E3 2014: What Games Were Missing and Why
There were some notable absences from this year's E3, so here's a quick rundown of what was missing and why.
Despite plenty of glimpses at games coming in 2015 and beyond at E3 this year, there were a number of games that we'd been expecting to hear more news about that were notably absent. Some are games that have been announced but have gone strangely dark, while others are games that we've been expecting news of for years, but still haven't heard anything about. Let's completely ignore the obvious two candidates that always come up in these conversations and focus on the games that actually have a chance of emerging at some point.
This one was just wishful thinking really, because it has been pretty clear for a while that Bethesda isn't ready to say anything on the subject of Fallout 4 yet. Back in February, Bethesda Game Studios director Todd Howard told RockPaperShotgun, "We don't [have a time frame for our next game announcement]," before going on to confess, "I think it's gonna be a while." Howard said curiosity from fans about what Bethesda might make next comes as no surprise. "We've gotten fairly used to all the questions and curiosity over the years," he said. "Everyone wants information. Right now, we're just trying to figure out which of our ideas are going to stick and finding an appropriate time to talk about it."
So technically it wasn't missing from E3. It's just that we all wanted it, despite the fact that Bethesda is nowhere near ready to talk about it yet.
Final Fantasy XV
In an interview with Famitsu (translated here by Kotaku), Square Enix executive Shinji Hashimoto--who heads up the Final Fantasy brand for the Japanese publisher--said the game is progressing well, but E3 is not the right time to share new information about it.
"First, I just want to say that Final Fantasy XV's development is progressing favorably," Hashimoto said. "In the company, we're always trying to figure out the optimal timing to release new information to the fans. We decided that this year's E3 is not the most suitable time to release such information. Instead, we are preparing for an event after E3 to make new announcements." So, Tokyo Game Show then?
It also doesn't sound like Square Enix has plans to talk about Kingdom Hearts III anytime soon. "Right now, we are working hard on the game, and I think that we'd like some more time to make new announcements," Hashimoto said in the same interview.
Nintendo's Quality of Life Products
There was plenty of speculation before E3 that we'd see Nintendo focus a lot of energy on the "quality of life" and health products that had been mentioned earlier this year. "[Former Nintendo boss Hiroshi] Yamauchi was one to always say, 'Nintendo is a company for entertainment, and it shouldn't be for anything else,' and he didn't necessarily think that 'entertainment [equals] video games,'" Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata said in a recent interview with Diamond.jp. "Lately, the words 'QOL' [quality of life] have come up," he said. "Entertainment is there to improve people's quality of life. After your basic needs, there's entertainment. At the start of this year, I finally figured that improving people's quality of life with fun--with emphasis to the 'fun'--would be perfect for Nintendo."
These comments in April had fueled speculation that we'd see more products along the lines of Wii Fit U, or possibly even some kind of new hardware at E3 2014, but it turns out this wasn't the case. Why? Well, there haven't been any statements to this effect, but it's highly likely that Iwata's own health was an issue. "You won't be seeing Mr. Iwata at E3 next week. He's been instructed by his physician not to travel overseas in the immediate future, and so he will not be making the trip to Los Angeles," a representative said before E3. "Please understand that it is business as usual for Mr. Iwata, and he continues his normal duties as president of Nintendo Co. Ltd. while he remains in Japan. As always, he will be actively involved in all of Nintendo's activities at the show."
The Xbox One-exclusive time-traveling multimedia extravaganza Quantum Break had its big coming-out party at E3 last year, but things have been pretty quiet since. Many of us assumed it would be central to Microsoft's showcase on June 9, but it was nowhere to be seen. It hasn't disappeared completely though. The team at Finland-based Remedy Entertainment is saying that it will instead offer hands-on time with the game at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, this August.
Bully 2 or Red Dead Redemption 2
Rockstar hasn't announced anything new since shipping Grand Theft Auto V in September 2013, and at E3 we finally got confirmation that the game would indeed be coming to the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One as previously suspected. Earlier this year, Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick said during a post-earnings financial call that he is "very excited about what [Rockstar Games] have in store for next-gen systems."
I pretty much know the ones that I can assure you are permanent. It's obvious that GTA is a permanent franchise as long as we keep delivering this incredible quality; it seems quite obvious that Red Dead is a permanent franchise, again with the same caveat.Strauss Zelnick, Take-Two Interactive CEO
As long ago as November 2011, Rockstar co-founder and vice president of creative Dan Houser told Gamasutra that the publisher may be returning to the critically well-received Bully following the release of Max Payne 3. Rockstar Vancouver, the main team behind that game, was also the primary studio behind Bully, and Houser said the developer has a similar affinity for both properties. Currently there have been no announcements as to what that studio is actually working on, but whatever it is, they've been doing it for nearly three years now. Surely we're about due for an announcement?
In May of this year, while speaking at the Cowen and Company analyst conference, Zelnick described the Red Dead brand as a "permanent" franchise that can sit alongside the likes of Grand Theft Auto or Borderlands. "I pretty much know the ones that I can assure you are permanent," he said. "It's obvious that GTA is a permanent franchise as long as we keep delivering this incredible quality; it seems quite obvious that Red Dead is a permanent franchise, again with the same caveat, or Borderlands, for example, and NBA and others," Zelnick added. "But not everything is going to be a permanent franchise. We can do very well even if it's not. I would like to see us grow with a couple more great franchises in the next couple years, and we're launching Evolve; we have very high hopes for that."
So, the bottom line? We very well may get both eventually. Just not yet.
Technically speaking, Deep Down wasn't actually "missing" from E3 2014, because Capcom released a short trailer for it during the event. The reason we're including the upcoming PS4-exclusive free-to-play game is that, based on reactions on Twitter, there was a perception that the game was being ignored.
A Deep Down beta was originally scheduled to begin close to the PS4's Japanese launch in February, but has now been delayed to sometime this summer. The release of the E3 trailer didn't bring any additional details about the beta--and, in fact, Capcom still isn't providing any indication as to when the final game will be released. "The development team continues to work hard engaging in intense trial and error methodology in order to find the best way to utilize PS4's potential when it comes to online games," said Capcom's Yoshinori Ono on the PlayStation Blog. "As such, I'm afraid I can't yet provide details on when the game will be released. I hope we can count on your patience and understanding as we forge ahead. Please accept my heartfelt apology for making you wait longer."
Telltale's Game of Thrones
Telltale's director of PR, Job J. Stauffer, tweeted about the game on June 7 in an effort to temper expectations for E3. The bottom line? They won't be talking about Game of Thrones until after Tales From the Borderlands kicks off.
For those asking, Game of Thrones will premiere later this year after TFTBL kicks off. More news on GoT towards the end of summer, not at E3— Job J Stauffer (@jobjstauffer) June 7, 2014
Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios announced back in April that its upcoming car-combat game Mad Max, which it will be releasing through Warner Bros., has been delayed from 2014 to 2015. No specific month was given. Much of the focus of Warner Bros.' booth at E3 was on Batman: Arkham Knight, which has also been delayed to 2015, so it seems safe to assume that we won't be seeing Mad Max until well after Rocksteady's game. Seems we can expect the game to be a focus of E3 next year.
Beyond Good & Evil 2
According to chief operating officer Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft hasn't forgotten about Beyond Good & Evil 2, but it might be a while before we see any confirmation that it's actually going to release anything. "We are not going to stop those properties," Guillemot told IGN in an interview, speaking of both Beyond Good & Evil and Prince of Persia. "We are going to work on them. The teams are really looking at what we can come [up] with. I think you will really like what you see in the future. It could take some time to make sure we are really delivering what we want."
Some news leading up to E3 gave us hope that Ubisoft might reveal more details, but ultimately, the information did little more than fuel rumors. In April, Beyond Good & Evil 2 creative director Michel Ancel revealed new concept art of Jade, the main character from the original game. Quite why he chose to do this is unclear, though it may simply have been to gauge reaction and ascertain whether gamers still have an appetite for the cult classic.
Visceral Games' Star Wars Game
Given that Star Wars: Battlefront was confirmed last year, and we're still not going to see anything concrete on that until spring 2015, it seems overly optimistic to expect anything on Electronic Arts studio Visceral Games' upcoming Star Wars adventure. The new game is being headed up by former Naughty Dog creative director Amy Hennig, and is rumored to be an open-world game, though EA has yet to provide any specific details.
EA and Star Wars franchise owner Disney signed a 10-year, multi-title deal last year that makes the Mass Effect publisher the exclusive creator of new Star Wars games, so there will be plenty of Star Wars games at future E3 events, no doubt.