Who Won E3 2015?

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The age old question asked every year: who won E3? Debated time and time again, it is really a marker of momentum. Who has the greatest momentum as we go into fall, which is typically when the biggest games get released? The fanboys/girls will do as they usually do and defend their console maker of choice to the end. I hope to answer this question with an unbiased approach and determine who had the best showing at E3 and who – between Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo – is best positioned for the next year.

Sony had the most surprises at this E3. Few saw the trifecta of The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Shenmue 3 happening.

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Despite these massive announcements, Sony has some issues. The biggest problem facing Sony is their lack of games releasing in the next year, particularly this fall. The only AAA exclusive game releasing this year on the PS4 is Persona 5, and that wasn’t even shown at E3 so unfortunately it can’t factor in to who won E3. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End is the only major exclusive shown at E3 coming out relatively soon, and that isn’t even releasing until next March. No Man’s Sky is announced to come out this fall for PS4 and PC, but until that game has a hard release date I think it is all too likely that it will get delayed until 2016.

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They did unveil a truly intriguing new IP with a female protagonist – Horizon: Zero Dawn. I have high hopes for that game. Sony has big things coming, eventually. Unfortunately, there is not a ton to be excited about in the short term.

Nintendo is in a weird place this year. They have a new system announced, the NX, but haven’t said anything other than that it exists. The Wii U is the biggest game console failure since the Sega Dreamcast, which almost ruined Sega and caused them to withdraw from making home consoles. The 3DS on the other hand is a huge success (though not as big as the original DS). So with this in mind Nintendo had a good E3 showing, or perhaps as good as they could have had. Their biggest success was the amount of new games announced that are coming this fall. Super Mario Maker, Star Fox Zero, Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival, Yoshi’s Wooly World, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash are all exclusives to the Wii U and all coming out this year.

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Nintendo’s (perhaps fatal) issue is that the only game announced coming out for the Wii U after this year is The Legend of Zelda. If you own a Wii U already then there are some great games coming, but it’s gotten to the point where it’s hard to recommend it as a purchase due to the lack of long term support for it. The 3DS on the other hand has plenty of games in the short and long term, it’s more a matter of whether or not they appeal to you.

Finally, Microsoft. Microsoft has been trailing Sony and the PS4 since release. At this E3, they gave their best effort yet to try and retake their place as the best-selling home console. With Halo 5: Guardians and Rise of the Tomb Raider they easily best Sony in terms of AAA games coming out this year. They even succeed in terms of diversity of representation: Halo 5 has a POC protagonist with Spartain Locke and if this Tomb Raider is anything like the last Lara Croft will yet again be an incredible female protagonist (far removed from her early days as a nothing more than a sex symbol with guns). Microsoft is also turning the Xbox One into a great system for indie games with their ID@Xbox program. With beautiful, and very unique games like Tacoma, Cuphead, Beyond Eyes, and Inside all coming either exclusively or first to Microsoft’s console they have certainly taken away Sony’s monopoly on indies from earlier in this generation.

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Looking further down the line Microsoft has ReCore, a new IP to match Sony’s unveling of Horizon (albeit sans any gameplay shown), Sea of Thieves, another new IP, and Gears 4. Microsoft also bested Sony’s poorly received Playstation Now by announcing backwards compatibility. Lastly, the Hololens seems to be absolutely incredible.

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With the Minecraft Hololens demo and the Halo 5 Hololens experience they have shown a more unique take on VR than the Morpheus, which was given little time on stage at E3 and I fear will not be able to match up with Oculus.

Before we wrap up, there needs to be a mention of another winner: female representation. We still have a long way to go, but this E3 was not like the E3 of ten years ago. Not everyone shown in games was a white dude with a shaved head. Games are starting to diversify. We have compelling female characters to look forward to. Rise of the Tomb Raider, ReCore, Horizon, Dishonored 2, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst, Fallout 4, Tacoma, and Beyond Eyes were all games shown during the major press conferences with female protagonists.

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Emily Kaldwin from Dishonored 2

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Aloy from Horizon: Zero Dawn

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Lara Croft from Rise of the Tomb Raider

Yes, there is still a lot progress that needs to be made. But let’s reflect on where we’ve come in the past ten years and be happy that we can find much greater diversity in the year’s biggest games.

Looking back on E3 there are many games to be very excited about. The question remains: who won E3? In my opinion, Microsoft won E3 2015. Sony has the issue of few games releasing soon. Nintendo has the issue of no games in the long term. Microsoft struck the best balance between these two. Their press conference was packed with game, after game, after game. I don’t think they won by a mile. Microsoft certainly cannot rest on its laurels. When Sony’s trifecta of The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII, and Shenmue 3 eventually does release Microsoft will need some big games to answer back. But they have shown at this E3 that they have learned from their early mistakes with the Xbox One and have doubled down on making as many compelling games for their console as possible. For these reasons, Microsoft and the Xbox One have won E3 2015. In reality of course, though, gamers by and large are the real winners. Anyone with any of the three major consoles has many reasons to be excited. This generation is filling up with incredible gaming experiences never before possible. Furthermore, gaming is growing more inclusive, not through gimmicks like motion-controls, but through story-telling and representation.

What did you think of E3 2015? Leave a comment below! And if you enjoyed this piece stay tuned here, GamesWithFriendsWrites.WordPress.com, for more of my musings and opinions on video games and more! You can also check out my YouTube channel, Games With Friends (link at top of page), for my Let’s Plays and commentary on great games, both recent and old. Enjoy!

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