LOS ANGELES — With some publishers splitting from the show floor and more gamers sliding on virtual reality headsets than ever before, this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo moved the video game industry in decidedly different directions than past installments of the annual interactive extravaganza.
The event drew more than 50,000 industry insiders to the Los Angeles Convention Center this week, while 20,000 gamers attended an all-new fan fest held outside. The attention-seeking competition for eyeballs and hashtags was fierce as rivals showcased new hardware and software.
Who won E3?
INSIDE VS. OUTSIDE
In the weeks leading up to the gathering of the game industry, much was made about the decision by Electronic Arts and Activision to forgo their usual spaces on the E3 show floor. EA opted for a fan-focused event across the street at the LA Live entertainment complex, and Activision hunkered down in meeting rooms and at Sony’s booth. Their absences on the floor were noticeable and allowed other publishers to command more attention, such as 2K Games with its lavish New Orleans-themed revelry to promote “Mafia III.”
MICROSOFT VS. SONY
The titans of the gaming industry faced off this year utilizing very different strategies. Sony solely focused on a mix of established series and original games coming to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR. Meanwhile, Microsoft boasted slimmer and more powerful versions of Xbox One, as well as the ability to buy and play games across devices. Sony’s games felt more solid than Microsoft’s line-up, but the Xbox maker proved it isn’t afraid to break down barriers.
“STAR WARS” VS. “STAR TREK”
During its press conference, EA played a video highlighting its studios working on “Star Wars” games around the world. However, they didn’t actually show any of them off. The next day, Ubisoft beamed “Star Trek” actor LeVar Burton onto its stage to hype “Star Trek: Bridge Crew,” a multiplayer VR game that casts players as Starfleet officers set for release this fall. EA certainly has The Force, but its upcoming “Star Wars” titles were far, far away from E3.
WINNER: “Star Trek.”
ROBOTS VS. ZOMBIES
There was no lack of games featuring either undead or mechanized beings at E3. “Dead Rising 4,” “Days Gone” and “State of Decay 2” were just a few of the titles tasking players with mowing down brain-hungry hordes, while “ReCore,” “Horizon Zero Dawn” and “Detroit: Become Human” all feature assembly lines of super-smart bots. At this point, haven’t we reached peak saturation with the undead? It’s time for an upgrade. Hasta la vista, zombies.
OCULUS RIFT VS. HTC VIVE VS. PLAYSTATION VR
It’s a three-way battle for VR domination! After years of hype, the immersive medium is really here and made a huge mark across the show floor with almost every major publisher demonstrating VR creations. Oculus and HTC touted impressive exclusives, such as the black-and-white mystery “Wilson’s Heat” and a VR version of “Fallout 4.” However, with VR titles that put users underneath Batman’s cowl and in the pilot’s seat of an X-Wing, Sony can’t be beat.
Winner: PlayStation VR.
“THE LEGEND OF ZELDA” VS. EVERYONE ELSE
With sales of the Wii U still in the pits, Nintendo attempted a bold tactic at this year’s expo. The “Super Mario” maker dedicated its entire E3 booth to a sole game: “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” an open-world rendition of the 30-year-old sword-swinging series. The singular focus was successful, if a mind-boggling line of sweaty gamers — some waiting up to three hours — was any indication.
WINNER: “The Legend of Zelda.”