E3 has become the main battleground for EA and Ubisoft to go head-to-head over which company deserves to be second place behind Activision, thanks to Call of Duty and Skylanders. It’s a tight race every year with both companies sitting on wonderful franchises.
Direct comparisons on size and profit are a little unfair because of course EA wins hands down in those categories. However, there is little question who 2012 belonged to. Ubisoft ran circles around its rival at E3, stealing the show with a tidal wave of brilliant looking games and fun surprises.
Can anyone remember the excitement in the developers faces during Rayman Legends demonstration and not break into a toothy smile? Meanwhile, EA had Medal of Honor: Warfighter…
The momentum carried throughout the year. Ubisoft pulled in great review scores, handfuls of rewards, and a record year for profits and revenue. EA, on the other hand, was blitzed with bad press, released a handful of stinkers, and ended up having to totally restructure itself during a tumultuous year.
This left both companies in a huge predicament at E3 2013. Ubisoft had enormous expectations to live up to, and the responsibility fell on EA’s lap to turn around its fortunes. Who emerged victorious in the end?
We’ll start off with Ubisoft, who released its line-up days before the show, so we knew what to expect. We got more Splinter Cell: Blacklist, more Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, more Rayman Legends, more South Park: The Stick of Truth, more Trials, and more Watch_Dogs. All are fine games I’ll eventually be playing, but simply being solid at the year’s biggest event is not enough.
Its new announcements came from Rocksmith 2014, a digital guitar instructor which will use the power of the Kinect.
The Crew was yet another racing game at E3, which I totally forgot about until writing this editorial. Needless to say, after Forza Motorsport 5, Drive Club, Need for Speed Rivals, and Gran Tursimo 6, it didn’t have what it takes to stand out.
The big reveal of the night was Tom Clancy’s The Division, the latest in Ubisoft’s espionage action series. The brilliant recreations of New York and the Manhattan Bridge looked gorgeous, but the main draw of this game is being an open-world third-person shooter RPG. The genre is taking off in a big way on consoles, so Ubisoft needs to get in on that and fast.
It was a solid showing, and I would love to give Ubisoft the benefit of the doubt and say I’m excited for its line-up, especially Rayman Legends. However, compared to last year, when most of these games already turned up, it was lacking.
Compared to EA as well, Ubisoft was also lacking. EA came back in full force and dominated for a solid straight hour.
It started with an unexpected bang with Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, ended with a bang announcing Mirror’s Edge 2, and just when we were getting tired of watching LeBron James talk to an IGNITE engine rendition of himself, it showed off a very impressive multiplayer trailer for Battlefield 4, which made even haters like me gasp in excitement.
EA impressed not just by announcing bold new games, but it also impressed by getting me excited for games I never thought I’d be excited for. I never thought I’d want to play Plants vs Zombies in Frostbite 3, but it was one of my favorite games of the show. I never thought I’d consider picking up a Battlefield game for mutliplayer, but here it is on my wishlist.
To make it even better, EA spent very little time on “tech talk.” Every game showed off ran on one of two graphical engines, Frostbite 3 and IGNITE, so very little time was needed in introducing both.
Most importantly, EA had one genre covered that Ubisoft still has yet to grasp its hands around. EA has an RPG. Not just any RPG, but EA still has the gears cranking at BioWare to put out some amazing software, and Dragon Age: Inquisition looks downright phenomenal.
Patience is key when it comes to Dragon Age because EA doesn’t want to take the popular blame for rushing BioWare like it did with Dragon Age II. It shows a willingness to listen to concerns to give the team enough time to make a project work.
Ubisoft’s show lacked pacing, lacked a megaton hammer, and it let an annoying speaker do all the talking rather than the games themselves. It had a solid showing, but it lacked an extra kick to make it special. Beyond Good and Evil 2 or a new Prince of Persia might have been that game.
EA showed off four games I just have to play, and it did so with perfect pacing, editing and direction that would have made Martin Scorsese himself proud. The show was fantastic from beginning to end, and not since 2008 have I been this excited about an EA line-up.
At E3 2013, victory for second place goes to EA.
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