The times are changing, and for the first time ever, EA kicked off E3 this year.
Well, technically, EA decided they were too good for E3 and created their own “separate” event called EA Play that just so happened to be at the same time and place as E3. But it’s totally not an E3 conference, okay?
The company has a long history of average to mediocre E3 showings. Any given EA conference is guaranteed to have little to no gameplay footage, about 45 minutes more sports talk (out of a one hour conference) than there should be, and a host of awkward celebrity cameos. So with the company changing things up a bit, and with blockbuster titles like Mass Effect: Andromeda, Titanfall 2, and a host of Star Wars titles on the way, it seemed clear they’ve learned their lesson and 2016 would be the year they learn how to give one hell of a showing, right?
Unfortunately, the EA Play event simply proved that EA still can’t deliver a press conference worth crap.
At least it started out promising enough with an impressive multiplayer gameplay trailer for Titanfall 2. The (already leaked) announcement and trailer for the single-player campaign that followed was fine as well, and I’m excited to play the game when it lands on October 28. It was a strong start, and it delivered a faint glimmer of hope that the rest of the conference would be just as good.
Our hopes were shattered, however, as things went quickly downhill from there, with incessant droning about this year’s Madden game, fresh from whatever algorithm they use to churn those out each year. Only the promise of “Mass Effect coming in 5 minutes!” was enough to keep us awake as the presenter droned on about eSports and tournaments.
But redemption never came. Instead of a gameplay demo or information blowout, we got a vague “behind-the-scenes” video that showed very little. More sports followed…and FIFA has a story mode and something about managers and cue awkward soccer manager cameo and blah. And then the Star Wars “blowout” turned out to be Jade Raymond coming on stage and spending five or so minutes just to say “Yeah, we have Star Wars games coming – another Battlefront retread next year and then Visceral and Respawn are doing something for 2018 or beyond but we’re not going to say any more than that.” And then there was Battlefield 1 to close the conference.
It’s incredibly ironic that a show called EA Play featured absolutely zero gameplay. Sure there was the Titanfall 2 trailer that showed gameplay footage, but would a live demo have hurt anyone? On-stage demos have been a hallmark of E3 conferences since the show’s inception, and EA seems to have abandoned them entirely in recent years in favor of conceptual footage, CGI trailers, and random celebrities awkwardly spouting off nonsense.
The whole conference reeked of wasted potential. EA is one of the largest publishers in the industry, and with their catalog of licenses they could have had a blowout – well, they had a blowout all right, but not the good kind. It was clear that they didn’t have much ready to show – their heavy hitters are still in the pretty distant future and are apparently in no shape for a gameplay demo. In the end, EA’s big “exclusive EA Play event” turned out to be just a bog-standard EA press conference – with a lot of filler and little substance.