E3 2015 may very well have seen the strongest showing by the videogame industry in years.
Big games had tremendous receptions. New technology was widely (and warmly) embraced. And the industry seemed to grow up a little. Here are the five biggest takeaways from this year’s show.
Diversification is taking hold — Last August, the debate about the prominence of women in the industry and the way female characters are portrayed in games began to boil over, with some prominent female industry critics receiving death threats. Many individual developers spoke out and the industry did so as a whole at E3.
Microsoft started its press conference not with Phil Spencer, who oversees the unit, but Bonnie Ross, who runs 343 Industries, which shepherds the “Halo” franchise. And Bethesda’s debut of the action game “Dishonored 2” featured a strong female character — as did EA’s “Mirror’s Edge.”
The higher profile role of female executives and women characters with depth is a welcome addition to the industry.
The videogame/Hollywood connection is strong — There’s no understating the cinematic nature of the biggest games that were on display at the show. Story and camera angles are much more important in upcoming games than they were just a few years ago.
“Star Wars,” meanwhile, had a heavy presence on the show floor, with fans waiting up to five hours to play “Star Wars Battlefront” at EA’s booth, and sprinting to Disney’s “Disney Infinity 3.0” to get a figurine from the game to take home.
The show was heavy on star power as well. Notable attendees included Angela Bassett, Steven Spielberg and Kanye West.
Holiday 2015 is going to be bountiful — The holiday season is an embarrassment of riches for players. In addition to “Battlefront,” “Halo 5: Guardians,” “Call of Duty: Black Ops III,” “Fallout 4” and “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” along with the revivals of “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero,” will hit the shelves.
The possible downside of this many big games? Some might get lost in the blast zone of others. (“Tomb Raider,” for instance, comes out on the same day as “Fallout 4.”)
Virtual Reality is coming (and coming big) — It sometimes seemed like half of the people attending E3 were wearing headsets. Oculus and Sony were both heavily promoting their looming VR devices. Many developers were even showing games on them individually. Ubisoft, for example, had a VR demo tied to its “Rabbids” franchise.
Whether VR will catch on with the general public will likely be tied to the cost of the devices, but developers are certainly showing strong support for the systems, meaning there could be a healthy supply of games when they launch.
RIP: Motion gaming — Remember Kinect, Microsoft’s motion sensing camera, which was initially integrated with the Xbox One? After this year’s E3, it’s hard to be sure Microsoft does. The once touted technology was MIA and went unmentioned at the show. Instead, Microsoft was pushing its HoloLens technology, perhaps hoping that that product will have a little more staying power when it launches.