While E3 has typically been a spectacle its shine had seemed to fade. Over the past few years I’d argued that E3 contained few noteworthy announcements, even if one were to look at it through the lens and perspective of a console gamer — the demographic the convention has historically focused on.
The convention seemed destined for decreasing relevancy with each passing year when it came to consoles and never had much to begin with as far as PC gaming was concerned. 2015 proved at least part of that theory wrong, though that pattern did exist this year was different; both in that it had multiple announcements of note and it seemed as though many of those announcements related to the PC gaming audience.
In fact, I feel one can argue with some degree of comfort that Microsoft won E3 but not because of Xbox One, distinctly because of Windows.
Why? Well for the first time ever there was a PC conference at E3 but it actually wasn’t the highlight of the show, more on that later. In another first, Bethesda held an E3 press conference, which may as well have been a PC gaming conference. Bethesda used their conference to show some heavy hitters from PC centric franchises like Fallout 4 and DOOM, as well as games like Dishonored 2 and two F2P games, Elder Scrolls Legends (Bethesda’s apparent response to Blizzard’s Hearthstone) and BattleCry. The entire presentation was based around PC.
Bethesda’s announcements, though phenomenal, weren’t what made me think about writing this article. It’s not particularly surprising that Bethesda, publisher of Fallout 3, Skyrim and Wolfenstein: The New Order might be working on games that appeal to the PC audience.
No, my inspiration is Sony and Microsoft’s presence at E3. Sony’s presentation was phenomenal, with a strong line-up for PS4, titles like The Last Guardian, Uncharted 4, Shenmue III, Street Fighter V, Final Fantasy VII and No Man’s Sky. I guess a lot of people liked Horizon too but having played most of the Killzone games, I don’t think Guerilla Games can deliver, so I don’t really care about it…
Regardless you might have noticed, with the exception of The Last Guardian and Uncharted 4, those games are coming to PC and in some cases not Xbox One. Over half of the major games at Sony’s press conference are on their way to Windows.
While Square Enix’s press conference lacked official announcements for PC releases of titles like Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy XV it also included games popular on PC like Just Cause 3, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and timed exclusive, Rise of the Tomb Raider.
Microsoft’s press conference was a lot less exciting for me than Sony’s but at this point it seems like every game they announce they are publishing for Xbox One has the potential to come out on PC, eventually. It’s worth looking at some of what happened on their stage: Halo 5, ReCore (from Keiji Inafune and Armature Studio), Forza 5, Sea of Thieves (from Rare), Gears of War 4 and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (a remake of the first game), as well as Cuphead and Fable Legends (both already announced for PC).
Come time for the PC conference featuring the likes of Creative Assembly’s Total War: Warhammer, Pillars of Eternity: The White March, new AMD hardware and the announcement that No Man’s Sky will release day and date on PC with the PS4 launch. Microsoft’s Phil Spencer proceeds to take the stage and continues to demonstrate my point by announcing that Killer Instinct is coming to Windows and so is Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, furthermore, they drop hints regarding Gears of War 4 and on twitter, Master Chief Collection.
It seems PC is no longer the ideal home for multi-platform titles solely because they play and look better on a gaming rig but also because if things keep going the way they are going, PC will be the only platform which has all of these titles in one place. Namco’s Tales of Zestiria is coming to PS4 and PC, Ninja Theory’s HellBlade is coming to PS4 and PC, etc. etc. etc.
In some cases it’s market forces, the developer doesn’t suspect there’s demand on X1 vs. PS4 and PC. However, in others it’s deals cut with first party platform holders. Those particularly interest me.
In Sony and Microsoft’s attempts at 1-upping each other in the console war they don’t seem to care whether a game ends up on PC as well as their own gaming platform. They just don’t want it on the competitor’s platform or in the case of Sony, specifically one of two of their competitor’s platforms. In the war of console exclusives, PC gamers win.
See you next E3.