This year, 2015, was the first year that the PC had an individual platform showcase courtesy of PC Gaming Magazine and sponsored by graphics card company AMD. Like many things at this year’s Electronic Gaming Expo, I had mixed feelings about the whole ordeal. Let’s hit the points that I didn’t like about the PC Gaming Show first. The first thing I really disliked was the format they chose for displaying PC games.
This strange talk show style interview was a poor mechanic to frame the talks about gaming. There’s a reason that talk and interview shows (particularly late night shows, as this panel chose with the classic “desk’n’couch” approach) are hosted primarily by comedians. There’s a flow to conversation that some comedians grasp more easily than other members of entertainment do. The host for the PC Gaming Show, Sean Plott, an E-sports commentator, felt awkward and not very engaging with the audience or the guests. His “interviews” were very wooden and felt very and overly rehearsed instead of natural. I constantly felt like he just asked too many questions and didn’t give some of the developers enough time to talk on their own.
The next thing I really didn’t like, was the AMD sponsorship deal. My qualm isn’t that they sponsored the PC Gaming Show, my issue is that they prevented any sort of competition from presenting their tributes and devices to the PC gaming world. AMD is only a slice in a very large pie when it comes to graphics cards, peripherals, and other PC devices. Using the sponsorship as a way to push out any competing businesses, such as NVidia/EVGA, is pretty shallow. As a company, you should have enough confidence in your products to let everyone present in a fair and open forum; such is the nature of the Electronic Gaming Expo. It would have been good to see more hardware previews, such as interesting oddities from the PC modding community, but then again, that’s also AMD competition.
On top of that, the PC Gaming Show doesn’t have any sort of “easy” web access. Through experience, the major contenders at E3, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, and pretty much everyone else, do a lot of work to quickly to set up a website and recorded video, as well as a web presence for easy access to their press conferences and information during and after the expo. The PC gaming showcase, mostly due to the inexperience with this presentation being the first year this sort of thing has ever happened for the PC landscape. But even still, there’s no central core for information. You have to rely on third-party reporting to even see the presentation, let alone boil out the information buried within. Though, it does seem strange that PC Magazine, as an actual physical publication, wouldn’t have a more robust sources for their own presentation.
Something that I did like was the massive amount of games that the PC Game Show covered. Including games that don’t have a console chained to them. The ones that you rarely get a chance to really see at an Expo like this. In a way, I’m a little saddened that Steam doesn’t do this at E3 since Steam is so prominent for PC game distribution. Even for the games that have already been presented in other talks during other presentations (Microsoft, EA, and the like), this forum allowed for a more in-depth explanation of the games shown than what you got in the brief glimpses in previous presentations. Though, I do wish that a little bit more research was done by the host on some games to improve some of the questions and elaborate on a lot of his overly simplified answers.
I won’t spend a lot of time on all of the games, as the number of them that the PC Gaming Show covered was pretty staggering. I will include the playlist from PC Gaming Magazine that shows all the studio interviews.
One thing that surprised me was that Blizzard Entertainment Studios made an appearance on the PC Gaming Show to talk about some of the things Blizzard has in store. Usually, Blizzard doesn’t show their wares in a large presentation at E3. Most of their big releases are done during Blizzard’s proprietary convention, Blizzcon.
We even got a lot of information from the interview about Heroes of the Storm and Star Craft. They talked about the current development for Heroes of the Storm, which is currently in its first expansion phase, dubbed The Eternal Conflict. In the new expansion they are unveiling several new characters, one of which — The Butcher — launched with the expansion earlier this month. The next will be The Skeleton King, Leoric and following Leoric will be the monk (So excited for monk, as that’s my go-to main in Diablo III). The new information that we gained was about the Monk is very interesting indeed. Apparently his abilities and moves are not pre-set like all the other characters. Instead, you use his upgrades and leveling system to choose your abilities. That way you can choose how he plays as the game goes on. Will he focus healing? Will he focus damage? I am a little sad that they aren’t including the alternate gender looks for their Diablo III player character choices, since the female monk looks quite spectacular, at least as a skin option.
As Blizzard talked about Star Craft II, the new expansion Legacy of the Void, and ending the long 17-year story that they started with the first Star Craft. They announced that later this month in July that they are going use a series of missions to link the last expansion, Heart of the Swarm, to the next and that the missions will be available for pre-purchase with Legacy of the Void. Those missions will be available for everyone, regardless if you own Star Craft II or not, however, pre-purchasing Legacy of the Void gives you early access to that content before everyone else.
However, I think one of the biggest news drops of the PC Gaming Show is that the highly anticipated game, No Man’s Sky, is going to be for both PS4 and PC. All hail the PC Master Race!
My final thoughts on the PC Gaming Show are that for future E3s, the only direction it has to go is up. The two and a half hour length was really good and it did chug through a great deal of good gaming information. There were a lot of studios of all sizes presented, not just the massive heavyweights, which were pretty fantastic, but the smaller indie studios as well. The vetting must have been quite difficult.
The format of the show itself needs a good deal of work. The stage itself was a little bit too small, yet overly decorated. Having larger (or just multiple) projection screens would be much more beneficial than “late night talk show” style background set pieces. The interview process needs to be worked on to become more fluid and dynamic. I think it would be more beneficial to have someone that is more in the business of making games, a designer themselves, asking questions that it would be an E-Sports commentator.
Many of the questions asked were not as informative or deeply probing as I would have liked. Also, some of the questions asked to studios and designers need to be better researched and thought of ahead of time. Another thing is that there really needs to be more outreach to companies that deliver hardware for the PC verse, including graphics cards, processors, displays, and motherboards as they relate to gaming. Letting a hardware sponsor use that sponsorship to deny competition is a terrible way to go about representing the world of PC gaming. Although the move is literally representative of the actual cut-throat market practices these hardware makers participate in, which is toxic to consumers as a whole.
The future is bright for the PC world at E3, even if opening the doors were a little difficult.