Kicking off E3 2017 was the hubris of EA. Not to say not all marketing events like these aren’t full of overflowing and overwhelming pride and swagger, but the idea that they single-handedly decide to reach over to Saturday—the traditional calm before the fuckfest—and turn E3 into a six-day marathon. (They’re not the first to step across the lines what with Bethesda grabbing at Sunday with Microsoft following suit.)
At least they brought some games, and more than that, they were some hella good-looking ones. EA’s indie initiative is bringing to life the follow-up from the developers of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and BioWare teased their long-awaited sci-fi game Anthem. And I guess someone out there cares that they’re still trying to make basketball games.
But they also taught some important lessons, as people are (unintentionally) want to do. Huge, monolithic companies are usually out of touch on how to connect intent with execution, but this conference was exceptionally heinous for some reason. For many reasons, really, so let’s get into it.
Make More Games That Look Like Burnout
A lot of people are making comparisons between the newly announced Need for Speed Payback and the Fast and Furious franchise, and that’s fair given that several movies of that series feature heists amidst barreling 18-wheelers. But the key for me is that this thing looks like someone said, “You know was fun? Smashing cars with my car in Burnout Paradise.”
And that’s because Burnout Paradise is one of the best games ever made. And the industry has been sorely missing games that allow you do that thing that Burnout games let you do. To wit, the excitement that surrounded Dangerous Golf when it was announced as coming from a studio comprised of Burnout veterans. So yeah, do more of this.
Don’t Make YouTubers Read From Teleprompters
Sure, exceptions exist to where they can obvious make it work. There’s an example of that, in fact, in this same press conference with Justine “iJustine” Ezarik. But then when you put untrained personalities like Jesse Wellens, you get flat delivery, wandering eye lines, and a limp segment. That dude is ostensibly a prankster (but also fuck prankster YouTubers), so why not focus on that instead of something he clearly isn’t capable of doing?
Put More Money into EA Originals
You probably remember playing Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons back in 2013. It was a game with an interesting hook wherein you used each stick on your controller to independently and simultaneously control two characters. And it tugged a lot of heartstrings with its ending, which beautifully wove together story and gameplay into something tremendous.
Now we have Josef Fares, director of Brothers, has started his own studio Hazelight and partnered with EA via their EA Originals program to bring A Way Out to life. It’s a co-op game that can only be played in split-screen, where the entirety of its mechanics and presentation are based on that simple crux. It’s actually kind of hard to explain, but if you watch the trailer (or the commentated gameplay trailer), you’ll see how it plays with staples of action games by using this strange but intriguing foundation. So if EA Originals brings us more ideas like this, then fill that sucker up with money, fellas.
Everybody Hates Bad eSports
Star Wars Battlefront was a decent game that managed to actually feel like Star Wars despite being hampered by a lack of depth. So the fervor surrounding the announcement of a sequel would be natural. So how do you show it off? Not by making it fake eSports.
You know how I just said you shouldn’t make YouTubers read from teleprompters? You also shouldn’t make them talk over people playing a game that they aren’t experts in but are used to dicking around. Case in point: StoneMountain64, one of the YouTubers at EA Play, has his livestream archive up of the event and it is way more interesting than any of the vamping and stretching Ezarik and Alex “Goldenboy” Mendez. Jordan Mallory over at Waypoint has additional insight as to why this should NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.
Have Janina Gavankar Do More Things
EA is making it a tradition now to have one presenter be the obvious highlight of not just other hosts but their entire show. In 2015, it was Martin Sahlin talking about the personal nature of his game Unravel. (Kind of reminds me that we didn’t see anything from Fe, the first EA Originals title announced last year.) This year, it was Janina Gavankar.
Gavankar plays Inferno Squad Commander Iden Versio in Star Wars Battlefront II and she wants everyone to know it. She’s commanding, she’s charismatic, and she can, like, talk while reading a room. (She also has a website where she talks about a lot of stuff.) Just bring her back and have her host the whole damn thing like Ubisoft did with Aisha Tyler.
Don’t Tease a Game at a Different Press Event
Because fuck us, right?
No One Trusts EA to Make a Basketball Game
Like, no one.
And this isn’t a lesson from the press conference. I just wanted to remind everyone.