C'mon, Show Me Some Fight, EA!
The chemistry for a good press conference remains a tricky formula for corporate entities to figure out. There’s a reason people measure the power players’ presentations against each other during every E3. It’s not just having good product; it’s also about presenting it well. By that measure, Electronic Arts’ initial E3 presentation fell way flat.
Normally, a stripped-down, lo-fi approach like the one that EA employed comes off as refreshing when compared to the sound and fury of so much other game industry hype. No fancy lighting, no dry ice; just developers and the games. Should be exactly what I want, right? But, the run-of-show felt jerky and uneven with abrupt sequencing and meandering, overly scripted remarks.
The Dante’s Inferno trailer opened things up, teeming with flashy action and macabre religious imagery but the heart of the game didn’t sing out to me. It was bafflingly followed by EA’s girl games, including the shamelessly exploitative Charm Girls Club Club, which looks to be a collection of embarrassing gender clichés made playable. Yes, games like Dragon Age Origins, The Saboteur and Star Wars: The Old Republic showed up with all-new trailers and/or live demos but EA’s press conference felt like a dry, by-the-numbers walkthrough of their publishing slate.
The only exception to the “meh” vibe of the proceedings came when Tim Schaefer talked about Brutal Legend. The new details he revealed–voicework by metal deities Rob Halford, Lemmy Kilmeister and Ozzy Osbourne–weren’t necessarily earth-shattering, but the enthusiasm he displayed made all the difference.
Overall, I left EA’s event feeling excited about certain individual games but not entirely bullish for the company overall. Cognitively, I know that EA’s more supportive of original ideas than ever before and that it’s partnered with developers whose efforts I’ve enjoyed. But, emotionally, the hour or so I spent in the Orpheum theatre didn’t move the needle much in terms of excitement. Maybe hands-on time with their games will change that. But a good press E3 conference should send you running to a company’s booth, EA’s dog-and-pony show failed to do that.