If there was one thing I wasn’t expecting to watch at E3, it was a talk show. Presentations filled with buzzwords, sure, but a show hosted by a seasoned live streamer behind a desk interviewing a bunch of devs on uninteresting topics wasn’t what I’d envisioned. Unfortunately, the PC gaming show was just that, except instead of Graham Norton we got awkward guests and boring conversations. It was more digestible than your average conference, and Sean Plott was a masterful host, but there wasn’t much to get excited for over the two and a half hours of drivel we were shown. It was just a confused mess, but it was almost saved by Sean’s brilliance. Almost.
I think the main problem with the show was it’s intended vision, or it’s complete lack of one. Was this a talk show, a conference or something else? It was too professional and rigid for a talk show, but it was too laid back for a conference, and the constant trailers left me more baffled than ever. There was a PC on stage, but it only got used twice, and neither of the games were particularly good showcases of what PC gaming could achieve. Then there were the awkward AMD interviews which were clearly ads, so I wasn’t sure if I was being barked at, invited into or shunned from whatever the hell I was watching. The other big problem stemmed from how the PC isn’t owned by any one company.
Just gabbin’ with Sean about No Man’s Sky…
While the big three all own consoles, PC’s aren’t owned by anyone, which is both a blessing and a curse. It means that there’s so much variety on offer, but when it comes time to showcase it all, no single company can provide all the content. The event was technically being run by PC Gamer, but it was ultimately left to each company to decide whether they’d partake. Unsurprisingly, this meant that more than a few big developers weren’t at the PC show, including Valve, Bethesda and EA. You might be saying, “Nick you ignorant tool, Valve don’t do E3, and the other two had their own shows anyway,” and I’d agree if your point was worth agreeing with.
This was an opportunity for bigger companies to come by and demonstrate that they valued PC gaming as a medium, not just as a sales afterthought. Phil Spencer from Microsoft showed up and even admitted that they had messed up when it came to PC gaming, but no other big names followed suit. The biggest I saw (and what counts as biggest might be wrong here) was Blizzard, who have always been PC-centric anyway, but at least they showed up! Problem was, all the interviews sucked because they lacked one core component: gameplay.
… Really far from the PC
Throughout the show, there was little to no gameplay demonstrated, which is exactly the same gripe I had with the EA conference. In lieu of that, there were interviews and discussions, but we have 364 days of the year to talk, so why aren’t you exhibiting your stuff at an exhibition? There were plenty of trailers though; half were cgi, and the other half was in-game footage that wasn’t gameplay, and neither of those made for compelling viewing. Throughout the whole show, I was just watching the lonely PC sitting on stage, waiting for someone to come and use it. It’s not like there wasn’t enough time to use it or anything, it just seemed that no one wanted to.
The whole show went for two and a half hours, and I was shocked at how little happened throughout the whole thing. Even now, I’m struggling to think of anything substantial that happened beyond a couple of announcements. The guy who made DayZ talked about Early Access… The CEO of AMD gave us an infomercial of smaller Radeon graphics cards… Blizzard said there’s some missions in Heroes of the Storm? It was fluff for a good two hours and half an hour of partially interesting viewing. Still, there was one golden light throughout all of the tedium and non-content, and his name was Sean Plott.
The face of entertainment
Sean Plott (aka Day) was the perfect choice for this show, and he nailed the hammer on the head so well that the robot that normally did it got recycled. Sean had a passionate interest in what was going on, he played with the crowd without being disingenuous, and he even poked fun at Bloodborne for not being on PC. When there was a technical error with one of the mics, Sean rolled with it and got nice and comfy with his guest, and it was fantastic. It explains why the organisers opted for a talk show approach when you watched Sean work his magic. He made the show bearable, but he couldn’t save it from the tedium that it was made of.
Overall, I’d call this first attempt a win and a fail. Yes, there was no one better suited to host the show than Sean, but the lack of substantial goods from the show itself left me bored and underwhelmed. Factor in that it started an hour later than scheduled, went for two and a half hours, lacked big name devs and used a format so baffling that I don’t even know how to describe it, and you can see why I wasn’t impressed. Still, this is just the first attempt, the first step to a show that’s leaner, meaner and meatier than my overclocked GPU with liquid cooling. Hopefully everyone involved learns from the event and comes back next year with something great, but this was, unfortunately, a weak entry for the PC. Grade: D