Over the last few years E3’s traditionally cacophonous mix of sound and fury has been further escalated by the introduction of the public to areas previously reserved (supposedly) for press and industry types.
Combine this with downtown LA slowly gentrifying and there’s now a diaspora of the games industry spread across this once unloved part of the city. People are taking meetings in the new hotels, restaurants, and in some cases steakhouses of downtown, and in ever greater numbers, in order to show off their games and get their business done in relative quiet.
Last year’s introduction of consumers to E3’s show floor is a mixed blessing. For some, this lets them use one of the most important business events of the year to show off their games to an enthusiastic audience. However, for many, it means you need to navigate yet more bodies to get from one hall to the other.
For the newcomer, that means getting the most out of your E3 visit can be harder than ever before, but that’s okay because we’ve talked to veterans of the industry to find out the best tips for having a successful event, including places to hang out, areas to arrange meetings and things to do while you’re in the City of Angels. If you are a veteran, we’ve pulled together a list of some of the best places to eat, drink and meet in Los Angeles, so abandon that West Hollywood Airbnb and see some of the sights scattered around LA. Just because it’s a work event doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun, right?
“This E3 should be interesting because the means of delivering news and content to players is shifting as quickly as the distribution of games is changing. It’s a very good thing that players are growing more sceptical of corporate PR machines, because it is becoming much more difficult to hide behind a carefully polished message, which is making games better," says Michael Douse, director of publishing at Larian Studios
"As companies grow more openly proud of the games they are creating, players, press, and influencers – these lines growing ever blurrier – are getting almost unprecedented access to the development of them. The modern marketing campaign is becoming more celebratory, which is a lot more fun. There’s a lot more ‘Hey, isn’t this cool!’ and a lot less ‘Hey, do you want to be cool?’. I’m enjoying this slowly fostered empathy between first parties, players, and game creators, and I think this E3 will be emblematic of that. A lot more engagement, and a lot less smoke and mirrors.
"The whole point of games is to bring people joy, and I think that got lost in the hype over the past ten years or so. It sort of feels like we’re all working together to make it better at the moment, and I think it’s working.”
What to expect
This year, expect E3 to be a last hurrah for this generation before new hardware starts to edge into view at next year’s event.
Microsoft, having one of the most impressive consoles on the market with the Xbox One X, will be looking to plant a flag and make an impact after a disappointing year of exclusives on the Xbox platform with Sea of Thieves being left to fly the triple-A flag practically solo, while Sony is pushing ahead with a series of critically and commercially successful releases.
Now’s the time for Microsoft to pull itself together and show what it’s capable of.
Last year, the show floor of E3 struggled to handle the teeming masses of the general public, leading to many developers being worried about the safety of staff and kit. So expect security to tighten up in response to those concerns.
However, there were some substantial queues at the 2017 event already and tighter security will definitely mean more delays.
‘Wish fulfillment’ is the name of the game this year. Several of the biggest titles expected at the show are continuations of fan favourite franchises or long-awaited reveals for games we already know exist, but are tantalisingly out of reach.
CD Projekt’s first full title since The Witcher 3, Cyberpunk 2077, will appear in some capacity, and Bioware will likely shed a little more light on the ambitious Anthem. If sequels are more your bag, widely anticipated sequels will include Beyond Good and Evil 2, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Kingdom Hearts 3.
If you’re the betting type, strongly rumoured titles include a new Splinter Cell, Bethesda announcing a new Switch port and something Fallout flavoured, a better look at Metroid Prime 4 and even a new Halo.
It will be interesting to take a litmus test on VR too. Either we’ll see several companies going big on the tech or we’ll see it slipping away. As the install base gets bigger, the only limit now is how much risk companies are willing to take. Expect VR reveals from a few mid-sized publishers, some of which will be more involved than you might be expecting.
“I think Xbox has to take advantage of E3 this year to show that there is vision for its first-party studios. I expect a new Fable, Gears of War 5, and two totally new games.”
“I expect a relatively low-key E3, with the most exciting stuff being found in the indie space. I’m hardly sticking my neck out to suggest we’ll see a number of battle royale games from bigger publishers, or battle royale add-ons for existing titles. With Sony focusing on four ‘deep dives’, there will be a lot of attention on Microsoft. It needs a couple of big, good-looking exclusives to properly sell Xbox One X as the most powerful console on the market: so far it really hasn’t made the most of that extra horsepower. I don’t expect too many huge surprises beyond that. Everyone seems to be getting wise to the fact that you can’t keep getting away with teasing games that are years off release. As for Nintendo, it’s already said 2019 releases won’t be featured, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get a glimpse of them, just that they won’t be the main focus.”
“In a year when new hardware is unlikely to be announced, when Sony is keeping expectations low, nobody knows what to expect from Microsoft. Nintendo is still riding its momentum, so the stage is set for mid-level publishers like CD Projekt Red, Focus Home Interactive, 505 Games and Deep Silver to steal at least some of their thunder. All we know for sure, however, is that by the end of E3 2018 everyone will be looking forward to the relative calm of Gamescom’s press hall.”
“Nintendo will drop some surprises, Breath of the Wild story DLC, maybe some news on the Switch Pokémon title that got teased last year. Wishful thinking? Perhaps. I’m expecting PlayStation to announce some exciting PSVR titles and I’d very much appreciate a Death Stranding gameplay reveal.”
“I don’t think we’ll see any major hardware reveals this year. With PS4 Pro (and to a lesser extent the Xbox One X) finally feeling like it’s hitting its stride, any news of a replacement now would probably come as a swift kick to the teeth to existing owners. I also don’t think we’re quite at a technological stage to deliver a true generational leap in power, either. Next year, though – that could be an E3 to remember.”
Tips for the show
“Now that doors are open to the public, try to book meetings at the JWMarriot next door. It’s where everyone hangs out anyway.”
“For a show ostensibly about triple-A titans, it’s amazing how many mobile and indie gems you can find in the hotels and bars around E3.”
“Breakfast tacos. Whether you’re hungover or just hungry, there are a number of high quality, low cost, minimum service establishments around the downtown area!”
(Robbie was our taco expert for our Where to Go section, below)
“Get a phone plan (or add-on) to let you use your data abroad, so you can check your emails and calendar abroad. However, your phone is definitely going to be close to death for the entire event, so bring a battery pack or printed copy of your schedule to avoid getting stuck.
Oh, and bring hand sanitiser, you’ll be shaking hands with a lot of people.”
Where to go
What do you get the person who has everything? El Compadre offers breakfast tacos, along with a Flaming Margarita or two, and it’s just across the street from the convention centre.
Fernando’s Taco Inn
On the corner of S Fig & West Olympic Blvd, this is the connoisseur’s choice for a breakfast taco. Open from 8am - 5pm every day of the show, this order-at-the-counter taco outfit is a great reason to duck out of the noise for a lunch break.
The Original Pantry Cafe
Straight up Figueroa from the convention centre, The Original Pantry Cafe literally never closes, its been open since 1924 and doesn’t even have locks on its doors. Yes it’s popular with tourists, but it’s hearty fare is no tourist trap. Take advantage of it all-hours approach to avoid the queues.
This huge sports bar has 80 screens, an all-American menu and huge beers on tap. It’s pretty much everything you might expect from an American sports bar, and it’s just a short walk up Figueroa.
A new mediterranean inspired cafe, this is a great spot on Pico Blvd to drop in to for a late breakfast or even a chilled lunch. Be warned, wait times around lunch can be long because the place is a little on the small side, but the food is worth the wait.
Aladdin’s Coffee Shop
Bizarrely, not a coffee shop but a buffet restaurant, this place is a great chance for those who want to eat Mexican food in bulk. It serves American, Mexican & Salvadoran food, and it keeps weird hours, closing at 2pm each day. The food is all delicious though, and every day there’s a different selection to choose from on the buffet table.