The largest trade show of the year has come and gone and with a month’s time to reflect on the major announcements, it is the perfect opportunity to analyze the impact of E3 2018.
Unfortunately, the time and space did very little to elevate the initially damp reactions to the show. Coming off the bombastic year that was 2017, it’s hard not to feel like the games industry is in a holding pattern, waiting for the next huge year of games or the launch of the next generation of consoles, which feels closer on the horizon than it has before. Everything is coming someday, but not anytime soon.
When I reminisce on the specific games, I find myself lacking any sort of excitement because most of the memorable titles won’t arrive until 2019 at the earliest. There are only two major games that still stand out and have 2018 release dates: Insomniac’s Spider-man and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Spider-man had yet another fantastic showing, but after the Game Informer feature in May, I was already 100 percent sold on the game. The fact that Spider-man’s showing was another vertical slice and not anything new was more of a missed opportunity than anything, even if the game still looks phenomenal.
On the other hand, I’ve begun to lose faith in Smash Bros. making its December release date, despite Nintendo’s massive Smash blowout this year. While the recent trend across the industry has been to shorten the window between reveal and release, it feels almost too claustrophobic for a Smash title, which usually takes advantage of a large window to slowly trickle out information. I’m not totally convinced Smash will slip, but I’ve grown more wary of the possibility since June. Outside of these two titles, I can’t think of any other major titles shown for 2018.
Looking beyond this calendar year, Gamepocalypse 2019, AKA February 22, 2019, is getting all the more exciting as we learn more about titles like Anthem, but I do hold serious reservations that a lot of the titles are aimed at a similar audience and someone is going to have to move or suffer the commercial consequences.
The Last of Us Part II has also managed to stick with me simply because of how jaw-dropping it was, but I lack a continued astonishment with Sony’s other first party titles. I was never hooked on Ghosts of Tsushima from the gameplay debut but can see myself coming around on Sucker Punch’s latest, and the more we see of Death Stranding, the less sense it makes and my confidence in the fidelity of Kojima’s title is beginning to wear thin.
Cyberpunk 2077 is perhaps the game to have the strongest lasting impact because of the shroud of mystery over the title. As far as one can tell, CD Projekt Red was the only developer to have a behind-closed-doors demo to the press at E3 this year and from all accounts, it is a stunning game. The buzz around the title combined with the drip feed of second-hand information has kept my excitement for the title elevated over the past month, even though it is clear that we won’t be galavanting around Night City for a while.
Of all the cool games, though, it is hard to ignore the impending nature of game streaming services. With both Microsoft and EA discussing plans for proprietary services, coupled with the rumors that Google may enter gaming on that front, it seems all but certain that streaming will have some meaningful role in the games industry over the next couple of years. It all makes sense, as it benefits both publishers and consumers by cutting out retailers, but as a gamer who has a distinct sense of ownership over his games, the idea of only being able to play what a publisher tells me I can play brings about some serious reservations, but for now we can only wait and see.
Perhaps that can be the major takeaway from E3 2018: wait and see. The expo was by no means lackluster like it had been earlier this decade, but there was also very little to get hyped for. Conventions in gaming aren’t being redefined, but instead refined, which is indicative of quality products in the near future, but difficult to muster fanfare for while we sit patiently.
But that’s just my take! How did you feel about E3 2018? Did any of your original thoughts change over time? Let me know on any of the social media that Memory Card appears on, which is all linked in the description down below. Happy gaming!