A carefully orchestrated plan.
At a show like E3 the major players are always looking to be the one that stands out, even if they won’t admit it. Every year, in the spirit of this, everyone wants to talk about who “won” E3. Would it be Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo that makes the big reveal that blows us all way in their opening press briefing? The almost as important second question is who lost? This year, one company clearly distinguished itself and it may not have been the one you were expecting.
Ubisoft walked into E3 this year with a plan, a very clear plan, to quitely show up wherever you happened to be looking, ready to show you something you didn’t know you wanted to see. Even when showcasing games we already knew were coming, Ubisoft impressed at every turn and here is how.
Starting with the first media briefing of the show, Ubisoft premiered the next game in the Splinter Cell series, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, with a live gameplay demo. The way it began was the kicker, for me, as the demo wasn’t introduced, the lights simply dimmed and the big screen was filled with a scene that could have been from any game; desert, guys with AK-47′s, secret agents, that sort of thing. But then you saw the target marking icons pop up above a few of the bad guys heads and you just feel the recognition wash over everyone there. While Microsoft’s focus was decidedly not games this year, Ubisoft provided one of the bright spots during their briefing.
Keep in mind that, at E3, Ubisoft does their own big press briefing, which was later in the day so they could have sat on this news but I got the feeling that it wasn’t about that for them. There was a plan afoot. During their own show, Ubisoft debuted a big new IP that they had somehow managed to keep completely secret. Watch Dogs is an open-world action game set in a near future world where everything is “on the grid”, controlled by software and monitored by the powers that be. While it’s too early to just how Watch Dogs will turn out, it certainly generated a lot of buzz at an E3 where we weren’t expecting many big revelations.
Closing out a busy day, the Sony press briefing was more lively affair than the Microsoft briefing and, though they may have overshadowed by the Last of Us Demo, Ubisoft still had a strong showing. A lot of people probably think that they know what to expect from Assassin’s Creed 3 at this point, but I’m sure that none of them figured we’d be getting a separate, PS Vita exclusive, Assassin’s Creed game. Assassin’s Creed 3 Liberation stars the series first lady assassin protagonist and will also take place in colonial U.S, only in New Orleans instead of New England. The PS Vita hasn’t had the best launch but an Assassin’s Creed game is definitely a shot in the arm, and a Vita exclusive from a big series is sure to stick in people’s minds at the end of a busy show.
The last major briefing was Nintendo, and you knew they would have a few things up their sleeve with a new console in the works but about halfway through there were likely more than a few people that thought they were at a second Ubisoft briefing. These guys took the stage to not only announce a Wii U exclusive survival horror game, ZombiU, but seven total confirmed titles for the Wii U. If you were concerned that the Wii U might not have games you were interested in, Ubisoft led the way in announcing the core titles that would be available including confirming that Assassin’s Creed 3 would be available for Nintendo’s new console.
It isn’t so much that every game Ubisoft showed at E3 2012 blew me away, it was the precise calculation with which they went about their reveals that impressed me. They played a major part almost all of the big briefings (I’m almost surprised they didn’t crash the EA briefing) and always had something to show you that you were sure to remember, for one reason or another. While the big three hardware manufacturers where all showing off new features and tech, Ubisoft were right there showing you games.