With E3 drawing to a close it's now time to look back over the list of announced games and start adding them to the Birthday and Christmas lists. The question is will they be going on the list for this year or the next? Gamers are used to receiving plenty of news as developers show off their new baby to the world but when is it too early to be showing off to the public?
There were three large offenders this E3, they were Star Wars: Battlefront, Mass Effect and a game so early in development it's being referred to as "A Criterion Game". Another worthy note to make is that all of there three games are being developed by EA. This might lead to a conclusion that if they're showing this much so far ahead of time that they really don't have much at the moment or that they have a long term strategy in the works.
Star Wars Battlefront, currently being developed by DICE, is currently slated for a Q3 2015 release. This game was announced at the EA press conference last year and was heralded with great praise for the return of this much beloved franchise. What really gets to me is that the trailer wasn't showing us an amazing scene at Hoth or any story elements, we instead got to hear about how the production team is "visiting the Lucas films archives to capture the props" and about how they "went to movie locations to not only capture the environments but also the emotion". A game company giving updates on a game, especially one as large as Battlefront, is highly commendable as i'm sure the avid fans have been waiting for information but to have this start off EA's Press Conference seemed like they had nothing better. Granted we did see some game play being tested on the monitors of employees and some full screen footage but it just seemed like not much to show for a prime time slot. The real kicker came at the end of the trailer when the message "See more in Spring, 2015" appeared. Does this mean that this is just a teaser for a teaser? and stranger still is that we already had a teaser a year ago.
Mass Effect was given the same treatment as Star Wars Battlefront as we were treated to developers talking about the processes that they were using to start making a new Mass Effect. We were shown some concept art as well as a some 3D rendered environments but apart from that no real news. This trailer was also cut in half by the announcement that the Edmonton studio was beginning to work on a new IP with a living world, time lapses of passing days were shown on a beautiful planet but it also seems that something like this didn't need to be announced this early. No release date was mentioned for either of the projects but this early on we won't be seeing them soon.
Criterion developers spoke to us during the EA Press Conference showing off their new vehicle based IP. We are told of the company's expertise in going fast and their love of crashes with titles like Burnout Paradise to back this up and that they want to go on a brand new adventure by adding ATVs, helicopters, snowmobiles etc. to the mix. Some game play is shown as the team tests latest revisions and brain storms ways to make the game better. This shows how the studio is working to get the best game but there's still no need to be showing it at such an early state. We are told of their developmental processes, the lack of allocated desks to allow people to work wherever and whenever and how the team has been taken out to participate in the kinds of things they want to add to their games to make it the best game possible, at this point are they showing us the game or advertising their studio? No release date announced on this one either sadly but i'm sure we'll see more of it next E3.
In the past we were used to getting to see rough gameplay or a pre-rendered trailer and that has always been a good point to show off to the world what your new game looks like. Now as releases are earlier and earlier we're being shown concept art or we get to hear what kind of research a studio is putting into the new game that they're planning. It feels like games are being shown too early and this might even be that the studio involved is rushing their game to an audience for the sake of generating press. In a time where you can have a game or DLC announced and released in the same 5 minute time block at a press release these companies should work on their games to a point where the game can be shown in a more complete state before revealing it allowing the consumers to get a better idea of the game.
I want to finish this by saying by no means am I discouraging the development of these games. A new addition to the Mass Effect and Battlefront franchises would be greatly welcomed the interesting sounding new IPs just as much but there seems to be no gain in unveiling what is barely a pre-alpha to consumers and the press for us to have to then wait upwards of two years before were close to a finished product.