Best E3 2017 Conference: Microsoft
When it comes to gaming, I am not an ‘industry insider’; my gaming information usually comes from podcasts, and therefore, said information may be skewed by the lens of the speaker. Typically, I could care less: I don’t play most genres of video games, so most gaming information just doesn’t concern me. If I am intrigued about a particular game, I then put in the effort required to assess its purchase and/or play value. (Both are nearly equivalent values for me, since I typically play strategy games, yet find myself with less time in which to do so.)
‘Jessi: since when do you give a fuck about E3?’
Since 2015, when I had identified a select group of ‘content creators’ of whom I could consider their opinions valid. Hell, I actually had a decent time watching E3 2016. (While April 2015, specifically, was a fantastic month for 4X gamers, 2015 was shit for video gaming.) I was looking forward to E3 2017.
A brief detour: most people have terrible memories, such that few remember…shit, most of their lives. Content creators suffer from mechanisms that act to limit memory in two ways: (1) They engage with hundreds or thousands of people on a daily basis. Even I would have difficulty trying to remember which stories or rants I had told to which people were I speaking to a collective 100,000 people on a weekly basis! (2) Everything relatively ‘important’ is recorded for them; not only do content creators maintain a vast collection of their own memories, many of them have a dedicated fanbase who will recall that information for them.
I do not have total recall (neither the psychological state in which one can remember everything s/he’s ever sensed, nor either movie, Schwartzenegger or Farrel), but my memory is exceptional. So I found it strange when, while trying to evaluate 2017’s E3 conferences, the content creators ‘with’ whom I watched said conferences seemed to use a different rubric than they had for 2016’s conferences! Since I am not a gaming industry insider, I adapted the criteria of my content creators’ 2016 assessment of E3 conferences. It is by this rubric that I declare Microsoft to be 2017’s best E3 conference.
Caveat: I did not watch the Nintendo nor PC Gaming conferences (because the content creators who I watch did not commentate them and/or record them to YouTube).
Sony dominated 2016’s E3, in part because its production values were high, its transitions smooth, and its speaking portions confident and short. Microsoft’s presentation satisfied these criteria to the highest degree this year. Their primary speaker (Phil Spencer [??]) spoke confidently, and transitioned from one topic to the next smoothly and with alacrity. Sony’s conference began this way, but Microsoft sustained it for the duration of theirs.
This year, my content creators placed greater emphasis on the emotion behind the presentation. Several noted that Ubisoft’s and EA’s developers spoke with more ‘heart’ when evaluating their respective conferences. Some developers' unabashed tears of joy were noted as particularly meaningful.
Volume and Diversity of Games
Microsoft ‘presented’ 42 games (~a decuria of which were highlighted via montage), spanning big-budget AAA games, indie games, first-person shooters, puzzle platformers, VR games, RPGs, and artistic ‘experiences’. Did any of them interest me particularly? Not really. But the fact that they showed them—showed such a wide variety of games—added value to their conference.
Conversely, the rest of the conferences showed very few games (e.g. Bethesda) or very little diversity of games (e.g. EA’s ‘sport-a-thon’ or Sony’s five first person open world RPGs).
Additionally, Microsoft’s was the only conference to show new hardware. I would give several days of my first-born’s life to learn more about this super-special power management system developed by an X-Box 1-X engineer!
Game Trailers and Gameplay
The most prominent critique of Sony’s 2016 E3 conference was that they showed games back-to-back-to-back in a rapid-fire manner. While some valuation of this criterion is subsumed by ‘Presentation Style’, above, my content creators’ 2016 E3 rubric placed a high emphasis specifically on the rate at which trailers and gameplay were shown, and the celerity of transitions between them. Of the 2017 conferences, Microsoft’s pacing was rapid without detracting from the inherent value of each game.
Some content creators stated that the transitions from one game to the next were ‘too small’—they couldn’t appreciate their thoughts on the games before being forced to move onto the next title. I did not. In fairness: most of the games in Microsoft’s conference did not interest me.
Final Thoughts on 2017 E3
While I consider Microsoft’s conference the most superior of E3 2017, they didn’t show a single game that I actually want to play. But I play a very limited selection of genres, focusing primarily on sci-fi 4X and grand strategy titles. Can’t play those on console.
Although Sony’s conference suffered technical issues for internet viewers, I tried not to consider them in my evaluation.
I did not watch the PC Gaming conference, so I cannot comment on it. But they get an honorable mention for the XCOM 2 expansion.
And I really want to see the tech specs for that XBonX power management system!