E3 2017 Conference Hype: EA
Ben Sheene / Jun 9th, 2017 No Comments
EA has spent the last few years dropping the proverbial E3 ball. Press conference after press conference, the massive publisher managed to undercut its treasured franchises and upcoming games with lackluster reveals and unnecessary “behind the scenes” fluff. Even its biggest groan-inducing moments are difficult to mine for that delicious E3 awkwardness and cheese.
Maybe there’s a chance, though. Maybe E3 2017 will show an EA that has learned some lessons. By capitalizing on a few things, the company could break the streak and construct a memorable conference. If anything, at least we won’t have to see the same Battlefield 1 trailer multiple times in an hour.
No (Moore) Celebrities
As much as I love EA CEO Andrew Wilson’s smooth Australian accent, it isn’t a replacement for the charisma of Peter Moore. For years, Moore took the stage at Microsoft and EA to hype up games and be more than just a corporate suit doling out sales figures to an audience that could care less. His absence will be missed, but also leaves a rather large gap to fill by another EA employee.
What EA must refrain from doing is dragging out its usual parade of celebrities to “hype and promote” games. Introducing an unenthusiastic big name to flatly feign excitement about a game they’ve only just heard about minutes ago is a nearly bygone tactic used by publishers for over a decade. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have practically eliminated the tactic. EA and Ubisoft are stubbornly attached to it.
From Aaron Paul to Drake, these celebrities might be cool to see in person for a fleeting moment but they drive press conference momentum into the ground. One of the few acting jobs these celebrities fail at is the one where they pretend to love games. They’re cashing a check; nothing more, nothing less.
Last year, when EA decided to break away from the main E3 showboating, we were told it was a way to reach the fans and the community directly. It may have also been a way to save some money.
After a half hour of sports games and disappointing Star Wars and Mass Effect teases, EA gave the people Battlefield 1 in the form of the same trailer twice. Then came the multiplayer demo featuring the likes of Snoop Dogg, Jamie Fox and Zac Efron. How much money did EA spend on them?
After the initial laughter wore off, it was hard not for my eyes to roll to the back of my head. Rather than highlighting one of the premier games in its 2016 lineup during the actual showcase, it was delegated to a post-show multiplayer jamboree. But what do I know? Maybe Zac Efron’s hardcore fanbase really wanted to shoot people in World War 1 and it helped sell enough copies to justify however many zeros were on that paycheck.
Mass Effect: Andromeda didn’t release to the glowing reception Bioware or EA expected. Riddled with technical flaws and some of the worst reviews the franchise has seen, Andromeda was a major title for EA and it deserved better. Now the series is going to be on the backburner for an indefinite amount of time. Maybe you should have given Bioware more time? Maybe you shouldn’t have waited a few months before release to show actual gameplay?
E3 2017 needs to be EA’s shot at injecting a confidence boost into its audience. You just know that there is some sort of single-player DLC in the works for Andromeda. What better way to say sorry for those clunky faces than offering that DLC for free. That would be a totally un-EA move and is an easy way to get some cheers from the audience and fans. Those kinds of announcements are the things that make a press conference memorable. Start the show like this and it will prepare us for more amazing announcements in the hour to come.
EA needs to do something to show that it actually has its finger on the E3 pulse. Sony did more to excite and reach out to the community with its 2016 conference than EA did in its days-long EA Play celebration. Unless the company really doesn’t have anything to show, there’s no excuse.
Star Wars Blowout, Not Tease
Unravel and Mirror’s Edge were highlights of EA’s 2015 conference (I know, you’re shocked it wasn’t the Minions mobile game, right?). But all anyone really wanted that afternoon was to see Star Wars: Battlefront for the first time. Boy, did that gameplay premiere not disappoint. It managed to overshadow a decent conference that still had a lot of problems (sorry, Pelé).
Last year should have been an opportunity to further capitalize on Star Wars. Everyone knew another Battlefront was coming in addition to Amy Hennig’s game and Stig Asmussen’s game. All we wanted was a taste, just a sweet taste. Instead, we got Jade Raymond constantly repeating “Star Wars games” while telling us that multiple teams had a lot of stuff to show. We got to see people sitting at their desks, doing stuff on their computers, and talking about how cool Star Wars was. Then came the blink-of-an-eye-maybe-gameplay moment of Hennig’s game. It was a bitter taste.
Unless everyone at EA spends all day sitting on their hands, these games should be far enough along to show actual gameplay. I’d bet my life that the conference will close with Battlefront 2 gameplay because we know it’s coming. But don’t do a countdown EA. Last year you kept lying when you said Star Wars would show up in five minutes 10 minutes ago. No one wants empty updates without substance.
Want to blow everyone out of the water? Show Battlefront 2 halfway through the show, leave people wondering why it isn’t the closer, and then drop an actual teaser for Hennig’s game and blow minds. Star Wars: 1313 anyone?
Banish Behind the Scenes
It’s over, EA. Time to move onto the next gimmick. A few years ago it was mildly charming to see how your developers were tinkering with next-gen technology. The PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were still new enough, it made sense that the coolest games were still a ways out. However, it became less charming when it was readily apparent that there wasn’t much to actually show.
People tune into these conferences to froth at the mouth for things to come. Gameplay and release dates are the greatest ways to do that, and trailers to a lesser degree. You know what doesn’t really work? Conceptual, nebulous ideas on a developer’s computer screen in a trailer. It’s basically a step up from EA handing out pieces of paper with concept art on it.
Behind the scenes looks are for GDC or a blog post or just about anything that isn’t an E3 conference that millions will see. I’m happy that developers are excited to share some progress but it sucks the life out of a conference as much as Snoop Dogg sucks the smoke out of a blunt after shooting down a zeppelin in Battlefield 1.
From Command and Conquer, Sims games, Army of Two, Wing Commander and countless more, there are several classic franchises that EA has left in the dust. Sure, it would be great to see these show up in some form along with whatever new game Bioware is working on. Yet, there is one game announcement I would trade for any other: Dead Space 4.
As one of my favorite last-gen series, Dead Space filled the gaping horror genre hole that Resident Evil had left behind. At the time, there were so few games that were actually tense and terrifying, and even fewer were set in space. Dead Space 2 upped the ante, and while it may not be as beloved as the first, I found it to be just as enjoyable, if not better.
Dead Space 3 was an unfortunate victim of early microtransaction greed and forced online implementation (not counting Dead Space 2’s multiplayer mode). Without enough time to gestate after Dead Space 2, the third entry fell short in sales and left a bad taste in the mouths of some fans.
That was four years ago. A lot has changed in the industry since then. We’ve moved on to new consoles, virtual reality exists, P.T. changed the concept of how we can perceive horror games, and Resident Evil 7 brought the series back to its roots. The time is ripe for another Dead Space.
EA needs to quit sitting on beloved franchises. Whether the fourth mainline Dead Space is a reboot or a direct sequel doesn’t matter. The horror genre has been given a new lease on life and Dead Space would be an incredible way for EA to add some variety to their lineup. Yes, I know Star Wars and Titanfall are sci-fi, but among all the sports and dragons and shooting, there is room for a horror game. I know Visceral is busy with Star Wars, so I think it’s time to hand the reigns over to a new team with a fresh vision.
EA, make it happen and it will be one of the highlights of E3 2017.
tags: e3 , E3 2017 , ea , Electronic Arts , Electronic Entertainment Expo , opinion