1. Underwhelming Indie Presence
During Microsoft’s 2015 presentation, a meager nine and a half minutes of stage time were used to show off 18 indie titles that were in development. The majority of the titles were shown for just three seconds, while games like: Tacoma, Ashen, Beyond Eyes, and Cuphead were given 30-second spots. Sony’s conference was even more barren, giving Campo Santos’ Firewatch a two-minute spot and Devolver Digital a minute and a half to show off four new games. Games like Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Fallout 4 were given nearly ten minutes of stage time.
Considering the fact that Bethesda Softworks had a presentation of their own, this much time wasn’t necessary to announce the fact that Xbox One would support mods. Since Infinity Ward already announced Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, hopefully that AAA franchise won’t suck up so much stage time this year. I realize that Sony and Microsoft have to promote their most popular third-party titles, but most of them have a dedicated enough following that they don’t need this much exposure. Give the little guys a chance to really show what they’re working on.
2. Lack of Variety
Looking at a rundown of E3 presentations from last year, it’s obvious that shooters and remastered shooters dominated the time on the stage. Sony used just over a third of their time to talk about upcoming first and third-person shooters, while Microsoft spent nearly 45 minutes—half of their time—to do the same. Shooters are big sellers in the industry, it’s no secret, but genres like horror survival are completely absent from the show (Phantasmal: City of Darkness did receive a 10 second spot during Microsoft’s presentation).
The strategy behind these presentations needs to be rebalanced. While most of us, myself included, truly enjoy our shooter games, we are not stuck in a monogamous relationship with the genre. So no, Sony, we don’t need another 10-minute presentation for Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. And no, Microsoft, we don’t want to see Halo run your show. Give us some fresh ideas to get excited about this year.
3. Remakes bullying fresh franchises
Remakes are becoming a go-to move in reviving old franchises. I don’t like to use buzzwords, but nostalgia is proving to be the easiest way to elicit excitement in gamers. Last year, Microsoft allowed too much time to highlight games like: Gears of War Remastered, Rare Replay, Rainbow 6 Vegas and backward compatible titles. At the end of the show, Phil Spencer plugged Quantum Break and Scalebound. Had they not devoted so much of the show to feature old favorites, they could have shown off these new games. Sony’s only true remake was Final Fantasy VII, which was shown for just a couple of minutes. Still, the Final Fantasy franchise has the ability to gather momentum on its own. Featuring these titles at E3 seems like a waste of precious time that could be better spent getting gamers excited for original titles.
4. Demo blunders
While showing off Uncharted 4 gameplay at E3 last year, the game failed to respond and the demo had to be completely restarted. When the live demo did start, the player behind the controls showed Nathan Drake’s penchant for shooting enemies in the junk.
Previous E3 demos have seen players fail to complete a level without dying, audio malfunctions, controllers disconnecting, and cut scenes that were just unwatchable. I know that sometimes things go wrong—and that’s understandable—but this shouldn’t be the case when a AAA title’s reputation is at stake. No fan wants to see their most anticipated game get torn up in the news because of a minor hiccup during a crucial show.
5. PS 4.5/Xbox One.five
With the launch of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive just behind us, and the launch of PlayStation VR on the horizon, most consumers have already had to deal with the financial burden of purchasing a new platform. The announcement of a PS4.5 is making a lot of gamers worry that Sony and Microsoft will be trying to make a $400 withdrawal every three or four years.
If the PS4.5 is simply a PS4 with updated cards and processor, Sony needs to embrace the fact that they are trying to change the way their gamers look at the console. Instead, Sony should be launching branded sound and video cards with instructions on how to swap the components. If the process is too difficult for the typical gamer, then perhaps a new PS4 with easier access to these components would make more financial sense to the average gamer—because right now, it doesn’t. There is no news of an Xbox One.five just yet, but Microsoft isn’t one to be left in the dust. Hopefully a negative response from the E3 crowd will serve as an admonisher to any thought Microsoft may be dedicating to a slightly better console.