Every year, developers from around the world gather in June to showcase their most secret and anticipated projects. In the months leading up to E3, gamers witness the spectacle of influencers and industry veterans discussing the rumors of what might be, further fueling their desired announcements come to life. In the spirit of fun and excitement, E3 allows for the passion of gaming to be broadcast on a world stage and recognized for its influence on the entertainment industry.
Now that the industry is approaching the eve of E3, OnlySP is counting down the days remaining in a segment we like to call ‘12 Days of E3’. Please join OnlySP in celebrating an event that can be described as Christmas for Gamers, as we come together in anticipation for E3 2019!
Epic Games: a one-time industry darling, best known for Unreal Tournament, Gears of War, Fortnite, and the ubiquitous Unreal development engine. However, across the past six months, the company has attracted the ire of a vocal contingent of gamers who insist that its new digital storefront is predatory and anti-consumer due to exclusivity deals and rumours of spyware.
Nevertheless, indie developers and even large publishers have flocked to the Epic Games Store, some no doubt attracted by the bigger revenue cut compared to Steam and other storefronts and others because a partnership “felt completely natural and right.” The result so far is a strongly curated selection of memorable and highly promising games, including the likes of Close to the Sun, RiME, Control, Phoenix Point, and Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. However, E3 could be Epic’s greatest statement of intent to date.
Following in the footsteps of Intel and Oculus, the company is the major sponsor of the PC Gaming Show this year, suggesting that Epic views the event as a prime advertising opportunity. That surmise has precedent. One of the most eye-catching games of last year’s event was Oculus and Insomniac Games’s Stormland, while several other high-profile titles from the presentation—The Sinking City, Genesis Alpha One, Anno 1800, and Satisfactory—have since signed on for PC exclusivity with Epic.
Two possibilities exist:
Epic could use the stage to announce a swathe of new exclusive offerings, which may be drawn from the ranks of its fellow sponsors. Rebellion, for one, has already confirmed it will announce a new game at E3, while Frontier Developments, Funcom, and Paradox Interactive already have highly anticipated projects prime for poaching. This approach would make for a continuation of the practices the online community has already railed against.
On the other hand, the company could finally open the storefront up to developer submissions, allowing studios other than those directly selected by Epic to sell their games, significantly expanding its offerings.
In either case, the new storefront will become more competitive overnight, and an expanded userbase may inspire Epic to expedite those features that the community seems to be clamouring for most.
However, more interesting than what might be is what is. Oculus sponsored the PC Gaming Show last year at a time when its dominance in the VR market was in question. The HTC Vive’s profile was on the rise, and PlayStation VR was making plenty of headlines. Stormland alone may not have put Oculus back on top of the pile, but it did help gamers remember the disruptive promise of Oculus in a market where many VR offerings have become too safe to be truly exciting. The sponsorship deal, more than anything else, was a reminder that Oculus still has a stake in the game.
Epic’s backing of the show seems a little different; rather than a reminder, it seems to be a challenge. Steam has long dominated the PC gaming market simply because no competitor has been of a scale to truly be a contender. Epic, with its vast resources, established brand, long history, and backlog of goodwill, is different—or, rather, it might have been were the company able to control the narrative surrounding its store from the beginning. The company has had to fight off concerns about its relationship with Tencent and backlash against its business decisions, even though several developers and publishers have spoken positively of their sales on the store.
For Epic, E3 has to be more than just more of the same self-promotion and shiny fluff. The storefront has already won a huge number of converts (or at least individuals indifferent about their launcher) if statements by THQ Nordic and Saber Interactive are to be believed, but a cult of negativity persists. By going all in at E3 and throwing its money behind the show where it clearly has the most to gain, Epic is throwing down a gauntlet and may be making a play for those gamers who have otherwise already written off its service. Whether Epic can successfully convince those naysayers, however, is a different story entirely.
On the other hand, all this speculation could amount to nothing, and Epic may simply show up to promote the future of Fortnite.
The PC Gaming Show will take place on June 10 at 10am PT/1pm ET/6pm BST. Stay tuned for more of our 12 Days of E3 by following OnlySP on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Also, be sure to join the discussion in the community Discord server.