VR Gets A Big Push At E3

Virtual reality is one of the bigger themes going into this year’s E3 event, with thousands of products being showcased between the likes of Oculus, Sony and other third-party publishers. With that, a number of companies hit the ground running before the show even started, with each of the big four publishers involved promising some sort of VR-related product to come out within the next year.

Let’s cover each of the events, indicating what each company has in mind:


Although Microsoft didn’t show off any new games for its HoloLens technology (or any other related VR demos for that matter), it did promise that its next forthcoming hardware, Project Scorpio, would in fact be virtual reality-compatible right from the start, as well as ready for 4K-based visual performance. The company didn’t give a specific release date, but it’s expected around holiday 2017, and is not expected to get in the way of the current performance of the Xbox One hardware.


Ubisoft made one of its upcoming VR games a highlight during its E3 panel, with the debut of multiplayer gameplay for its free-soaring game Eagle Flight. In it, birds can actually “shoot down” other birds using sonar attacks, while chasing after specific objectives on a map. Using free-range flight, players can use any given number of routes to get to these objectives, then proceed to win the match as planned. The game is set for release later this year.


Although Bethesda is slowly but surely making its way into the world of virtual reality, it’s doing so with all the right licenses on board. During its showcase on Sunday night, it enabled players to take part with demos based on franchises like Doom and Fallout 4, utilizing VR tech. Fallout is currently slated for a 2017 release, and other franchises, like Doom and Skyrim, could easily follow suit.


Finally, Sony had a lot on its plate with PlayStation VR, devoting a good chunk of its Monday night press conference to the technology. Set to release this October for $399, a number of PlayStation VR games are getting a great deal of attention, including specific demos based on the Star Wars: Battlefront, Final Fantasy 15 and Batman: Arkham franchises, as well as original titles, like Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, which will be completely compatible with both PlayStation VR and traditional controls when it releases this January.


The company noted that over 50 games are slated to release during the launch of the headset, with many more in development for arrival over the course of the next year.

So, as you can see, VR is playing a tremendous part in the show, even before it opens. Imagine how much influence the tech will have once next year’s presentations start rolling around.

CD Projekt Red Is Playing Its ‘Gwent’ Cards Just Right

Sometimes, a mini-game grows so high in popularity that it takes on a life of its own. That’s what’s happening with Gwent, a collectible card game that was featured in the highly acclaimed fantasy role-playing game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. CD Projekt Red, the development company behind The Witcher franchise, confirmed on Monday morning during Microsoft’s pre-E3 press conference that Gwent: The Witcher Card Game would become a standalone game coming to Xbox One and PC.

The collectible card game was initially a mini-game included in The Witcher 3, but its deep tactical gameplay and its fun collectibles made into a fan favorite experience of its own. The developer decided to expand upon these themes by making Gwent a fully accessible title, complete with a single-player campaign filled with challenges and opponents, as well as cross-platform multiplayer so friends can play with one another regardless if they on a PC or Xbox One.

The news of Gwent’s standalone arrival has been received well by fans, and there have already been thousands of sign-ups for the game’s official beta, with the final beta set to kick off in September. A release date hasn’t been given yet, but the game is expected to launch during this holiday season.

Gwent comes along at just the right time, and provides a unique marketing opportunity for the team at CD Projekt Red. After all, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft has proven to be a very popular spin-off for Blizzard, and it continues to be a massive draw for players. Activision’s Skylanders: Battlecast has also been well-received since its launch last month, with more add-ons expected in the months ahead.

But Gwent is its own beast, with fans across social media eager to get their hands on a “full” card-playing experience, even if that means breaking away from The Witcher 3 for a while.

One tweet pointed out how the developer went as far as to make a real-life Gwent table for its presentation at E3.

Other tweets expressing excitement over the separate release of Gwent can be found below:

There’s currently no word on whether Gwent will release for mobile devices, but given its potential, it shouldn’t be ruled out.

ESports Games Are Shaking Up E3 2016

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the place where top video game trends are showcased, and there’s no bigger buzz in gaming right now than eSports. Considering how eSports viewers take in a tremendous amount of content, with revenues expected to reach $463 million this year, it’s no surprise that companies are including eSports features in their top competitive games.

Here are a few examples of how some companies are catering to the eSports crowd at this year’s E3:

Quake Champions

Following the recent success of Doom, id Software and Bethesda wasted no time in modernizing another classic franchise with Quake Champions, which was revealed during the publisher’s pre-E3 showcase Sunday night. Right off the bat, id Software creative director, Tim Willits, confirmed that Quake was being built from the ground up with eSports potential in mind.

Its multiplayer components are largely focused on competitive play, and there are already a number of players who have proven just how accessible the game is, judging from the hands-on portion of the company’s event following the showcase. Bethesda will provide more information about the game, and news on a potential beta, in just a couple of months during its fan-oriented QuakeCon event. This includes details on the support it intends to provide for both eSports leagues and tournaments down the road.

Quake Champions doesn’t have a release date yet, but more information will be revealed over the next few months.

Injustice 2

Mortal Kombat X is highly regarded in the eSports realm, and developer Netherrealm Studios is planning to repeat that success with, Injustice 2—a fighting game that features DC Comics characters expected to release next year.

The superhero-laden brawler, which iconic characters like Superman, Batman and The Flash, will be built with eSports in mind, so players can compete on a tournament based level and utilize their skills to become better with particular characters.

Injustice 2 will release next year for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.

Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts revealed its master plan for eSports going forward, for both its mainstream sports titles and shooters like Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2. The company revealed a new structure with a trio of forthcoming event types for each of these games, including Challenger events, Premier events and EA Major events.

“EA is no stranger to the power of elite competition,” said the company’s chief competition officer Peter Moore during the company’s press conference on Sunday. “But the spectacle of eSports barely scratches the surface of competition. It’s a select few that become pro gamers, that’s why EA is embracing a new approach to competitive gaming, we want to make stars of all of our players.”

Community members will be able to host and run their own tournaments, and partners will also have the opportunity to partake in large-scale live events as well, although Moore didn’t detail any sort of schedule as of yet regarding how that would be set up. He did note, though, that there would be room for “partners from inside and outside of the gaming world.”

The company also debuted the first bout from this set-up with the Madden Championship Series, which took place during EA Play over the course of earlier this week and it turned out to be a very big draw through Twitch streaming. Although specific details as to what EA has planned next haven’t been given yet, we can expect Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1 to appeal toward pro gamers when they release this fall.

Call of Duty

Although Activision doesn’t have a booth on the E3 show floor this year, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is certainly making its presence felt, with a huge banner adorning the building outside the LA Convention Center. Furthermore, its recent gameplay trailer, showcased during Sony’s pre-E3 press conference Monday night, stirred up plenty of buzz.

Activision already has ambitious eSports plans in motion with its Call of Duty: World League, which has been in full swing since earlier this year. The championship round will take place during the company’s recently announced Call of Duty XP event, and more details on Infinite Warfare’s multiplayer are expected at that time as well.

It’s very likely that Activision will continue pushing forward with its Call of Duty-oriented eSports events, even with the slightly negative response given to its initial Infinite Warfare trailer. World League has gotten over quite well with its community, and Infinite Warfare has some promising features that should make multiplayer interesting from hereon in.

We’ll know just what Activision is up to in a few months’ time, when XP takes place. For now, Infinite Warfare is certainly picking up speed at E3, even without Activision’s presence.

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[a]listdaily Weekly: E3 Tech, Millennial Madness And Carousel Ads

This week on [a]listdaily weekly, virtual reality takes over E3, Millennials want to take it personal, beware the horrors of ad fraud and wheeeee! Carousel ads.

Whoo Whoo! All aboard the hype train! Yes, E3 is a thrill and a treat for all who come to this expo of marketing expos. And if you don’t already have tickets, don’t worry—you can always come on down and press your face against the cold, hard glass outside. It’s totally sold out. This year, mobile games stepped aside as brands toted fancy new games with virtual and augmented reality. For the first time, E3 Live offers a limited amount of non-industry ticket holders to witness the event from home, which you can . . . oh yeah. That sold out, too. 

Boom. American venture capitalist, Mary Meeker, just dropped her internet trends report and Since millennials value self-expression and diversity, and they make up 27 percent of the U.S. population, brands must shift in order to reach these consumers where they are. Meeker notes that 48 percent of millennials prefer to be contacted via the internet or social media. Which basically means brands can stop using the Yellow Pages, smoke signals, and carrier pigeons. On the other hand, Gen X still prefers telephone or electronic messaging as their primary choice of communication.

GASP! Ad fraud is big business. According to a report from Forensiq, 34 percent of the mobile inventory overall—which includes banners, interstitial, and video ads—is at risk of fraud. That may sound grim, but for the sake of perspective, it could be worse. Millions of venom-spitting reptilian overlords who cannot be killed could theoretically land on Earth and destroy us, but they haven’t, so there’s that.

Whee! Carousel ads seem to be the new display ads—only better—because they’re in-stream and engageable, gettin’ all . . . swipe-y and stuff. Swipe left, swipe right . . . It’s like Tinder, but nobody tries to kiss you.

How ‘Pokémon GO’ Is Taking On The Real World Gaming

On the second morning of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Nintendo’s Treehouse livestream gathered together key developers involved with Pokémon GO—an upcoming augmented reality mobile game that lets players explore real world locations to find, battle and capture Pokémon. The panel of speakers included Tsunekazu Ishihara, president and CEO of The Pokémon Company; Junichi Masuda, composer, designer, producer and programmer at Game Freak; Tatsuo Nomura, Niantic’s senior product manager; and Shigeru Miyamoto from Nintendo.

Four companies partnered together to make Pokémon GO a reality, and the game is currently undergoing real world field testing in Japan, US, New Zealand and Australia. Ishihara stated that he was very excited about the enthusiastic support for the game, evidenced by how many people signed up for field testing. Not bad for a game that got its start in 2013 as an April Fools’ Day joke done in collaboration with Google, called The Pokémon Challenge.

Nomura was one of the key people behind the April Fools’ Day project. He was a part of the Google Maps team in 2013, and now he’s at Niantic working on the real thing. He met with Ishihara and Niantic’s CEO John Hanke after The Pokémon Challenge was shown, and they all agreed that this was a great opportunity to bring Pokémon into the real world using the augmented reality technology used in games such as Ingress. Nomura went on to state that, with the current field testing, there are currently tens of thousands of players trying the game now, averaging about “30 pokéball throws per second.”

The game uses real world maps and location data on your phone to catch Pokémon. Players will have to explore the world and go to key locations to find specific kinds of Pokémon. For example, water Pokémon are found by the shore or bodies of water, while grass Pokémon are hidden among tall grass. Google mapping technology is being used to spread the Pokémon out, so players will have to explore past their local neighborhoods to find them all.

Ishihara noted that, because it’s the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, the testers will predominantly find the original types of Pokémon from the 1996 Red and Blue games. Featuring the original Pokémon has both a nostalgic appeal for longtime fans and sense of newness for more recent ones. More Pokémon will be added in the future.

Pokemon Go capture

Masuda did a live demonstration of capturing a Pokémon in front of an audience. Users will be able to control the spin and throw strength of the pokéball in an effort to pull off a successful capture. Additionally, throws must be timed according to a circular on-screen meter.

Of course, the developers don’t necessarily players staring at their phones while walking around. Nomura stated that Niantic wants players to take in the world around them, and not just stare at a screen. Helping to make the experience more convenient is a peripheral called Pokémon GO Plus, which Miyamoto wore a on his jacket lapel. It ties in with Pokémon GO and looks like a teardrop shaped pokéball pin that can also be placed on a wrist band. The device connects to smartphones via Bluetooth and essentially allows people to play Pokémon GO without having to look at their smartphones. The device will flash a green light and vibrate when there’s a Pokémon nearby. Capturing the Pokémon is a matter of pressing the button, which will flash a rainbow color if successful and red if not. Ishihara believes that the Pokémon GO Plus will become a must-have device when playing the game.

Then came the big question from fans: when will Pokémon GO finally come out of testing? Miyamoto surprised the everyone by responding, announcing that it will launch for both iOS and Android devices at the end of July, but did not give a specific day. However, the Pokémon GO Plus accessory—which will retail for $34.99—will not be ready at launch. Eventually, there may be connectivity between Pokémon GO and the upcoming Sun and Moon games for 3DS, and major events for fans to participate in.

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Specular Theory Exec Explains Opportunities In VR Storytelling

In a pair of firsts, YouTuber MatPat has launched MatPat’s Game Lab, which drops viewers into a live-action parkour adventure inspired by Electronic Arts’ DICE-developed Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Specular Theory worked in tandem with MatPat to create 360-degree gameplay experiences set inside Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. While Game Lab is available only to YouTube Red subscribers, the 360-degree videos are available for free.

Specular Theory has been immersed in 360-degree storytelling, having worked on projects including the Sundance hit Perspective Chapter 2: The Misdemeanor, the Jeep VR Surf Experience, and Terminator Genisys: The YouTube Chronicles 360. Specular Theory CEO and Game Lab VR series director Morris May talks about entering the 360-degree video game world in this exclusive interview.

How did you get involved with this project?

MatPat had seen some of our previous work and reached out to us to push the boundaries from both a technical and storytelling perspective on the 360 component of the series. The various first-person perspective and moving camera approaches in our previous work really attracted him, and he wanted to collaborate to explore that kind of variety in storytelling.

How does your 360 content tie into the MatPat series?

Each of the episodes follows MatPat and friends as they are thrown into real life situations based on video games to see how they perform. Each 360 companion video follows the same title and gives viewers the opportunity to be dropped into the world of the same game that MatPat has in that episode. However, the 360 episodes utilize a variety of approaches—at times using a scripted, narrative approach—to drop viewers in the middle of the action within the world of the game, and other times allowing viewers to have a front row seat to MatPat and his friends taking on the zany real-world versions of the game titles. The 360 episodes will be available for free to all viewers, while the remainder of the 2D episodes will be available only to YouTube Red subscribers.

What is 360-degree video opening up for exploration of existing game worlds?

It is a mind-blowingly exponential advancement. Viewers can be inside of the game and have the chance to explore on their own in a full 360-degree environment. They can be completely immersed and interact with the world of the game on their own cell phone, which opens it up to a massive audience.

Can you explain how you worked with Electronic Arts and DICE on this project?

The series’ executive producer, Dan Levitt, handled the coordination with the game companies, but since MatPat has such a massive following in the gaming space, we were given a lot of creative freedom with bringing the world of these game titles to life in live-action. MatPat really wanted to use the 360 experiences to allow his viewers to get a piece of the action and get a chance to take on the unique real-life game experiences that he was tackling in the series. We used a limited amount of gameplay clips for some of the episodes, but primarily re-created the game environments in live-action.

How much gameplay did you capture and how did you translate that into these shorter form experiences?

We shot over four hours of VR content for the series with many shoots involving multiple cameras, including drones and custom rigged cameras. We delivered over 45 minutes of VR footage, which was 40 terabytes of data.

Creatively, what does 360 open up for you?

Three-sixty really allows viewers to explore the space and be fully immersed in a unique environment and guided along on a journey. It’s an entirely new medium that we are navigating as the technology is continuing to develop. The possibilities are endless and it’s a really exciting time in filmmaking and storytelling.

How much interaction does the viewer have?

This particular series does now allow for as much interaction, as it was designed to be viewable on YouTube 360 and in Cardboard to allow as many viewers as possible. However, we designed the experiences to have a game-like feel with action constantly going on all around the viewer, encouraging them to explore the full space and really feel that they’re a part of the game and the adventure.

What do you see the launch of PlayStation VR and Google Daydream this fall adding to the VR ecosystem?

It is going to be game-changing and lead to a rapid mass adoption of the VR medium. All new Android phones will be equipped with Google Daydream and will allow people to get amazing VR experiences right on their phones. With PlayStation, there are already so many households with consoles, so adding a headset will be a natural upgrade for them. We are extremely excited to see how much the audience for VR content will open up with both of these launches.

What opportunities do you see for brands and sponsors of this type of 360 gameplay experiences?

VR is a dream come true for brands. It gives them the opportunity to reach a fully captivated audience that is simply not possible with any other medium. In VR, audiences can’t be on their phone or have another conversation as a distraction. So for brands, VR really allows them to create fully immersive experiences. And from a brand storytelling perspective, the participatory factor really leaves a singular lasting impression and creates memories on a much more personal level.

Gambitious Co-Founder On Why Crowdfunding Is Broken

Gambitious Digital Entertainment co-founder, Mike Wilson, is making his 22nd annual pilgrimage to E3 this year. The long-time game industry veteran is wearing two hats at the show, also serving as co-founder of Devolver Digital. Devolver will be set up in trailers in a parking lot across the street from the Los Angeles Convention Center, and is also hosting Gambitious for its meetings. Additionally, both companies are championing independent games. Wilson talks to [a]listdaily about his newest company and explains why Gambitious’ approach is best for both developers and investors in this exclusive interview.

Where did the idea for Gambitious come from?

We’ve been thinking about this for many years, even before we started funding in 2013. We started in 2012 when Obama signed the JOBS Act, funded our first game (Train Fever) in 2013, and started publishing in fall of 2014. We’ve funded 11 games to date and have released seven.

What differentiates Gambitious from Fig and other crowdfunding initiatives?

We’re not doing public-facing crowdfunding. We’re working with 10, 20, or 50 accredited investors at a time who are putting up $2,500 or more each for any given game project.

We’re slowly building out a network of accredited, or “sophisticated” (as they say in other parts of the world), new game investors. Hard Reset: Redux just became the fifth of seven titles shipped thus far to earn out in under a month, and it’s the third of those to earn out in under a week.

I feel like we’re the only ones trying to look out for these new game investors. Everyone else is trying to figure out how to get just money from the general public.

Why is your approach good for developers?

It’s too much to ask up and coming indie developers try to make a great game and also deal with a bunch of investors, not just as a community, but as partners with a legal responsibility to report and pay their dividends out according to regulations.

It’s not that they are dumb or can’t handle money, but that isn’t and shouldn’t be their focus as a small team trying to do a very hard thing in the first place.

Also, a public-facing equity crowdfunding raise requires a huge investment into legal fees (as much as $100,000 per project) and setting up all the entities and mechanisms currently required. This is an unworkable amount of money for indies making games whose total budget is under $1 million. It’s also just a waste of money versus other ways to get funding. This is part of why you see other platforms having great go for bigger raises, which also often means the developer needs to already be famous. And if they are famous, established developers and/or one working with a well-established IP, it begs the question of why they can’t just get funded from the existing “smart money” investing in games, i.e. publishers and VC’s.

We are focusing on indies who really need a path to funding, along with some support from a publisher. And for these smaller projects to make sense, the publisher has to be operating in a similarly “indie” way. These are not projects that are big enough to feed old-school overhead-intensive publishing machines.

What about companies like Fig, which focus on well-known game developers to help generate awareness and funding?

We’re not focusing on famous game developers. We feel like the indies who need this sort of help and friendly financing, also often need mentoring from a publisher. That’s a huge part of our job. It’s like we have two separate pieces of the same company. We run the business like an indie game publisher, and then another team is going out and raising the money behind each game.

Will you ever allow average people to invest in these games?

The rules came out May 16 that allows people to do that. We’re just not focusing on that. We’re letting the dust settle on that to see what happens with the other companies. As I mentioned, it’s still pretty cumbersome.

We think there are plenty of people in the world who can better afford to possibly lose money on games—the same types of people who buy stocks or mutual funds. We’d rather let other people make the mistakes in public equity crowdfunding first, to put it bluntly.

You mentioned two games haven’t made back their money yet. What are they?

Our worst case is Breach & Clear: Deadline. It’s the one-year anniversary and it’s at 35 percent return on investment. That’s pretty good as a “worst case scenario,” as it still gave you one-third of your investment back. Normally, when an investment goes bad you get nothing back. We still have four years to bundle and promote the game to get that number up to 65 percent.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re still mad about it. Devolver has a track record of not losing money on any games. And Gambitious wants to be just as successful.

What’s your company’s best success story so far?

Train Fever is up to 200 percent return and there’s still another three years to go after September.

But the biggest difference is our games are actually shipping. There are no elaborate schemes of shares being exchanged and shell companies being set up, and no sharing of equity or IP from the developer.

I don’t want 1,000 or 100 partners in a legal entity. We employ pure profit sharing. Our investors receive the exact same profit share as we do as individual investors.

Why have we seen so many high-profile games crowdfund huge amounts, only to not ship?

Everyone knows the Star Citizen story all too well. Even great developers like Double Fine blew through four times the money they raised and still didn’t finish the game on time. It’s not like they’re bad people. But you need to pay out on milestones as people achieve goals, or deadlines will never be hit. It’s also still the case where people are not raising all the money they actually need—they’re trying to raise what they think they can. And then they try to find a publisher to pay for the rest.

What’s your strategy for building franchises?

Train Fever is still selling at full price on Steam and we’re coming out with a sequel this September. When they came back for the sequel we raised that money in less than a week. We’re not into tying up studios to long-term or sequel deals. We’re trying to do what Devolver does; making it a frictionless experience that makes developers want to come back.

How are early investors liking it?

If you gave me $5,000 and I give you back $6,000 and mailbox money for five years of profit participation from the date of the original shipment, it’s not a bad deal. You earn out immediately because the publisher is the one paying out the dividends, and like pretty much any investment in entertainment, the investors get repaid first for taking the risk.

After a while, you have this catalog of 10 games, and maybe eight of those are hits and you get mailbox money out of them. Some people are doing it because they dig games, and others are just taking some money and looking at it as an investment.

What’s the involvement of Gambitious and Devolver executives in these deals?

Gambitious and Devolver are investing in each game, and several of the principles of each company are also investing in the games individually. We’re on the same side of the table to fight to get that money back to the investors because we are them, and we have same terms as they do. And obviously, we’re trying to provide a very positive experience to those new to investing in games.

What’s your latest investment?

Crush Your Enemies, which is a fast-paced, tile-based RTS from Polish developer Vile Monarch, shipping on PC and mobile on July 13 was the most recently closed investment raise, and we’ll be announcing another one next week that just closed.

Apple WWDC Keynote: Apple Pay, iOS And More

While this week is certainly busy with the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Apple is making quite waves of its own with its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this week. For those who missed it, here’s a quick wrap-up of the keynote from this week’s event:

Access To Siri For App Developers

With the utilization of Siri, app developers will now have access to better services. Considering that the service obtains about two billion requests per day, they can definitely use such technology to their advantage.

Additions To TVOS

With over 1,300 channels to its credit already and 6,000 apps, Apple continues to expand on this service with the addition of Fox Sports Go, Dish’s Sling and French TV service Molotov. A new TV remote app is also set to be introduced, making it much easier for users to navigate specific services.

Small Revamps

Conventional services like Photos, Messages and Maps are getting small upgrades, ones that make the services a little more conventional to use. Photos will resemble closer now to Google Photos in terms of usage; Messages will introduce a number of helpful tools to make messages livelier (like balloons and confetti); and Maps will provide better usage in terms of rides booked and restaurant reservations.

Apple Music Has Discover Playlist

With Discover services on Apple Music, users can now find their favorite artists with better ease, as well as set up a “discovery mix” based on their individual tastes. Daily curated mixes will also be introduced, to keep particular choices from growing stale.

Apple News Now Supports Subscriptions

Apple News, with over 2,000 publications and 60 million readers, now has a new design, as well as the ability to support subscriptions across the board, including categories like Top News and Sports.

New iOS Updates

A number of big updates are part of the latest addition to iOS, including new looks for Maps and Music, along with stronger emphasis on 3D Touch support.

The Debut of Apple Pay On the Web

Finally, Apple Pay will become much easier for consumers to use, including better TouchID Authentication and being able to pay for services through Safari.

These and a number of other great features are on the way, and Apple is likely to have more revealed as WWDC continues onward this week.

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Debut Of EA Play Event Amazes

Every year, Electronic Arts has always been a staple of the E3 show floor, standing right in the middle of the South Hall with a number of big titles for users to try out. This year, the company opted to do “its own thing,” as it were, with a private showcase held just down the street at the Novo Theater in L.A. Live: EA Play.

A few folks found that to be a curious move, considering how effective E3 has been for the publisher over the past few years. However, it would also give it a chance to shine at its own venue.

The company kicked things off Sunday with its yearly press conference, where it showed off a number of its forthcoming products, including Titanfall 2, Battlefield 1, its sports line-up and its upcoming Star Wars games, in which it has a lot on the horizon.

Following that, EA divided the action between two floors. On the main floor of the Novo, fans could partake in sessions of Battlefield 1, as well as its numerous sports titles, including FIFA 17 and NHL 17. Meanwhile, the entire fifth floor was devoted to Titanfall 2, and both its single player campaign and multiplayer.

Overall, EA Play has gone off without much of a hitch, with a 64-player Battlefield 1 tournament that drew in thousands of fans (with a little help from celebrities like Jamie Foxx and Zac Efron), along with other live broadcasted interviews and gameplay videos.

Will EA likely repeat the show next year? Perhaps, and it’ll be even better, focusing on big sports titles, as well as sequels along the lines of Mass Effect: Andromeda.

The future is bright for EA Play, and that certainly will keep the players coming.

EA Play Connects With Players Across Continents

The week of E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) is even more expansive than in years past, with Electronic Arts hosting EA Play—a three-day public event that features the publisher’s hottest games. The event kicked off on Sunday with two simultaneous keynote events in Los Angeles and London that worked in tandem to showcase upcoming titles.

The marketing impact of these press events is considerable, now that Twitch is providing streaming access to the world. Millions of people are watching the various E3 proceedings along with the full-day of shows featuring a variety of guests and the hottest games. It’s a terrific way to get lots of attention for each company’s top priorities for the fall season, and a way to get some insight on what each company is going to be focusing their marketing efforts towards for the next six months.

Previously, these events were designed exclusively for the press, retail buyers, and industry analysts to attend, and thus were oriented towards impressing those groups. The companies would rely on the journalists to communicate with the audience, though this often meant messages were often garbled or lost in the process. Now marketers can directly address the game players and make sure the message comes across as intended.

EA CEO Andrew Wilson took the stage at Sunday’s briefing to proclaim, “We’re inviting you in to play. Thousands of you will get hands-on with our games this week.” Peter Moore hosted a similar event from London at the Hammersmith Apollo Theatre, where 600 gamers were in attendance. The two events were joined live via satellite as the two hosts passed the presentation baton back-and-forth. It added some interesting energy to the event, underscoring the connection with gamers worldwide while playing to consumers at both locations.

One of the important things Wilson stressed was the strong support Electronic Arts is providing for its games, with over 300 content updates in the past year with more to come. EA wants to keep players coming back to their favorite games, even if (or especially if) there’s no new major release planned for the near future. Wilson also emphasized the focus on players, with free trials to help them discover and experience something new. To further drive the point, Wilson announced that games on EA Access and Origin Access on PC are free all week.

As you would expect, the events are focused mostly on games that are coming up for the fall, featuring the key titles Titanfall 2, Madden NFL 17, FIFA 17, Mass Effect Andromeda, and Battlefield 1.

What’s missing from this fall is a big Star Wars release, but EA wasn’t going to let the franchise pass unmentioned. Jade Raymond, GM of EA’s Motive Studios, was careful to underscore that existing Star Wars games–Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes on mobile, the Star Wars: The Old Republic PC MMORPG, and the hit Star Wars: Battlefront–are all getting new content all year long, especially this fall. Raymond also talked about upcoming Star Wars games, and EA took the unusual step of showing games from multiple studios, even where some of the games aren’t going to be appearing until 2018. It was a bold move to underscore EA’s commitment to transparency and the Star Wars brand with a variety of gameplay, from strategy to first-person shooters to RPGs and more. The message was clear: EA the publisher you turn to for Star Wars gaming.

Peter Moore used Madden NFL 17 to talk about EA’s commitment to eSports, and how the company is taking a different tack than others. “ESports are absolutely electric,” Moore said. “EA is no stranger to the power of elite competition. It’s a select few that become pro gamers. We’re embracing a unique approach to competitive gaming–we want to make competition fun and meaningful to everyone, regardless of abilities.” There will be a challenger series of events, players can host and run their own tournaments as well. “The Premier series we’ll host with partners inside and outside of the game world,” Moore promised. As a prime example, the Madden NFL 17 Championship is happening this week in LA, with eight finalists competing for $50,000. It started with a million players competing online, now narrowed down to 8. The competition will be shown on ESPN 3, with the finals on EPSN 2. In other words, EA is wisely connecting its football eSport with the football audience on TV.

“For the Madden NFL 17 Championship Series, we’re putting up $1 million in total prize money,” Moore said. “We want to reward our elite players for their efforts. There will be four EA Major events and more to be announced later.”

EA is adopting a different approach than the past in its as it moves towards a closer relationship with its audience. The most important part of the dual event was the opportunity for all attendees to go hands-on with EA games. Then there’s the massive 64-person Battlefield 1 conflict livestreamed to the world, in pure fan service. That’s just one indicator of EA’s shift towards closer involvement with its audience.

More telling are some of the other announcements made during EA’s briefing. There’s now a challenge in multiple EA games for fans to take on. Once achieved, EA will donate $1 million to five charities chosen for their focus on increasing diversity and opportunity and helping youth. EA also launched another a new program, EA Originals, which will help chosen indie developers bring innovative games to market while letting them reap all the profits. Even EA’s approach to eSports has an egalitarian ring to it, not just in celebrating pro players but creating competitions that all players can be part of. This is an Electronic Arts that’s trying hard to connect with gamers and earn their loyalty for the long term.

EA’s overall approach to E3 shows the company’s move towards putting players first. There’s no booth on the E3 show floor; instead EA Play taking place in at the Nokia venue next door to the Los Angeles Convention Center, where E3 is held. Not incidentally, there is a whole lot of streaming going on to appeal to those that can’t make it to the events.

For a while now, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson has been emphasizing the importance of moving games from a one or two-month event at retail to a brand that delivers content, engagement, and revenue 24/7/365. That was evident in Wilson’s speech, where he emphasized the over 300 content updates that Electronic Arts delivered in the past year for its games across all platforms. The company is on track to deliver even more this year. EA is committed to providing a continuing reason to engage with their game brands, in effect pushing towards providing games as a service (GaaS).

This can also be seen in the company’s more recent initiatives with Origin Access and EA Access on Xbox Live. It’s a subscription service that provides you with access to a number of EA games, and the list continues to grow. This is yet another way for people to try out EA games, and for some it may be a fine match for the way they tend to play games.

Make no mistake , EA has a strong lineup of titles coming for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, as well as mobile. What’s changed, is how EA will be creating and delivering those games and additional content for them all year long. Also changed is the way EA is reorienting itself to market and engage directly with fans, as evidenced by the move away from the E3 show floor to events open to everyone. Even EA’s eSports efforts are taking a much more inclusive path than many companies, seeking to involve players at all levels.