The Big E3 2017 Prediction Article

Can you feel it? All the big gaming publisher’s marketing machines are preparing to kick it into high gear. Despite how big E3 is, its mid-to-early June date always seems to creep up on those who follow the industry. Suddenly it’s less than a month away!

There’s a lot of ways to approach E3. It can be tiring for those who have to cover every little detail– and it’s a lot of hectic work to be sure. Some lay back and point out the callousness of the whole advertising affair. And then there’s people like me.

I’ve always liked the spectacle trade shows tend to bring, and can respect a well-orchestrated PR campaign– especially when it comes to surprise game reveals. I like playing games, and E3, at its core, is a bunch of games. So every year I go into the press conferences with some interest– even for presenters I don’t think will show games I have interest in.

And every year I write up a handful of prediction articles for those major press conferences, which, admittedly, can be tiring and tedious in themselves. So enough with that! WELCOME to the big E3 2017 Prediction Article. Here, we’re going to go through every big presenter (apologies in advance to Devolver and the PC gaming show)– looking at what we know, what we can expect, the big questions that need to be answered, and making a few predictions along the way.

As always, this is meant to be a fun way to look at what the event might have to offer and prep a bit for all the different games that will be vying for your attention next month.

Electronic Arts | Microsoft | Bethesda | Ubisoft | Sony | Nintendo


 

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EA Play 2017 | Saturday, June 10 | 12pm PT

Known Games: Star Wars: Battlefront II, Untitled Visceral Star Wars title, Untitled Respawn Entertainment Star Wars title, Need for Speed 2017, Madden NFL 18, FIFA 18, NBA Live 18, NHL 18, PGA Tour 18, Untitled new BioWare IP, Sea of Solitude, Fe

Biggest Question: How long before all the talk about Star Wars games leads to tangible games?

Last year, EA spent a few minutes of their press conference talking about how many of their developers were working on Star Wars titles without showing off any games. It’s been four years since EA struck a deal with LucasFilms for exclusive rights to make games for the biggest franchise in the world– it’s time to show results.

Considering that this will be another big year for Star Wars with The Last Jedi coming out, it seems prime time for EA to pounce. We know Star Wars: Battlefront II will be at E3 this year, but what about all the other games EA is working on? It seems likely that Star Wars: The Old Republic will at least get passing mention as it does every year, but what of Visceral and Respawn’s Star Wars games? Will they make an appearance? One would hope, but with EA, you can never be sure.

Show Prediction

If EA has proven anything over the past few years, it’s that they’re willing to talk about games in development even if they don’t have anything to show. I fear that the trend will continue this year, especially if EA decides to spend time on BioWare’s untitled new IP that they revealed back in 2014 or Respawns untitled, Star Wars game.

Other than that, expect two things when going into this press conference: EA Sports and Star Wars. EA has leaned on its sporting games for years, so that much is obvious, but as I said earlier, 2017 is prime time for Star Wars-related media, and I fully expect EA to try to cash in by any means necessary– with a chance that anything else might get lost in the shuffle.

Big Prediction: Visceral’s Star Wars game blows everything else out of the water

I’ve long been a fan of the Uncharted series, and former head writer for the series Amy Hennig has taken the lead over at Visceral for their Star Wars project. To say I’m interested in what comes of that is an understatement. It wouldn’t surprise me if the game that comes out of this collaboration ends up being the most anticipated title that EA, and maybe even the rest of the industry, has to offer this year.


 

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Xbox E3 Briefing | Sunday, June 11 | 2pm PT

Known Games: Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, Crackdown 3, Cuphead 

Biggest Question: Does Microsoft have enough of a case for consumers to buy an Xbox One over a PC or PS4, even with Scorpio imminent?

The first two years that Microsoft showed off titles for Xbox One, they brought out numerous announcements of first-party and console exclusive titles. Those seem to have dried up more recently, except among independent developers. Adding to that was the decision to make all Xbox One exclusive games available on Windows as well– a player friendly move that may have also incentivized consumers to purchase a gaming PC over Microsoft’s home console.

With Scorpio, it seems that Microsoft is trying to position Xbox One as the premiere place to play 3rd party titles, as up to this point, they’d struggled with a machine that was slightly less powerful than their competitor. But there’s still questions over whether they can sell Scorpio to consumers when their exclusive offerings pale in comparison to the bulk of highly rated, exclusive titles Sony has amassed thus far.

Show Prediction 

It’s really telling that the list of exclusive titles we know Microsoft has is short– even more so when you consider that virtually all of them have shown at multiple E3’s prior to this year. Since it seems less and less likely that the next entry in the Halo franchise is going to show up, you start to worry if the lackluster shows they’ve had in years past are just going to get worse.

If Microsoft wants to impress, they’ll need to do it with some surprises, reveals, and exclusivity deals. Scorpio will get its time, as will a whole lot of third party partners with good lineups that Microsoft can pick and choose from, but without big exclusives, it’s going to be really hard to sell Xbox over a gaming PC or PS4. And the closer we get to E3, the more I begin to doubt they can do it.

Biggest Prediction: A New BioShock graces Xbox’s stage. 

You want a big surprise? This would be it. 2K Marin has been quiet since 2013, and despite being thought of as dead by former employees, Take-Two announced in 2014 that 2K Marin would be working on all BioShock titles going forward. With 3 years between that announcement and now, you’d hope there’d finally be something to show for it, and since Xbox has a pretty good history with the series, Microsoft’s stage may be the best place to reveal it.


 

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Bethesda E3 Showcase | Sunday, June 11 | 7pm PT

Known Games: Quake Champions

Biggest Question: Does Bethesda have enough games to even warrant a press conference?

Granted, “enough games” for Bethesda is like 4, but I’m still interested to see if they have enough to fill an hour long press conference. In 2015, they essentially gave 50% of their press conference to Doom and Fallout 4. Last year, Arkane took over with a teaser for Prey and Dishonored 2. At this point, however, all but one of the titles they’ve shown in the past two years have launched.

So what will Bethesda do to make their presentation not feel like an afterthought? Even last year’s presentation felt a little thin beyond Dishonored 2. Whether it be DLC or new games, how much of a lineup will Bethesda be able to walk out onto the stage this year?

Show Prediction

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Quake Champions get heavy billing, considering the hero shooter approach would give them the option to look at individual characters. And with titles such as The Elder Scrolls Online and The Elder Scrolls Legends, as well as several games that could get some DLC in Fallout 4 and Dishonored 2, there’s definitely a considerable amount you could use to fill in the middle.

But there are two studios that should be ready to show off a new title. MachineGames finished The Old Blood, the standalone expansion to Wolfenstein: The New Order, in 2015, and Tango Gameworks released The Evil Within way back in 2014. With new rumors and leaks circulating that both studios are working on sequels to their most recent releases (including a little hint at a New Order sequel at their presser last year), it wouldn’t be surprising at all if both titles grace Bethesda’s stage– whether in playable form or as CGI trailers like Prey and Quake Champions did last year remains to be seen.

Biggest Prediction: The Elder Scrolls VI is revealed. 

You know it has to be coming sooner or later. The last Elder Scrolls game launched 3 years after Fallout 3, and after that, 4 years until Fallout 4. Now there’s definitely a good chance that this doesn’t appear. In 2015, they announced Fallout 4 the same year it came out, and The Elder Scrolls VI would more than likely release in 2018 or 19 rather than the upcoming holidays. But it would be a big prediction if it wasn’t at least a bit out there, and a new title in one of the biggest franchises in the world would certainly turn some heads.


 

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Ubisoft E3 Press Conference | Monday, June 12 | 1pm PT

Known Games: South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Just Dance 2018, Untitled The Crew Sequel, Untitled Far Cry Sequel, Assassin’s Creed Origins

Biggest Question: Will anything Ubisoft have anything that will exceed expectations?

Up until recently, the question Ubisoft needed to answer was “what do you have to surprise us?” since the only title remaining from the past year was South Park. But with recent news that new entries in the Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and The Crew franchises will be released before March of next year, the question has changed– well, not changed so much as adjusted. Instead of “what do you have?”, it’s now “is what you have going to impress?”.

As a company that has tried to sequelize everything in their arsenal, many of their titles have started gaining the “oh another one of those” mindset from viewers. Even titles like Far Cry had that issue in their last release, Primal. It certainly doesn’t help that the last two Ubisoft game reveals that really surprised viewers were Watch Dogs and The Division– titles that garnered criticisms over how much worse they looked in their final form compared to what Ubisoft presented onstage.

Ubisoft’s challenge this year is going to be proving that their development processes have not made their franchises stale. That they can still surprise viewers when we think we know what to expect.

Show Prediction 

Despite knowing not to trust them, I’m predicting Ubisoft has a much more condensed show than the 2-hour marathon they put on last year.

They have an assortment of big titles to show off– any of which would be interesting to see demoed onstage.Assassin’s Creed Origins and Far Cry will likely see the most action, and of course you can always trust Ubisoft to put on a painfully lengthy Just Dance performance.

Hopefully, Ubisoft realizes they don’t actually need to spend that much time on the South Park title that’ll be on its third and final E3 appearance before releasing in the fall, and uses that time to show why The Crew 2 might improve on the failings of its predecessor (like folding Wisconsin under Chicago, you monsters). It’ll also be interesting to see if the rumored Rabbids Kingdom Battle appears on Ubisoft’s stage at all or if they hold it off completely for Nintendo’s own presentation.

Beyond all that, you can almost guarantee that Ubisoft is going to reveal a brand new title to close out their presser, as they’ve done it every year in recent memory– Steep in 2016, Ghost Recon: Wildlands in 2015, Rainbow Six: Siege in 2014, and The Division in 2013, Watch Dogs in 2012, and Far Cry 3, despite leaks, in 2011. If something’s going to really surprise viewers. That is almost always going to be the one to do it.

Biggest Prediction: The Beyond Good & Evil Title is Revealed

We don’t yet know if the new title will be a prequel, a sequel, or a reboot. What we do know is that it’s been almost ten years since the teaser trailer for another entry in the series was released. Rumors abound throughout last year that the title was back in development– one such rumor suggesting that Nintendo was helping to fund it in order to make it an exclusive on the Nintendo Switch. The rumors were finally put to bed late last year when it was revealed that the title was back in development and, despite not being close to completion, has been since Rayman Legends was finished.

So now seems as good a time as ever to reintroduce it in all its glory, especially to answer the only remaining rumor in play: is it a Nintendo Switch exclusive or not?


 

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PlayStation E3 Media Showcase | Monday, June 12 | 6pm PT

Known Games: Knack 2, Gran Turismo Sport, Days Gone, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, The Last of Us: Part II, God of War, Dreams, Death Stranding, Detroit: Become Human, Spider-Man PS4, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

Biggest Question: Can Sony sell VR as a viable product with meaningful support?

 Sony has increasingly provided their press conferences with larger and larger PlayStation VR blocks since its initial announcement leading up to its release this past year. But instead of showing off entire titles made specifically for VR, they instead tried to show off small experiments and “experiences” from large, well known developers. Furthermore, they just seem unwilling to demo PS VR onstage due to how silly it can look– which felt a little detrimental to one of their biggest full-VR titles in Farpoint, which ended up looking like a generic, buggy FPS.

So this year Sony will have to turn it around. They have multiple internal studios that should be freed up to work on new VR titles– especially SIE London Studio and Supermassive games, who both released VR titles when the console launched last year and have a good track record when it comes to working on multiple titles simultaneously.

Whether they also turn to independent studios to help out, or again try to rely on big publishers who aren’t yet willing to take the plunge will likely decide whether PS VR becomes a serious gaming product or just goes the way of the Vita.

Show Predictions 

One of the biggest problems with guessing what will happen at a Sony conference is that they have so many talent-laden internal development studios and such good relationships with third party publishers that there could be huge games coming to their system, whether first or third party, that are nonexistent at their E3 press conference. Some of the most critically acclaimed exclusives they’ve had thus far– Japanese titles like Nier: Automata, Yakuza 0, and Persona 5– never even graced the E3 stage.

Even big titles from press conferences in years past may not make an appearance. Media Molecule’s Dreams missed out on last year’s show, and there are worries over if it will even surface again. Death Stranding was a crowd favorite at both E3 last year and at The Game Awards, but both were mere concept trailers, and gameplay likely isn’t at a point now where it can be shown. Hell, with both a standalone Uncharted game and a sequel to The Last of Us from Naughty Dog, can we even expect both titles to show? It’s hard to tell.

No matter what they do, you know they’ll have a big lineup of PlayStation exclusive games to show off a demo, and with the console lead they carry, they’ll likely bring in the biggest 3rd party titles­– with multiple FPSs to choose from in Destiny 2, Far Cry 5, and Star Wars: Battlefront II to complement Call of Duty: WWII, which will 100% be there due to the deal Sony struck with Activision.

It’ll be interesting to see how well each title can hit– and even more on how many will be releasing this fiscal year.

Biggest Prediction: We finally get a sense of when Kingdom Hearts III or Final Fantasy VII Remake will release.

Final Fantasy VII Remake’s snazzy CGI trailer in 2015 certainly was hype inducing, as was the announcement for Kingdom Hearts III’s development way back at E3 2013. But when the dust settled, any viewer began wondering just how long it would take before those games were completed. After all, Final Fantasy XV just released last year after having gone through a decade of development and a name change.

Of the two, Kingdom Hearts III seems the most likely to hear more about. Bits and pieces of information have trickled in about the game over the past year or so, but the last time we saw it at E3 was at Square Enix’s presentation in 2015. It’s been at least 4 years since it began development, and despite knowing it won’t release this fiscal year, it really is about time they let us know just how many more years we’ll have to wait.


 

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Nintendo Spotlight | Tuesday, June 13 | 9am PT

Known Games: Super Mario Odyssey, Arms, Splatoon 2, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Fire Emblem Warriors 

Biggest Question: Does Switch have enough support to avoid past console droughts?

So we know we have a handful of games coming out between E3 and the end of the year, but it’s a few less than what you’d need to avoid two months without a big game release. Furthermore, all the games we know about have a targeted release date of 2017. So what about 2018? When the year ends, what does Nintendo have then?

That’s what Nintendo needs to answer. Their initial reveal event left a lot of people feeling like Nintendo couldn’t close the gaps and that Switch wasn’t going to get the consistent support you’d expect for a console to be successful. They’ll likely need a few games to shore up this year’s lineup, and another handful of titles to look forward to going into 2018. Or they could just announce a new Pokémon game for Switch. If they just released one of those every year, they’d still probably sell tens of millions.

Show Predictions

Generally, I try to remain cautious when it comes to Nintendo. Even in my most reserved predictions in years past, I ended up overestimating what they had to show. And yet, here we are, with me thinking that this year could be the biggest year for Nintendo at E3 since maybe 2010.

The presentation is described as “a closer look at the Super Mario Odyssey game and new details for Nintendo Switch games launching this year.” So you can generally assume that they’ll avoid talking 3DS. But I am a little worried that they’re only talking about this year– rather than early 2018 and beyond, which, as a Switch owner, I’m a little more concerned about. Though if they’re focus is just on this year, one would have to assume that there’s more that they have to reveal for 2017, which is certainly intriguing.

But looking at the development schedules of various Nintendo teams, it’s not all that surprising if they do have quite a number of new titles in the near future. Plus, there’ve been a number of rumors from reliable sources that could easily help fill in the gaps. There’s the rumored Super Mario Maker and Super Smash Bros. ports, as well as Beyond Good & Evil 2. There’s the Pikmin 4 title that Miyamoto had mentioned was almost done a couple of years ago, assuming Hey, Pikmin! wasn’t it. And of course, there’s the Rabbids Kingdom Battle title whose leaks Ubisoft just can’t seem to shore up.

The biggest question marks right now, as far as individual titles and developers are concerned, is whether Retro Studios (last title released in early 2014), the Animal Crossing Team (last title being a spin-off that launched in 2015), or Game Freak have a title lined up for Switch this year.

Game Freak is, of course, the most interesting of the three. Whereas Retro and the AC team make sense due to the time since their last release, Game Freak doesn’t normally come to Nintendo’s newest handhelds early. They released two sets of Pokémon titles on DS after the 3DS released before finally making Pokémon X & Y in 2013. But The Pokémon Company has said that they are already making a Pokémon title for Switch– just not if it will be a spin-off, of the real deal.

Biggest Prediction: Samus Returns

At E3 2015, when Metroid Prime: Federation Force was revealed to… let’s say less than critical acclaim, the producer of the Prime franchise mentioned that if they were to make another HD, Samus-centric title in the franchise, it would probably take 3 years and launch on Switch instead of Wii U. If Nintendo has heard anything since then, it’s definitely been that fans want more Metroid– in any form. GameInformer magazine even told Miyamoto straight to his face, in a completely unrelated interview that they’d like a new 2D Metroid.

Nintendo has had 2 years to work on a new title, and with all the games for Switch coming up, soon, they have leeway to announce a game with a little more time before it’s ready. Furthermore, considering the last time I decided to predict a game that I just really, really wanted to see, it was The Last Guardian in 2015. If Metroid shows up, it will confirm my superpower: making games come to fruition purely by force of will.

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