E3 press conferences were once littered with titles that wouldn’t see retailers’ shelves for years. But there looks to be a new sense of immediacy spreading across these events and the industry as a whole – and publishers are keen to point this out to consumers.
Bethesda was a key example. The company announced numerous new games, expansions, VR remakes, mobile titles and more, but despite having a packed press conference, it signed the whole thing off by saying that everything shown was going to be launched during this calendar year. That’s a whole press conference of content coming in just the next six months.
Microsoft was also keen to provide content now rather than later, and a good thing too, after a release schedule that was somewhat lacking last year. We’ve already talked about the line-up elsewhere in these pages, but PRs were keen to emphasise afterwards that everything we saw would be available to buy in the following 12 months.
That means there were no teaser trailers in either conference for games that are well beyond the current financial year, and that seems to be a very healthy move for the industry.
This more immediate approach has numerous advantages. Such publishers don’t want to tease their fans with long waits, or distract them with titles that won’t be available for months. It keeps the focus on the here and now, which is sound business sense. By comparison, PlayStation showed numerous 2018 titles, only one of which – God of War – looks to be releasing before the next E3 rolls around. Of course, promoting distant titles might persuade consumers to buy into a certain platform in expectation, and you also have a huge timescale to build pre-orders.
So there are upsides to the long-haul strategy, and it looks like Nintendo appreciates this, too, with the company mixing more immediate releases with teasers for numerous titles that are still far from release.
We shouldn’t forget either that Sony’s already launched one big first-party title this year in the shape of Horizon Zero Dawn, and with its current hardware lead and deals with Activision on its key titles, it’s not relying on exclusives. That’s not to say it couldn’t have used its press conference to better effect, though, perhaps by promoting content that is closer to making an impact on consumer’s wallets, and Sony’s bottom line.
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