At their core, E3 conferences are meant to be press conferences. They are meant to tell video game magazines, sites, etc. about what is coming. However, the bar has been set higher in the past few years. Now, in addition to being press conferences, they also tend to be quite entertaining shows. There is a reason why Ubisoft brings in comedian and actress Aisha Tyler to host their conference. There is also a reason why Nintendo borrows Robot Chicken clips or actually uses puppets to supplement their conference. Both Nintendo, Ubisoft, and others know that they are not just broadcasting to the press anymore. They are also broadcasting to the general public. With all of this in mind, I would like to briefly discuss the strangest E3 conference this week, Square Enix.
What Was Strange?
I admit to being surprised at seeing Square Enix in the lineup. They are a large company that also encompasses the properties of Eidos. However, Square Enix does not usually have a conference. They tend to rely on EA, Microsoft, or another publisher to show off their games. With this in mind, I started to watch…
1. The very first title they showed did not have a title.
Square Enix showed off a number of upcoming games. However, the first one they showed did not even have a title. We were given a very brief clip that told us next to nothing about it. The clip gave no semblance of what sort of gameplay would be featured or even what the story was going to be about. After the clip, some of the development team popped up on stage but didn’t even bother to give us a name. A working title would have sufficed.
Ordinarily, in a conference like Ubisoft, this would not be an issue. It would just be part of the show. However, the fellow in the mask only introduced himself, said they were working on the game, and did nothing else. This lead me to believe that perhaps this guy did not want to be seen. If that is correct, though, then why did he come in the first place? Did Square Enix make him come? The mask distracted me from a presentation that was already weak with no title.
3. Everything was so formal…
Formality in a typical press conference is not a problem. But this is E3! Microsoft, EA, Sony, Ubisoft, and Nintendo all know that they need to do more than just talk about their products. They need to give us a show. With the exception of very brief previews (I’ll get to that in a minute) and the mask, there was no entertainment or very much to hold the audience’s attention. The developers got up before the crowds and spoke very seriously about their games. Some of them did not even seem very excited about the games that they were making.
4. What we saw was brief and not enough to garner attention.
With any sort of preview or presentation, especially with something that has not even been released, it is important to not tell too much. The Force Unleashed II had a good ten-minute making-of video that was released just before the game released. However, most of that video revealed too much of the plot, spoiling the surprise for the players. This is not the case for the Square Enix conference. They actually had the opposite problem. They showed and talked about too little.
I have already mentioned the game with no name. However, this idea of showing very little was prevalent throughout the conference. The Rise of the Tomb Raider was also presented. Granted, other conferences had already showed the gameplay demo and the preview, but I expected perhaps a behind-the-scenes video. True to my expectations, they did show a video about how much detail was put into the creation of Lara Croft… But that was all they showed off before moving on to their next project. Although finding about all of the detail was interesting, I expected a video about why they chose the myth and setting for Lara’s new adventure or perhaps what they have changed in gameplay. This clip was too brief and did not talk about the components of the game that I wanted to hear about, albeit story and gameplay.
Although Square Enix’s presentation was strange and oftentimes very brief, they had plenty of things to be excited about. Kingdom Hearts III looked to be fairly far along in production, the new Hitman game looked very ambitious and exciting, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided seems to greatly improve on Human Revolution, and then there is that Final Fantasy game, the most renowned in Square Enix’s franchises. Their presentation was not terrible, but it was odd. One would be curious to see if they present again next year.