E3 2019 Thoughts: Revenge of the CG!

Another E3 has come and gone and it’s time to catch up on my sleep but to compile my thoughts to start making sense of everything that happened at E3 2019. I had a few general thoughts on the show this year so consider this that discussion on everything I’ve seen so far.

e3 2019 logo

There’s been a ton of reveals, big surprises, and a couple of let downs as well, but overall, I’m enjoying the ride. I’ll have my thoughts on the individual conferences starting next week, but I wanted to lay out some initial thoughts that I had about this year’s show overall. There was one pattern that seemed to unite everyone, which I may have hinted at a bit in the title of this article.

Yes, that’s right, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the over use of CGI.

For those of you watching at home, it felt like every trailer we’ve seen featured the use of computer graphics and/or cinematics. Don’t get me wrong, I love some of the cinematic and CG trailers that companies create, but there were plenty of instances where I was looking for something more. Plenty of cool concepts were shown off, but unfortunately I couldn’t tell you much about what the game actually is because the trailer gave us literally no insight.

This was especially true for all of those new games that were announced, like Deathloop, Ghostwire: Tokyo, or Outriders. It also applies to some of the games we’ve known about that were being shown off for the first time. I’m looking at you Marvel’s Avengers. Sure, CG trailers are exciting but the problem with them is that they don’t give the viewer any idea about the actual game. Maybe that’s the point.

Now why was this such a big thing this year? I don’t know for sure, but I have a theory or two.

Avoid the Anthem Effect
This one is pure speculation on my part but when you think about it, the theory make sense. So EA’s Anthem was supposed to be this incredible new IP, mixing the story elements that BioWare is known for with plenty of third person action RPG and a dash of loot. As we know now, it wasn’t the case. While BioWare continues to plug away on the game, it’s clearly on life support so it’s pretty incredible to look back on the debut trailer we got a few E3s ago.

Anthem Logo

Perhaps that was the problem. The lighting, the visuals, the level of polish and detail. These things were missing or dramatically altered for the full release and I can’t help but feel like this played a big role in Anthem’s downfall. Could it be that other companies saw this and wanted to prevent a similar situation when their game’s ultimately release?

That’s why CG trailers help. People understand that they don’t represent the actual game, therefore eliminating any expectations from forming. In fact, with CG trailers, you can’t really make any sort of judgments at all.

We’re now in-between console cycles
The other plausible scenario is that this is a result of being in between console cycles. Everyone is well aware that the NextBox and PS5 are coming in 2020, which means that many of these games we’ve seen could be launch titles for that hardware rather than what he have now. Why show it off in full now? There’s no reason to.

Perhaps many of these games are cross-generation, which, again, doesn’t really push the studios to actually show the game off. Now obviously, we did get some gameplay demos and trailers, from Nintendo especially, but for the most part, like 90% of the show involved CG.

Ultimately, I think this year’s E3 was a product of the crossroads the industry now finds itself in. With this generation winding down, perhaps there’s just not much ready to show off at the moment. That’s why I’m thinking E3 2020 should be a pretty monumental show. It’s the last opportunity to really wow the crowd before new hardware launches so you’d have to imagine that most companies will want to leave lasting impressions.

What were your initial thoughts on E3 2019? Did the industry overuse CG trailers? What games were you hoping to see gameplay from but ultimately didn’t?

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3 Responses to E3 2019 Thoughts: Revenge of the CG!

  1. Hatm0nster says:

    The overabundance of cinematic trailers was unfortunate, but not surprising. Like you said, being at the tail-end of this console cycle has a lot to do with it, but I think it’s also because we’re in an in-between year too. All the good stuff is slated for Q1 2020 and all the really new and exciting games are still too early in development to be showing gameplay.

    Of course, this has also kind of always been the case with E3. It’s always been about announcements rather than showing games in action. That stuff always comes later in the year during other events.

    • Yeah, we’re certainly in a very interesting time for games. I think we were expecting bigger things this year (I know I was) largely due to Microsoft saying as much when it learned Sony dropped out completely.

      In the end, maybe the fact that the show was missing one of the big 3 ultimately hurt things more than any of us thought. Same could be said if it was Microsoft or Nintendo as the ones who opted out instead.

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