched, modders making shit that’s bizarre beyond conception, and everything being hilariously broken until, eventually, it stops being broken (hopefully).

It’s tangible. It’s people. It’s the way they interact with games that are already out. It’s busted and even shitty sometimes, but charming despite that. Those things are exciting — properly exciting — every day. Used to be that, yeah, exciting game releases were fewer and further between, but now it never ends. We’ve gone from drip feed to Niagara Falls. Even when there is a dry release week, people are doing all sorts of awesome stuff in games that have already been released. E3, on the other hand, presents me with stuff so far out that all I can do is shove it to the back of my mind, save the feelings for later.

E3 used to be more relevant to the way I learned about and played games, but now it’s just… not. I think it still serves a purpose as an industry lightning rod, as a spectacle for outsiders and insiders alike (and as a giant neon PRE-ORDER EVERYTHING sign, something I’m much less OK with). It’s just not one that’s particularly interesting to me anymore. The glitz and glamour and yarn puppets and (human?) men wearing moon face masks are fun for a bit, but they ultimately reveal themselves to be hollow, verging on empty compared to the video game turducken we’ve got on our table right now. Why rely on ephemeral “hype” when I’ve got all that?

You know what’d be cool? If more E3 games pulled a Fallout Shelter. Announced one minute, released the next. Because despite everything else, I do still enjoy E3’s Christmas-morning-like cavalcade of surprises. But what fun is a new toy if you can’t play with it, especially when you and your friends already have so many others waiting for you back home?


  • I think part of the E3 Hype dying down quickly is the current state of the game industry.

    There has been some fantastic tittles announced, but all of us xbox, playstation, PC, have been hurt by over hyped under developed promises by these companies too many times. I look forward to the games but I am not going to get pumped for them until I see day 1 reviews and player reactions.

    Between bug ridden messes, lackluster content, downgraded graphics, day one DLC and constant delays… No wonder… We have had the enthusiasm beaten out of us. The trailers are great, but after E3 is gone your left with the sad truth that in all likely hood 50% or more of these games wont deliver.

    • The distant future thing is spot on for me. Don’t announce a game that’s not coming out before the next E3. Don’t announce a release date before you certain you can achieve it. Don’t give me pre-rendered CGI videos as reveal trailers, I want to see gameplay. Don’t pull a Ubisoft and announce games a year and a half in advance with a new gameplay trailer every month until then, because by the time release comes around, i’ve seen so much of your game that I don’t feel any excitement anymore.

      Watchdogs was a classic example of this. I went from going nuts over the E3 reveal to not even buying the game by the end; a decision I made before all the disappointment and fabrication about what it truly was came to light.

      In attempting to make sure things happen, these publishers are actually only damaging their chances to take my money.

  • Shenmue is developed by YS-Net, YS-Net has chosen to source funding from other companies as well as from fans via Kickstarter. The game is not fully funded. Sony, like other investors is throwing in an undisclosed amount of money in (possibly to secure exclusivity on PS4). To be clear, it is not a fully budgeted game to the level that Yu Suzuki truly wants to make for the fans. Yu Suzuki mentioned that for the Kickstarter part of his funding campaign, he needs $10 million (from Kickstarter funding) to ensure he can make a totally open world game for Shenmue 3. It’s super annoying that some media information has been twisted to assume some kind of conspiracy that Sony are just using Kickstarter as a pre-order. Also, annoying and false is the assumption that only $2 million is needed and that the remainder is funded exclusively by Sony. Everyone needs to get behind Kickstarter and contribute even as low as US$29 for a digital copy of either PS4 or PC when the game is released. If you’ve never played Shenmue (14 years is a long time since Shenmue 2) – don’t be too worried – I have a good feeling that SEGA will release HD version of the last two games before Shenmue 3 releases. New to Shenmue..? There is a reason why it’s going gangbusters just check out Gamerankings averages are 89.34% for Shenmue (48 critic reviews) and 89.63% for Shenmue 2 (19 critic reviews).

  • The triple a scene has just become a bunch of sequels everyone knew was coming and new ip’s you saw 2 e3’s ago and are getting downgraded each time. Look at microsoft, the biggest news from them was backwards compatibility. Bethesda had an amazing conference and the others should learn from them. Don’t reveal your game 3 years before release running on a supercomputer. Reveal your products close to release. It works for apple. However if they started doing this we wouldn’t get any big reveals for 3 years while they catch up.

  • My hype died down because most of the titles are in the usual “Pre-Christmas Release Flood” in October/November. Anything of “extreme hype” is “sometime in 2016”. Nothing to be hyped about right now at all.

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