Who Will Win E3 2018: The Case for Ubisoft

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Xbox | Ubisoft | Nintendo | EA | Square Enix | Sony | Bethesda

This series of articles considers the best case scenario for each developing company holding a press conference.  Check back every Tuesday and Friday to find out why your favorite game company will win, as we get closer to E3 2018.  We invite you to read our other considerations by clicking the developer’s name above, as it releases.

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The Last 5 E3s

A case can be made for Ubisoft that they typically don’t have bad performances at E3.  Just look at the games they’ve debuted over the last five years at their annual showcase:

Splinter Cell: Blacklist

Watch Dogs 1 & 2

Assassin’s Creed Black Flag

Assassin’s Creed Origins

For Honor

Skull & Bones

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Steep

Both South Park games

Far Cry 4 & 5

Rainbow Six Siege

Ghost Recon: Wildlands

Beyond Good and Evil 2

The Division…followed by The Division, and finally the piece de resistance, when they showed The Division in 2015.  

It’s been 5 years of mostly brilliance from the global video game developer. While the games looked good, every solid showing had a couple of groan-worthy moments that took the air out of the room.  Like the time they had a seemingly reluctant Trey Parker and Matt Stone banter about South Park: The Fractured But Whole in 2015, or in 2016 when they didn’t have an Assassin’s Creed game to show, and couldn’t help but bring on the director of the abysmal AC movie.  It’s these snooze-inducing moments that Ubisoft will have to avoid in order to take the coveted E3 title, more on that later. Instead, let’s take a look at everything the must do.

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How They Can Win E3 2018

I believe that last year was the best performance Ubisoft ever had at an E3 Press Conference.  It was energetic, exciting, and surprising. All superlatives that previous Ubisoft showcases weren’t able to earn.  However, in 2017 they gave us quality previews for Far Cry 5, Assassin’s Creed Origins, and newcomers Skull & Bones, Beyond Good & Evil 2, and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, a preview that included an appearance by Shigeru Miyamoto.  Even that interview was interesting and fun, which isn’t something that’s usually said when describing this annual segment.

The point is, 2017 was just a fun year for Ubisoft, altogether, and from what Ubisoft has already confirmed, 2018 will be more of the same.  So far, Ubisoft has informed us that we will be getting updates for the already established For Honor game, along with 2017 stalwarts, Skull & Bones and Beyond Good & Evil 2.  Plus, they plan on showing us more for the uber mysterious VR game Transference and the pseudo Toys 2 Life Starlink: Battle for Atlas. What’s interesting is that we’ll get our first look for Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, that is if Microsoft doesn’t get their hands on it first.  Those confirmations alone are enough to excite most gamers, but Ubisoft doesn’t plan on stopping there.

Ubisoft has designs on revealing two unannounced titles and depending on which games they are could make or break their showcase.  One game we’re about 90% sure about is Splinter Cell. Even if Walmart Canada hadn’t leaked it and Bethesda all but confirming it, it’s been about 5 years since Ubisoft has delivered a Splinter Cell game.  It’s reveal is a bit of a foregone conclusion. The other title is shrouded in mystery, but like Splinter Cell, it’s supposed to be a new game from an existing franchise. Walmart Canada seems to believe it’s another Assassin’s Creed game, but that would go against Ubisoft’s own memorandum to make it a bi-annual title.  That isn’t to say it isn’t possible, but Origins was such a solid title, it just seems too early to send it to the wayside.

If it isn’t Assassin’s Creed, it really could be anything under the sun.  Personally, I’d actually be thrilled if it were a 3rd Watch Dogs game. The first game released in 2014 and had some potential, but ultimately was a let down.  The second game released in 2016 and really improved on the series. If they did a Watch Dogs 3, it would fall in line with the current bi-annual trend and could be a pop of excitement for the global developer.  

Ubisoft made great strides in 2017 and, I believe that, if they follow that established game plan 2018 could surpass it even further.  All they need to do is keep up that excitement level, deliver incredible gaming experiences, and avoid these press conference potholes.

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How They Could Lose It

While E3 2017 was the highlight from the previous five E3 Presentations, there were 3 (arguably 4) that completely missed the mark in terms of presentation.  It all comes down to the one thing you can’t have: Dead Air. For E3 Press Conferences, the equivalent to “Dead Air” are boring interviews that rarely provide any valuable information and tends to bring the room down.  

Out of all of the developers, Ubisoft is the most notorious and stubborn with this segment.  They often use it to fill time, but that’s not what gamer’s care about.

It’s one thing to make your developers the star and have them present their games, but it’s another thing to bring on people who either don’t have anything to do with a video game or don’t contribute anything more than the trailer and ask them to vamp for 10 minutes.  This isn’t the WWE, you don’t need a bathroom break match between 5-star matches to keep the audience invested and energized. These showcases are typically an hour long, so developers have to use their time wisely and present their best foot forward. Watching other people use “coach-speak” and talk about nothing for 10 minutes is something that Ubisoft definitely needs to avoid.

The other obstacle Ubisoft needs to avoid is building the public’s hopes up only for them to get dashed.  Fortunately, Ubisoft isn’t really one to disappoint with their announcements. They don’t normally have this issue and tend to make reveals memorable.  It might only be an issue THIS year, because they’ve been teasing all new games that haven’t been announced. If it’s not Splinter Cell, what other fan favorite series can they pull from?  Watch Dogs 3 aside, if the unannounced game turns out to be another Assassin’s Creed, I would be somewhat disappointed. I could see it happening, though, with a 2019 tag attached.

Meanwhile, if it is something like Just Dance 2019, Steep 2, or even Star Trek Bridge Crew 2 then this will be an utter disappointment, because these are sequels that don’t need the pomp and circumstance other established series would need.  There is a certain amount of self-awareness developers need to have when they deliver a big reveal. Ubisoft had that last year with several of their titles, even with Mario + Rabbids. That’s why there is hope that their unannounced titles will leave our jaws on the floor, but you can’t count your chickens before they hatch and you can’t assume that every unannounced title will be the one you want to see.

Also, please don’t give us another Just Dance routine.  You’re making most of the gaming world self-conscious about our dance moves.

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Final Thoughts

Ubisoft has a ton of momentum behind them after their solid E3 2017 showcase and I firmly believe that they are going to capitalize on it in 2018.  They are usually one of the only developers that delivers on promises and demos at E3 and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.

They’ve got a solid lineup of games that every gamer, whether they are a fan of Ubisoft or not, wants to see and know more about.  I believe that the main concern for most fans has to do with the “Dead Air”. The games are going to hit. They are going to present them in their best light, as they do, but if they spend too much time with the segments that cut the energy down, that is what will take most gamers out of the conference.  

After proving that they could pull this off in 2017, I have high hopes that they are going to keep up with that format and show us more games and less interviews.  If they do that, everyone will leave E3 saying that Ubisoft is the undisputed champion of E3 2018.