Another E3 has come and gone, and with it the usual overload of new footage and information on dozens of games for this year and beyond. And yet, now that the dust has settled, another staple of the year’s biggest gaming convention has reared its ugly head: the disappointment behind games and developers that failed to show up at this year’s E3. Granted, some no-shows, such as Rockstar and Valve, are to be expected at this point, with companies such as those not necessarily needing a presence at E3 to hype up their future releases. But for the vast majority of absentees, consumers have continually fallen for an unnecessarily negative and predictable cycle: having hype levels being built to a critical point during the weeks prior to E3 to the point where the game or developer at hand feels all but confirmed to make an appearance, until they don’t, which then leads to frustration and hostility towards an often highly-anticipated title. The worst part of this cycle: it could all be completely avoided with a tiny bit more communication between the developer and its fans.
While discussing this topic, it’s likely that one (or several) titles have already came to mind that were missing from this year’s convention, and while this article will not attempt to cover every single one, there are certainly a few key games that directly exemplify a poor ability by the developers to properly prepare fans for the studio’s presence at E3. As EA kicked off the E3 festivities this year with their press conference, Star Wars fans were surprised that Visceral’s Star Wars title was nowhere to be spotted during the event, despite receiving a gameplay tease at last year’s E3 and supposedly releasing sometime next year. Later that day, Creative Director Amy Hennig tweeted that this was Battlefront 2’s year, and that the game would properly reveal itself when the time was right. Two nights afterwards, Creative Director at Naughty Dog Neil Druckmann would use the same excuse for the absence of The Last of Us: Part II, this time referencing Uncharted: The Lost Legacy as the sole culprit.
While these excuses are certainly valid, allowing the titles that are sooner to be released to have their time in the spotlight, there is little to no reason that either of these absences couldn’t have been addressed beforehand and in a more public manner, since both of the 2017 releases were already known about prior to the convention. Even less justified are the studios who remained radio silent both before and after E3, with big names like Sucker Punch and Retro Studios having titles in the works for at least three years and yet, for no apparent reason, were both unwilling to calm fans’ expectations by signifying their non-appearance at the show. For the thousands of fans that were looking forward to the new games from the teams behind InFamous and Metroid Prime respectively, even a minor dispatch could have helped lessen any negative buzz surrounding the teams as they continue to work hard towards their reveals and ultimate launches.
To be fair, not all developers have fallen into this same trap. Just this year, noteworthy studios such as Kojima Productions, Media Molecule and Ys Net all confirmed in the weeks before E3 began that they would not be showing their respective titles at this year’s event. As a result, while there were still some understandably disappointed reactions from eager fans, the feeling of being built up and then let down was fully circumvented, with mere Tweets and short press releases being all that was needed to bypass it. And ultimately, that’s what this comes down to: the simplicity of an action by a developer being compared to the drastic emotional difference it can have on fans, both by doing and not doing anything extra. This extra step and its lack of difficulty makes its irregularity rather baffling, and while it’s unrealistic to expect every single developer to reveal their presence (or lack thereof) at such a large event, a little more communication between developers and fans could prove to go a long way towards a less dramatic pre-release period for anticipated games.