23 Jun Thoughts on E3
From this year’s E3 show I came away with the feeling that the video game industry has recovered from the uncertainty that it faced in the period between the end of the last-gen and the beginning of the current-gen. Unlike the show of the last few years, the 2015 offering had plenty of new games for the latest generation of consoles – including some much needed new IP. As a game developer, E3 is an event that you want your game at. It is the one week of the year when the eyes of the world are on video games.
Going into E3 season this year we were very mindful of the fact that the big blockbuster games are just getting bigger at the show. The big games compete to have the biggest announcements and the most awe-inspiring booths.
Big blockbuster AAA games grace the show floor with booths that just scream for attention, with some that wouldn’t look out of place at a theme park, and the big announcements are made at press conferences that are streamed to millions across the world.
We were also very mindful that the E3 show floor is absolutely packed full of games. In fact, more games than any one journalist could possibly see even if they ran booth to booth for the 3 straight days of the show. The result being that each game may be seen by a lot of people, but not for long and on a show floor where the noise levels mean that hearing the game you’re playing can be a real challenge.
For Hellblade we decided on a very deliberate E3 strategy. Firstly, we didn’t have the opportunity to reveal our trailer in a press conference at this year’s show. So rather than risk having the trailer fall into the shade of the big press conferences, we decided to give the Hellblade trailer space to breathe on its own and release it, alongside screenshots and a dev diary, the week before the show on June 10th at 4pm BST. This came with a risk of its own, as even the week before E3 this year was busy with announcements. As it turned out we were lucky enough to release our E3 assets on a day and at a time when no one else chose to. This paid off, as the Hellblade E3 trailer has now had more views in 12 days than the announcement trailer has had in 10 months. I think if we had released the trailer and other assets at the show itself, outside of a press conference, we would have struggled to gain any kind of traction.
We had the opportunity to have Hellblade on the show floor at E3, but we opted not to. Instead we chose to have Hellblade tucked away in a private room where we staged one-to-one behind closed door sessions with individual journalists that lasted for 30 minutes. Hellblade is about being in Senua’s world, absorbing the atmosphere and experiencing the gameplay in the context of Senua’s story. Having the game demo behind closed doors allowed me to explain the approach that we’re taking to the game’s development, allowed press to take a break from the intensity of the show floor and take in the first playable in its entirety. It is true that this approach meant that we were limited in the number of journalists that could see the game, but it did mean that the press that did see the game could play it hands-on, hear about the project directly from its makers and also see and hear the game in a setting that allowed for them to immerse themselves in the experience.
I’m very pleased with how E3 went for Hellblade. We made some choices with how and when we showed the game that may have from the outside seemed unusual, but I feel like those decisions paid off. We found a quite spot in the run up to E3 in which to release our trailer and got the game in front of a small group of journalists that were given the time and space to really take in the experience.