E3 2017 in (PR) numbers

After giving my thoughts about each of the conferences and picking up my favourite moments, I wanted to share with you some numbers/insights. Most of the content you’ll read comes from this awesome blog post by ICO Partners. Side note, if you aren’t already following Thomas Bidaux on Twitter, please do it – he gives a lot of insights about PR Intelligence, Crowdfunding and the Indie scene.

Before we dive in numbers, please keep the following three statements in mind:

  • I am not fond of the “who won E3” concept in general as it creates some kind of unhealthy discussions.
  • Getting a lot of coverage doesn’t necessarily transform into sales or better KPIs, but it certainly helps.
  • Getting a lot of coverage isn’t always a good thing (“Would you prefer 20 positive articles or 500 negative?).



While PlayStation sees a variable performance YtoY since 2014, Xbox has been steadily growing and shifted ahead of PlayStation in terms of articles for the first time. As Thomas rightly points out in his article, PlayStation is slowly, but surely, making its PlayStation Experience their main press event. As I wrote in my article regarding EA’s E3 Conference, publishers have a lot to win if they move and own their event. Regarding PSX specifically, its timing is good for several reasons:

  • Christmas period, to remind people that they have games in shelves
  • 4 months before the end of the Fiscal Year: help push the games coming in that period with a massive exposure

Aside from the usual impressive output those two have, I would like to focus on Nintendo: they have doubled the number of articles they get. Of course, the Switch is a major factor in this success, but the quality and content of their Nintendo Direct were impressive – as described here, in the span of 30 mins they managed to pull it off.




Below, you’ll find a breakdown.  Here are some important points to keep in mind when reading the graphs:

  • Yes, you read that right: PS Vita! Fairly sure it is due to Undertale coming on it
  • Switch got more coverage than the newly revealed Xbox One X (admitted: it was teased/leaked for months, but still)
  • 3DS still going strong (Pokémon USUM wasn’t shown)
  • When speaking about reach (please read the footer to understand the methodology), the Xbox brand is much stronger and it manages to get coverage on bigger websites. Some reasons that could explain this:
    • Xbox is an American brand + E3 is in the US
    • Xbox revealed a new console
    • Some of the biggest mainstream websites are American
    • There are lots of small Nintendo oriented websites
    • Strong performance by MSFT as they found the right balance 




ICO Partners also compared VR numbers, some thoughts from my side:

  • PSVR still ahead
    • mostly because they were slightly featured in the conference
    • PSVR is the “closest” device to the mainstream area (So near, yet so far”)
  • Massive decline compared to last year
  • Devices have a hard time selling




To put things in perspective, please find below the 2016 and 2017 graphs:





  • Top 3 2017
    1. Assassin’s Creed: Origins (Ubisoft) with 2450 articles
    2. Anthem (EA) with 2300 articles
    3. Star Wars Battlefront 2 (EA) with 2250 articles
  • Top 3 2016:
    1. Battlefield 1 (EA) with 2600 articles
    2. Titanfall 2 (EA) with 2400 articles
    3. Zelda: Breath of the Wild with 2350 articles:
  • Just like last year, EA manages to have 2 games in the top 3
  • Unlike 2016, only 3 games managed to go above the 2000 mark
  • AC: Origins is first for many reasons:
    • The game looks gorgeous
    • There was an AC hiatus following the problems on Unity/Syndicate
    • Heavily featured in two conferences (Ubi & Xbox)
    • Game playable at E3
    • Different game editions announced/available for preorder – so that adds another type of articles.
  • As Thomas mentions: “Skyrim is marked with an asterisk because it featured in a few different capacities: the Switch Port during the Nintendo conference, the PSVR port during the Sony conference, as well as the fact that the next expansion for Elder Scrolls Legends is featuring Skyrim. This means it’s more difficult than usual to point to this as a game singularly featured.”
  • It’s interesting to see that BGE2 got less coverage than Wolfenstein – TNC. I would have thought the opposite.


Having a conference vs not having a conference


The three leading publishers in the graph above all did a conference. They aren’t leading simply because of that; as mentioned in my previous article, when doing a conference, you need the right content, right tone etc. Doing a conference when you have no content won’t yield positive results, except if you are Devolver.


Ubisoft case:


Ubisoft did a stellar job this year.  You have to hand it over to them: they take risks, they are innovating and bringing new IPs to the market. This strategy pays off in terms of coverage, but also in terms of sales: according to the NPD Group, the two best-selling games of the year in the US, so far, are from Ubisoft, and one is a new IP.


Cuphead case:


From the article: “After its 4th year being featured at E3, Cuphead is finally going to be released. This illustrates quite nicely how much having a release date helps you coverage-wise. At this point, the game has been covered a lot over the years. The fatigue shows through the numbers at E3 2016, so the 2017 numbers overall indicate a very good performance for a game of that profile“.

This game will be tough to sell on Xbox One due to its nature: a platformer + a hard game. Regarding the reviews, it will massively depend on the “platforming” aspect of it: when I tried it 2 years ago, I had the impression that the game was some sort of permanent “Boss Rush” mode



As I mentioned in the introduction, I don’t like the concept of “Who won E3“, because it’s unhealthy, but also pretty hard to decide without all the data: social media growth, engagement/reach, game/console sales, in-game KPIs, stock fluctuation etc.  However, on my last article, I listed out my favourite moments of E3, and two of them stood out: Nintendo Direct and Ubisoft conference. The data above seem to go in that sense.

Both the companies are facing huge challenges, Ubisoft with Vivendi, and Nintendo to reclaim their throne after a massively disappointing Wii U. As Thomas Bidaux from ICO Partners puts it: “And I want to think that the two companies’ partnership also played a big role, and is probably not a coincidence considering the position they both have at present in the industry, and their respective challenges.”


Thanks for reading!




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