The world’s video games press are now back from E3 with jet lag, hangovers and sore fingers.
But what did they think of this year's show? And with so many publishers and platform holders using Twitch and the like to go direct to the consumers, what role did the media really play this year? Did they have to do anything differently? And what pieces of content really set the world on fire?
So we reached out to the editors of some of the UK's top gaming websites to get their thoughts and feelings about this year's LA expo.
Keza MacDonald, editor
How did you find this year’s show?
It was a good one – last year the new consoles were exciting by virtue of just being there, this year everyone had to work a bit harder to impress.
Was it a big week for Kotaku UK in terms of traffic?
Unsurprisingly, yes. We had a 153 per cent increase in traffic on the Tuesday, and about a 100 per cent increase for the rest of ?the week.
How did you go about covering the show?
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the best way to cover E3 is not to go - so Kotaku had a huge team at home across the time zones, and a small contingent actually at the show. It worked well.
What was popular for you?
Two things blew up big: the new Zelda, and the controversy around Assassin’s Creed Unity and its lack of female characters.
For the second year running, Nintendo streamed a video directly to its audience. What are your thoughts on publishers doing this?
If it’s done as well as Nintendo does it, there’s not much to criticise - but I’m wary of publishers deciding that they don’t need the pesky press getting between the ‘message’ and the ‘consumer’ – and gamers will be, too.
Kevin Lin, COO
It’s no secret that Twitch are company on the rise. 12 months ago few of us had heard of the live streaming firm, and now it is broadcasting the world’s biggest video games show – and the firm’s COO Kevin Lin said the firm had a great time.
“E3 is an opportunity for the gaming industry to express how it is thinking about current and future game development,” he explains. “Our biggest traffic spike was on the first day because of the press conferences, so those events were at the top of charts.
“However, we view success in terms of consistently engaging our community, so in that regard we were happy since our E3 channel attracted solid numbers throughout the entire conference, more than quadrupling 2013’s audience.”
This year Nintendo went directly to their fans with content, circumventing the regular system of press conferences. As a streaming platform, Lin is happy that companies are doing this.
“We encourage developers, publishers, media outlets, gamers, to use our platform in the manner they feel they can best connect with their audiences,” he says.
“Since we are entering the age of social video it makes sense that publishers and developers are using us as a direct conduit to gamers.”
OFFICIAL PLAYSTATION MAGAZINE
Matt Pellett, editor
What were your thoughts on the show?
This was my fourth E3 and I can honestly say I enjoyed this year’s show more than any other. I found it a lot calmer than usual on the show floor, which helped keep stress levels low as I dashed between appointments. Sony had another great year and there were some cracking games unveiled and there to be played. Fewer than usual, it’s true, but the quality bar was high.
Did you try anything new to cover the show?
The team took turns to live-Tweet the conferences from the show and back home, and we kept readers up-to-date announcements on our social media feeds throughout the week. E3 is a place where we can gather up content for a number of issues, so we’ve got plenty more coverage based on behind-closed-doors demos and interviews that we’ll be rolling out in coming mags.
OFFICIAL XBOX MAGAZINE
Jon Hicks, editor
According to the editor of Official Xbox Magazine Jon Hicks, it was a much improved year for Microsoft.
“It was good. Microsoft had a very strong conference - Call of Duty is always the perfect E3 blockbuster and Sunset Overdrive was a lovely antidote to Gritty Military Man Shooting.
“It’s also good to see some new exclusive IP like Scalebound and Crackdown, rather than just relying on timed deals.
“The show itself felt a bit quiet, though. The biggest announcements are still a way off and the show floor was mostly 2014 releases, which we’re already quite familiar with.
“This year the team at OXM covered the show with a variety of content – including working the publication’s foreign branches to get the maximum amount of coverage.
“We had our usual news and live blogs running on totalxbox.com, handled by the UK team, with contributions from the three people we had out at the show.
“We’re very nearly the biggest games media brand on Facebook now, on the verge of overtaking IGN.
“We had a more international approach this year, with OXM Australia’s editor Paul Taylor working as part of the team. It’s very easy for more elaborate coverage to be eclipsed by the rush of news during the show itself - we’ve always been able to hang back and take our time with the print magazine coverage, and it’s useful to do the same for online, too.
”I think the industry benefits from having a big event to make a lot of noise about, and the abundance of livestreams means that the players - the ones who really care about what’s being shown - can see in the same detail as those attending. That frees up the media to focus on interviews and other coverage that isn’t based just around the presentations.”
Andy Robinson, editor
“There were fewer, higher quality games this year – but we saw that coming.
There was a sense that perhaps the positive uptake of the new-gen consoles took the industry by surprise, with many companies struggling to get their biggest PS4 and Xbox One games out this side of Christmas.
“E3 is also really good at highlighting where, as an industry, games need to improve, and this year it was character diversity. It was pointed out to me by another journalist that nearly every triple-A game at the show featured the same ‘angry white dude’. Speaking to various publisher executives, I got the impression that the big companies do understand that, creatively, the big franchises need to be more inclusive.
“The CVG team is a well oiled E3 machine, and each year we become more efficient and drive taller graphs. One thing I’ve learned is that we have to become increasingly more selective with our appointments each year, especially as the show reaches out directly to consumers. Video is key too; it’s efficient and what our audience wants.
“The London team did an incredible job of staying on top of the deluge of videos and announcements with collation articles. People want everything in one place so these expectedly proved popular.
“Beyond the numbers, the E3 coverage I enjoyed most was Gavin Murphy’s Developer Chain Interview video, in which he got representatives from Rocksteady, Bungie and Ubisoft to ask each other questions. It was a great idea and our readers loved it.”
“Taking information straight to consumers has been E3’s direction for the last few years and for gamers it’s great to see. It’s simply the future of the show; the gaming public has never felt more engaged with a show before now.”
Alex Simmons, editor-in-chief
How was this year’s event for IGN?
E3 2014 was a record-breaking show. We had more users to the site in a single-week period than in the entire history of IGN. Better still, they consumed more content than ever before, with over 63m videos watched over the course of the week.
That’s just part of the story too. We saw traffic to the UK site dramatically increase year-on-year in the week running up to E3, so the uplift we usually see around the show has been much longer this year.
Did games being announced prior to the show take away from it at all?
After last year’s focus on the new consoles it was refreshing to see a lot of games, although with so many leaks and pre-show announcements I felt it lacked any real wow moments. There are a lot of games coming out next year too, so while there’s plenty to be excited about in the coming months, 2015 promises to be huge.
What did IGN do to cover the show?
We spent a lot of time preparing content in the run-up to the show, so the minute a story broke on the site we’d not only have the announcement, but also the context surrounding it. By the time the show started we’d actually had a lot of the games covered off, so we placed a greater focus on showing those games to our audience through livestreams and video.
Matt Martin, editor
What did you make of E3?
Attendance was lower but we had better access. Publishers have trimmed the fat from their portfolios and have been able to focus on a handful of titles.
How did VG247 perform?
We had one of our strongest E3s of all time. Our team has plenty of experience covering the media briefings and turning around editorial quickly.
Did you try anything different at E3 this year?
We covered all the news as our readers expect of us, but we also drilled down on the 10 biggest games of the show and went big on those. It worked.
What were your thoughts on the publishers going direct to consumers via Twitch, et al?
Twitch was excellent but so was the Battlefield and Destiny beta/alpha access. To give punters the same code as was on the show floor was a brave move. It means when we write about them the audience can relate to the same experience, and that creates more engagement.
Matt Reynolds, gaming editor
“While we had staff in the UK cover the conferences and announcements throughout the week as usual, we held off from posting most of our show floor impressions until the days following E3. That way our own coverage wouldn’t have to fight the tidal wave of news, and would receive better exposure on our home page and social channels when things quietened down.
“Alongside that, we managed to get more coverage lined up from pre-E3 showcases than previous years, meaning we had a handful of announcements ready to go as soon as the show started, allowing me - the only staff member on the ground - to concentrate on other games during the expo.
“These articles performed very well, too. Our in-depth FIFA 15 reveal story - which we had live as EA’s press conference ended - was one of our best performing pieces of the entire show. And as usual, our live blogs and stream embeds for the conferences did great numbers (despite the time difference back home).”
Tim Edwards, editor
One of the weirder points about covering E3 as a PC journalist is that it’s rare for E3 to move any needles. As a smaller outlet our intention was to gather content for the coming weeks that can cut through the bluster of the show. That seems to be working - traffic is up post show.
So: life lessons for next E3.
1. Use the metro to get to the show. It drops off right outside LACC, and costs $1.50 per journey. It is clean, safe and comfortable and you don’t have to put your life in the hands of a suicidal yellow cab driver.
2. Use UberX for all other journeys. It’s half the price of a cab, the drivers are courteous, you don’t have tip anxiety, and they email you a receipt.
3. Tell James Binns/your travel partner you’ll refuse to talk to him on the journey home at least a month in advance.
4. You can’t do work at a press conference. By all means, go if you want to enjoy the show, but pretending you’re going to liveblog from a cramped theatre using overburdened wifi or a creaking 3G connection is laughable.
Nathan Lindberg, VP of sales
What were your thoughts on the event?
Curse was really happy this year with the show. The excitement seemed high with a slew of next-gen games finally coming out from third party publishers. The show seemed very focused on the shift in platforms and about new technology – Steam boxes and virtual reality headsets – all of which create exciting opportunities for Curse.
Did Curse use its network of websites at all to cover E3?
This year, in addition to our usual coverage team of writers and video team members, Curse had two new exciting additions. The first was our E3 Wiki on Gamepedia, our solution to coverage. By leveraging our content along with other great content provided by our community, we had one of the strongest E3 content offerings on the web, published on e3.gamepedia.com.
Also, our big investment was in our booth on the show floor. This booth contained exclusive partnerships with SoE, Carbine Studios/NCSoft and Goat Simulator who had exclusive titles in our booth for fans to enjoy. Like our websites we made an open venue for users, fans, industry peers and clients to come and enjoy.
Are you worried companies going directly to consumers will affect Curse’s coverage?
We’re a big fan of discussions directly with consumers, Curse was ecstatic to have two of its Super Smash Brothers eSports athletes competing on a global stage hosted by Nintendo.
But it is hard for non-major publishers to work directly with consumers and we will continue to put together opportunities like we did with our booth this year to bring fans and publishers together for more honest and open gaming experiences.