Who Won E3 2015?

Who won E3? It’s a subjective question we ask every year. Most years, it is often unclear who won E3, often depending on which console you own. Some years, it has been clear who won E3, like with Sony’s ingenious comeback in 2013 when Microsoft announced an always online console with DRM measures. We like to choose winners, it’s human nature to be competitive. However, this year, I don’t think any of the publishers or first parties won E3. No, the winner of the expo this year is the gamer. Wait, not just the gamer, but all gamers. No matter which console you affiliate with, which first party games you prefer, or which publisher you lean towards, there is something for everyone this E3.

E3 2015 was all about the games. Every press conference, from Bethesda on Sunday night, until Square Enix on Tuesday morning, featured trailers and gameplay for games in all stages of production. There was a lot more show than tell during the press conferences, and the games benefit because of it. From the extensive gameplay footage of Fallout 4, to short gameplay reveals of Gears 4 and The Last Guardian, and a CGI trailer for the long requested Final Fantasy VII remake, the press conferences featured a tonne of gameplay. Publishers are finally realising that gamers don’t want to be told about games, they want to be shown games. It seems the first parties have finally stopped openly fighting against each other and embracing why fans love their consoles.

Whether you agree with what Nintendo is doing or not, they chose to focus on games closer to release rather than making announcements about what’s to come in the future. Almost all of the titles they showed will be released this year, with exceptions being Mario & Luigi Paper JamMetroid Prime: Federation Force and Fire Emblem Fates. Regardless of your views towards Nintendo and their reliance on the same few core franchises, there are a lot of games heading to the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS this holiday season. Star Fox ZeroXenoblade Chronicles X and Super Mario Maker will keep Wii U owners entertained for a while until new games are announced, and perhaps a Zelda Wii U release date. Meanwhile, 3DS owners can look forward to new a new Animal Crossing, Yoshi’s Woolly World and The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes. There was also new Smash Bros. content released this week for Wii U and 3DS. Nintendo has not had a press conference at E3 for a couple of years now, so they may make other announcements through Nintendo Direct videos later this year.

Microsoft had a strong showing this year choosing to bombard viewers with gameplay demo after gameplay demo, with a few trailers thrown in to keep the conference from reaching the two hour mark. Microsoft chose to focus on Halo 5: Guardians to start the show, premiering the first campaign footage and a new 12v12 multiplayer mode called Warzone. Several trailers were shown off for ID@Xbox games in production including TacomaAshenBeyond Eyes and Cuphead. It also announced a new Game Preview program similar to Steam Early Access with Elite Dangerous and The Long Dark available now, while DayZ will be coming soon; all Game Preview titles must have a free trial. Away from the games, Microsoft announced Xbox One backwards compatibility with select Xbox 360 titles starting this Fall, and a new extremely customisable controller. Microsoft also had its other first party games on show with a trailer for Forza Motorsport 6, first gameplay for Gears 4, and a gameplay trailer for Rare’s new game Sea of Thieves (it’s not Banjo, but it does have pirates). Surprisingly, the Hololens demonstration with Minecraft was quite fascinating, especially with the technology they used to show it off to the audience. Finally, with the impending launch of Windows 10, Microsoft announced that published titles are going to begin seeing cross platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, as well as more Xbox titles being made available on PC – Killer InstinctFable Legends and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition are the first batch.

For PlayStation fans, I assume it’s the press conference they’ve been waiting for. Sony finally showed gameplay for The Last Guardian and a Final Fantasy VII remake was announced. Sony also continued with its third party partnerships, with exclusive missions in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, and Batman: Arkham Knight which releases next week. In a big step for PlayStation, Call of Duty: Black Ops III gameplay premiered at the conference, with downloadable content coming first to PlayStation. Sony’s conference appeared to be about looking towards 2016 and beyond, with announcements of new IPs from Killzone developer Guerrilla Games, and Little Big Planet developer Media Molecule. Sony has had strong showings from first party games in the last few years with big guns like The Last of Us (2013)Infamous Second Son (2014) and Bloodborne (2015). However, the second half of 2015 will see Uncharted: The Nathan Drake CollectionGod of War III RemasteredTearaway Unfolded and the Heavy RainBeyond: Two Souls bundle keeping PlayStation 4 gamers busy before, hopefully, a first party filled 2016 – I hear some small project called Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is gaining some attention.

And yet, who needs first party titles when publishers like Bethesda Softworks, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft have some great looking titles set for late 2015 and early 2016. Bethesda has the much anticipated Fallout 4 set for a November 10 launch, and DOOM is looking at a 2016 release, with perhaps Dishonored 2 joining it. Electronic Arts will launch its Need for Speed reboot in the Fall, and Star Wars: Battlefront on November 19; Mirror’s Edge Catalyst is set for a February 23, 2016 release. Ubisoft’s big titles for this year are Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Meanwhile, there will also be a new yearly entry in the fan favourite dance series Just Dance. For 2016, Ubisoft has The Division on its schedule, with unspecified release dates for Ghost Recon: WildlandsSouth Park: The Fractured But Whole, Anno 2250 and new IP For Honor. But wait, there’s more from other publishers too. Square Enix has Just Cause 3Kingdom Hearts IIIDeus Ex: Mankind Divided, and a new Hitman on the horizon. As usual, there are also EA’s extremely popular sports games. 2K Games has NBA2K16 on the way, as well as XCOM 2 and MOBA-style action game Battleborn (Gearbox Software). Oh, and let’s not forget the return of rhythm game behemoths Guitar Hero and Rockband making returns this year. If that’s not enough for you, there are plenty of independent developers creating games to fill the void of genres triple-A titles won’t touch.

As you can see, gamers definitely won E3. It’s a great time to be a lover of video games. No matter what platform you play on, there are plenty of exciting titles on the way. The first party publishers, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, have stopped visibly fighting against each other and have shifted their focus to their own player bases and what they expect. Of course, PC gamers don’t miss out either with loads of exclusive games not available on console like an expansion for Guild Wars 2, and a Total War/Warhammer cross over that is somehow not called Total Warhammer. Regardless of which brand you lean strongly towards, there is something for everyone this year at E3, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This year at E3, everyone is a winner, and it feels great.