E3 Musings: Why Ubisoft Won E3

Cast your mind back over the last few years of E3. Think of all the crazy moments, the awkward failure and the Kinect avatar glitches. Think of all the ‘My Body Is Ready!’ moments and then think, what did we have this year?

With the exception of Ubisoft’s conference you had the following:

EA – Spreading a small amount over an hour, with guests

Bethesda – Hoping you don’t notice the lack of new games by making old games function in VR

Microsoft – Hosted by folk who look like they stepped off of a Top Gear tribute show and proving EXCLUSIVE videos of EXCLUSIVE games that are EXCLUSIVE.

Exclusive.

Sony – A tiny man on a huge stage with poor sound early on and a distinct lack of fun.

But Ubisoft…

Ubisoft were the heart of the party, with emphasis on heart.

When did you last see a developer crying tears of joy at seeing Miyamoto praise their game? Well, I saw it at the Ubi conf. When did you see a Rambo Panda dabbing? EXCLUSIVELY ON UBISOFT! When did you see a man who is best known for creating a man with no arms and a bunch of weird rabbit things crying because his long-awaited follow-up to Beyond Good and Evil was finally announced?

And all the time the head of the company looked on like a proud father, embracing his company’s employees with the compassion you should expect from the world of video games. An industry that was formed on the back of a need for entertainment and yet is full of stories of companies not paying staff, about explosive arguments and high-profile sackings. Titanfall only exists because of how Activision treated Infinity Ward, after all.

It was joyous and heart-warming to see such an undeniably positive showcase, but then that’s what Ubisoft do. For all the criticism of their ‘Game has towers and bases to liberate and reveal map’ cookie cutter design, they also stand at the forefront of inspiring and original gaming. Their early support of the WiiU – no matter how the console ended up – led to ZombiU, which was the most demanded title to try at the Eurogamer Expo that saw the queues swamp those of the first party Ninty ones. They provided eight titles for the launch window of the Nintendo 3DS and over the years have been instrumental in the rise of differing technology jumps.

So when I watch a boss smile at this employees with no degree of cynicism in my heart I have to applaud. Even without the frankly near-flawless run of games on their show – ignoring the weird toys to life game that I don’t know how to feel about at this point – the actual heart was there. And that is important.

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