So, last year we had the first-ever Xbox Games Showcase in July, and for the most part, I think it went very well. I loved many of the announcements, I thought the pace was great and above all, especially given the circumstances, I felt it was a fun time for Xbox fans. Now that we’re in 2021, it again seems that a traditional E3 is off the table, and Xbox is in a very different position this time around, both in terms of having a show under their belt, but also in terms of nearly doubling in studio size overnight. As such, I was curious how people think the show should go this year. Also, this isn’t a predictions thread, so please no “I wanna see Compulsion’s game” or “Announce you’ve acquired SEGA/Paradox/Embracer/whomever.”
Personally, these are my recommendations:
1. Start the show when you are ready.
As it currently stands, the Zenimax deal has yet to close. Currently, EU approval notice should be provided on March 5th and should everything go according to plan, the deal should close shortly after. However, Microsoft has stated the Zenimax deal could close as late as the end of June, and this is before any unforeseen bumps in the road, to which I sincerely hope (and suspect) there are none. After this point, focus needs to be placed on integrating Zenimax into Microsoft and assessing the forthcoming pipeline. I do not know how long this will take.
All I will say is please do not rush a show to meet a deadline. If, for example, you need an extra month with Zenimax, please take it. I am totally fine with a July or August show if needed. I don’t think a show needs to be at E3 or needs to lie within the Summer Games Fest time period.
2. Combine Bethesda and Xbox shows
Simple and straightforward. I think at times Bethesda and Xbox shows can go on a bit longer than necessary. Merging the two should hopefully lead to a meaty but well paced show!
3. Revisit the May Inside Xbox idea
A showcase for third parties, in particular, indies and AA is a fantastic idea and by all accounts I found a ton to like in last years show. Perhaps doing an ID @ Xbox Live show is the way to go. Just set appropriate expectations, but I think the idea is great.
4. Get further involved in the pre-show.
Last year’s pre-show had some pretty good announcements from Xbox’s third party partners. I cannot wait for ExoMecha and Echo Generation looks like great fun from a promising local team. That being said, I cannot say I loved other aspects of the preshow. While seeing people like Alanah Pearce was great, it seemed many of the influencers were either ambivalent to or did not care for Xbox. While dissenting voices are important, for an official event, it kinda takes the wind out of your sails when before Halo you hear “I’m gonna take a bathroom break” and after you hear “Balan Wonderworld was far better than anything shown.” People are entitled to their opinions and tastes but it kinda undoes some of the good for the show.
If you wanna stick with Keighley, I think he is a fantastic interviewer, dating back to his time with Valve. You have some of the best names in gaming with incredible stories to tell and charisma to spare on your team. Major Nelson, Aaron Greenberg, Phil Spencer, Sarah Bond, Brian Fargo, Tameem Antoniades, Todd Howard, Harvey Smith, the ever-delightful Tim Schafer, Darell Galagher, Joe Staten, the list goes on. Having a pre-show of announcements and some interviews with these fine folks would be plenty to be excited for. While these names may not be on the level of the Pewdiepies, MatPats or Jacksepticeyes of the YouTube verse, I think they are far more exciting to learn from and could really help set the tone.
5. Gameplay When Possible, Deep Dives When Not
I think gameplay is important, but I also realize it can be a double-edged sword. When you are too forthcoming about the state of the game, you get a response like Halo Infinite. When you “polish upwards” too much you get Killzone 2 or Cyberpunk. Especially with the time it takes for a vertical slice + the shift to work from home, I understand why gameplay may not be shown.
If this is the case, I’d really like to see something closer to the reveal of Perfect Dark. I think having the devs talk about their vision for the game, their ideas, showing some concept art and then going into the trailer raised the hype and helped paint a picture of what to expect. While I loved the teasers for SoD 3, Avowed and Fable, they don’t tell us a ton more than “zombie deer in State of Decay”, “Pillars is going first-person”, “Fable’s back baby!”. I think some interviews would be really nice.
As an aside, I think some release windows would be nice, but I also understand given Covid, preferring to take the approach Sony did of announcing dates closer to their release. It makes sense.
6. Do Something Special With Halo, but Outside of the Main Show
This is probably going to be my most controversial opinion, and I understand if people disagree. I’m excited for Halo Infinite. I’ve been excited for Halo Infinite since… well, when it was first announced in 2018. However, we have had 3 teases at the game now including a controversial demo. I think for Halo Infinite, they should show a brief gameplay teaser for the campaign, and then maybe take a card out of Nintendo’s book. Open up the flights on that day, and live stream an invitational in the post-show with some Halo champs trying out the new multiplayer.
I’m excited for Halo, but I also think given this is the fourth event it is featured at, it shouldn’t be the opener or closer, but rather should be revealed in a different way.
Those are my thoughts. What do you think?