Pencils down! The conferences are complete and the games have been shown. It’s time to award podium spots. Who showed the best games at E3? Who had the best results and generated the most interest? Who said “taking it to the next level” the most?
“Who won E3” may be a completely subjective judgement according to what you’re into, but we’ll try to come up with a few objective things we can look at. While not technically part of E3, for our purposes, it makes sense to include the EA Play event across town. As always, this is completely serious. The Be All and End All. The Alpha and Omega of definitive guides.
We’ve gone through all the announcements. Now let’s apply a few different lenses and see what we come up with.
When it comes to raw eyeballs, Microsoft’s well-placed conference captured both the US and Euro markets to take the top spot. We’ve already talked about how the best items on show were third-party titles. But it had 50 games to show, and put together a killer press conference.
Ubisoft did extremely well to trail Microsoft so closely, and we expected more from Nintendo. EA gets the wooden spoon, but fans probably expected a best-case scenario of seeing more Anthem and Battlefield V, without much new. They were right.
It’s harder to aggregate and parse the view numbers from all the different gaming media channels on YouTube. IGN, for example, included several press conferences in one video. Microsoft’s conference could have brought in another 1-2 million viewers on YouTube.
Bethesda enjoyed a big increase over last year’s numbers, bringing in over triple what it did in 2017. This was likely boosted by its Fallout 76 announcement, with fans expecting another short hype cycle and close release date. Happily, Bethesda delivered. We’ll be playing Fallout 76 on November 14.
Being sat on top of a massive mound of gaming wikis, we here at FANDOM are uniquely situated to see what people are looking for more information on. During E3 week, the most looked at wikis were Devil May Cry, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout.
The obvious caveat here is that for a new IP, there isn’t much info to get brushed up on. When the new Devil May Cry 5 was announced, the franchise wiki and Dante page spiked. Gears of War 5 features Kait as the protagonist, and fans wanted to read up on James Fenix‘s buddy. But there’s no equivalent historical page to look up for Control.
Later on, the Last of Us wiki enjoyed lots of visitors brushing up on Ellie, and Cayde-6 from Destiny 2 had lots of eyeballs as it was unclear if he was murdered in the latest trailer. And of course, the Kingdom Hearts wiki saw lots of friends drop by after the myriad trailers that dropped throughout the week.
Of all of these, Devil May Cry was the most consistent, though Fallout and Elder Scrolls also had high peaks.
So the wikis are all well and good, but what about global search? Which properties won the most Googles?
The biggest spike (seen below in pink) belongs to Fallout 76, while the one below it (brown) belongs to Elder Scrolls VI. Even though the latter was a trailer consisting of just a logo, that means Bethesda easily takes this category of global search interest.
Consistent with the wiki numbers, Devil May Cry and Jump Force take the next biggest jumps in searches. At the bottom of the most searched-for properties is Halo Infinite.
Jump Force may be a new IP, but it’s basically the Avengers of anime. It’s the Smash Bros of shonen. E3 week catapulted Jump Force as one of the highest breakout searches, as people wanted to know more about how the universes of DragonBall Z, One Piece, and Death Note would combine.
With Ninja Theory now an official Microsoft studio, Capcom has gone back to an older Dante in Devil May Cry 5. There were quite a few searches around the acquisition, and fans are probably interested in the franchise’s new direction. Or rather, return to an old direction.
Who Was Bravest?
What of new IPs? What of singleplayer games? What of battles that are not-so-royale? Who dares a late October release in this, the year of our Red Dead Redemption 2?
“No loot boxes” was a mantra this year, while others remained conspicuously silent about loot boxes.
We’ll continue to give Microsoft a hard time for losing this generation of console exclusives, but damned if its ID@Xbox program isn’t paying off in a big way. While its press conference leaned heavily on non-exclusives and the tired triumvirate of Gears, Halo, and Forza, there was a stellar lineup of indies for anyone to play at the ID showcase.
Below and Tunic are new IP indies, and although we’ve been waiting for the former forever, we played it at E3 2018 and it looks great. Otherwise, new Microsoft IPs were limited to Session, a new skating game, and MMORPG Black Desert.
Sea of Solitude was the only original game EA showed – though we’re still penalising it for bastardising Command & Conquer – while Bethesda showed a similar plan to hammer away at its existing IPs. There was a bit more new activity at the Square Enix conference, with The Quiet Man and Babylon’s Fall announced. Both look to have singleplayer, and both are new IPs. Bandai Namco’s Jump Force garnered a lot of interest, and Code Vein continues to impress.
Sony’s main new IP shown was Ghost of Tsushima, and revealed gameplay, though it shied away from talking about what most people were interested in: the combat. Still, the game looks amazing, and we got to see another major new IP in the form of the most un-Googleable name of the show, Control.
Death Stranding also falls into the category of new IPs with the singleplayer we saw. Some will be rightly skeptical of whether we’ll see it anytime soon or not, but even if this is just a UPS simulator, we’re on board. Fight me.
When it comes to the main criteria of being brave, the best showings were actually at the PC Games Show. Of course, these aren’t from the same publishing house, and can’t be considered one entity. But where else can you find a game about being a shark or a 1,000-player battle royale game? As well as a continuous supply of amazing indies like Sabel.
This is an easy one. No one takes the piss out of themselves, and indeed the industry, more than Devolver Digital. The opening of the Devolver press conference was a satirical monologue jam-packed with as much corporate nothing-speak as possible.
Meanwhile, other press conferences were unwitting self-satire. The moments of “pause for applause” in Bethesda’s presser was bordering on becoming meme-worthy until Todd Howard saved the day.
EA mentioned multiple times that gameplay was very important to them — while ignoring gameplay in many key presentations, such as FIFA 19.
Microsoft started many a segment with lines like “We know you love playing our games… but we were sitting around thinking, how could people play them for free?”
Yes, yes. We’re sure that’s the mindset you were coming from.
So fans are one thing, but how did investors react?
Most notable here is Nintendo. While fans seemed to be excited with the roster announced for the new Smash Bros on Switch, its company value turned sharply downward right after its press conference.
Sony and Microsoft’s values were largely the same. Ubisoft’s rose steadily over the week of E3 as positive impressions of AC Odyssey, The Division 2, and Skull and Bones came out.
Square Enix dipped slightly during the week of E3 but recovered, while EA has been steadily rising.
The Best Games
It may seem like the most subjective category, but it’s also the most important. Whoever had the best game is the real “winner” of E3. And there are some very solid, objective things we can point to here.
For starters, we’ve already pointed out that while Microsoft may have had the best press conference, it mostly dazzled us with non-Microsoft games.
As for the first-party titles and exclusives?
Sony’s story was a bit more quality over quantity, and it played trailer after trailer of exclusive Sony games like The Last of Us Part 2, Ghost of Tsushima, Control, Death Stranding, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Nioh 2, and a remake of Resident Evil 2.
One could argue the likes of Death Stranding might be just as far or further out than the next Halo or Gears. But there’s no question Playstation continues to show the more solid exclusive line-up. Microsoft’s main positive takeaway here is the five studio acquisitions it announced, effectively doubling its first-party studios.
In year with a lot of hands-off, behind-closed-doors demos, Ubisoft definitely wins the category of playable titles. Not only did we get a chance to play through chunks of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, The Division 2, and Skull and Bones, we walked away feeling very positive about all of them. It even had the newly announced Starlink: Battle for Atlas playable.
In the category of raw interest, Bethesda’s properties were unbeatable. Maybe there’s something to that shorter hype cycle after all? Feel free to take note, other publishers.
It’s pretty tough to call, folks. On the basis of the above arguments, it’s a toss-up between Ubisoft and Bethesda, probably going Ubisoft’s way on the basis of being playable.
But then we saw this guy. And we realised our first ever Best of E3 award 100% belongs to this guy.
— Jeremy Ray (@TheJunglist) June 14, 2018