… While I was tempted to go down a dark path and choose a clickbaity title, I have seen the light, and here I am, with a decent title.
As some might have noticed, I didn’t do a summary of Nintendo Direct… Many reasons for this, among them: I’m slightly biased therefore I loved every single second of it, plus it’s a tad bit too late.
Instead of concluding my series with another summary of a given conference, I wanted to speak about some of my favourite moments and some I didn’t necessarily enjoy.
Before going to the core of the topic, I would like to share with you a quote from Phil Harrison regarding E3, and how hard it is to nail the exercise and be on point:
You have all these different stakeholders that you have to keep happy. You’ve got your own aspirations as a brand and as a company: you want to do the best job you can for your products. You then have the hardcore fans you invite who are incredibly important and are incredibly welcome, and you want them to be there. But are you only presenting to them or are you presenting to the thousand-or-so industry people in the room? Or are you presenting to the few million people streaming? It’s so hard to thread the needle through all of those.
Ori & the Will of the Wisps:
As mentioned in my Microsoft article, Ori and the Blind Forest had a massive impact on me and seeing the new one being announced makes me utterly happy. I love how Microsoft played their card: they invited Gareth Coker on stage to play the theme. In terms of communication, this is a smart move since Ori is well known for its outstanding soundtrack.
Another prominent moment is Ubisoft’s conference, in its entirety. Its tempo was on point; it started with Miyamoto-san’s entrance (which reminded me Zelda Twilight Princess reveal), followed by an amazing picture with Yves Guillemot, then a series of different (and gutsy) reveals and was concluded with BGE2 and all the attending staff going on stage (I insist on this, no other publisher does that). In retrospective, it is rather hard to determine which was the best moment of the conference, but I’ll go with Mario+Rabbids for many reasons:
- Game is looking good, it’s not just an IP mix & ship
- Game proved wrong 99% of Internet (I wasn’t really believing in it since well, I’m not a Rabbids fan… but now I’m fully convinced and I preordered the CE)
- Miyamoto + Guillemot
- Ubisoft took risks with this game
As mentioned in the introduction, Nintendo Direct was an absolute blast for me. Of course, I could start with the Metroid Prime 4 reveal, but let’s start with Mario Odyssey’s song “One Up Girl” because that’s how awesome it is:
What I like the most about the Nintendo Direct format, in general, and in this specific case, is its conciseness. Straight to the point: trailers, gameplay, announcements. There is none of the grand American staging. By doing this, they give to the fans/press what they want: less talk, more content. In the span of 30 mins, we got: new Pokémon for Switch & Metroid Prime 4 announced (no details, granted, but they exist), Rocket League, ARMS, Splatoon 2, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Kirby 2018, Pokken Tournament DX, Yoshi 2018, FE Warriors Switch, Skyrim of the Wild, Zelda Breath of the Wild DLC, Amiibos, Nintendo VS (esports), Mario x Rabbids, Super Mario Odyssey.
One of the very smart things they have done was to keep some solid content for the Treehouse segment right after the Direct. When the Treehouse started, Bill Trinen tweeted that something cool was about to be revealed within the next 30 mins… and it was Metroid II Remake! That’s a pretty crafty way to ensure that people stay and watch your content. (Side note: he did it again the day after while saying that it wasn’t big, but this time they revealed Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido… Not exactly your mega announcement, but that made me giggle)
Whether you are a Ninty fan or not, you have to give it to them: their way of doing things is much different than the others. I feel that they push the fun side of gaming to the fullest. Unlike others, where you have a very serious atmosphere, dark colours, serious topics: Nintendo focuses on a fun, bright, colourful and diverse portfolio.
God of War:
If I have to remember one thing: God of War. Kratos is back, in all its glory. Sure, Santa Monica Studios decided to go with the 3/4 view (think Batman Arkham series), but that’s not an issue. The game looks gorgeous, the mechanics and level design seem to be on point; all in all, I can’t wait to put my hands on it.
Xbox had a solid showing. If I had to take my favourite moments (aside from Ori), I’d go with Xbox One X, Dragon Ball FighterZ and the backwards compatibility for the OG Xbox.
Xbox One X had lots of rumours floating around it since forever, and it was about time we saw it! The price point is slightly higher than PS4 Pro, but you can hardly blame them given the specs. In terms of design, they managed to make it smaller than the Xbox One S and it looks sleek as hell! Fairly certain some people will buy it for its fancy side and use it as a 4K Blu-ray machine.
Dragon Ball FighterZ was a nice surprise; I didn’t expect it to be at the conference. I knew about its announcement, but no more, no less than that. The game managed to do something that very few other fighting games ever managed to do at E3: be nominated for Game of E3 by many, many outlets! Pretty proud of the work that my ex-colleagues at BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment are doing alongside the talented Arc System Works team. This game will be a tremendous success and will certainly fulfil fans craziest expectations.
Now onto what I consider as my “could have been better” moments:
They tried to play the “cool card” by bringing a mainstream influencer on stage to introduce NFS and it kind of backfired:
While content wise their conference was still solid (Anthem, Star Wars Battlefront II etc.), I feel that they could have delivered much more. The production value of it and the script were lower than what you’d expect from EA: a lot of producers reading the teleprompter like robots, problems in camera switch etc.
PC Gaming Show:
Speaking of script and production value; this show was far from being perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying I would have done better. I highly appreciate what Intel has been doing for the PC/Gaming industry, I’m thankful for Sean “Day” Plott involvment in all things gaming, but I think that this show needs to be rethought to bring more and be more professional.
As much as I’m happy to hear about a new Metroid Prime, and especially a new Pokémon, I would have loved to see gameplay or at least a trailer. My thoughts on this: these kind of announcements without trailers are ok to do, but outside of big industry events.
Xbox One X:
While Xbox conference as pretty solid overall, I disliked only one single thing (aside from The Last Night incident, of course): the Xbox One X introduction took forever and they repeated over and over “most powerful”, “true 4K”, “true UHD”. Although we have to keep in mind that repetition is a solid sales/marketing tool – think “Boots on the ground experience” from Call of Duty/Activision, I feel that it can create some imbalance in your communication and make it one-dimensional.
Here is a tweet perfectly summarising my thoughts:
I went slightly further than Rami: “RIP esports, 1995-2017“. This might sound like a “Pepperidge Farm” meme, but I truly believe that 2017 is a pivotal year for esports’ perception and future. We heard esports in every single conference, associated with dancing, sports, VR… We will see how this will turn out, but I truly believe that we are slowly but surely reaching a bubble burst where a lot of people will be disheartened.
I lied, there’s still something: WHERE’S MAH ADVANCE WARS???
To conclude, I feel that this year was still solid overall, but *slightly* below previous years where we had a lot of craziness in terms of reveals: Horizon Zero Dawn, Shenmue 3, FFVII Remake, God of War, Dark Souls III etc.
Thanks a lot for reading me.
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