#E32017 highlights: Ubisoft & Sony

UBISOFT

A top-notch release slate that combines corporate and creative courage.

As far as ‘winning E3 goes’ Ubisoft stole the show this year. Its exclusive collaboration with Nintendo for the Switch, titled Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, was an instant crowd favorite. It also suggests that Nintendo may be willing to consider more collaborations in the future. Against  the background of Ubisoft’s increasingly strained relationship with Vivendi, the partnership with Nintendo is also a show of force for a company seeking to protect its creative freedom.

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Taking the extra year to develop Assassin’s Creed Origins has so far paid off, as the franchise seems back on track and well-positioned to deliver the beauty and immersive experience that made it popular in the first place. Far Cry 5 was also heavily featured at the Sony pre-event mixer and will certainly reach audiences well beyond the fanbase of the franchise. After the initial success with Eagle Flight, Ubisoft is now enlarging its exposure to VR with the announcement of Transference, which features Elijah Woods. And finally with the showing of the long-awaited sequel Beyond Good and Evil 2, Ubisoft reminded everyone of its caliber as an international games publisher.

SONY

Emphasizing exclusive content Sony continues to impress.

Without wasting too many words, Sony’s Shawn Layden steered the conversation straight to the evocative power of games and unleashed a torrent of new titles. There were no hardware announcements or price cuts (because with the $499 for the XBox One X why would they?), even though some analysts had expected to hear about the PlayStation 5. Featuring 17 games, of which 6 specifically designed for PSVR, the emphasis for Sony is clearly on AAA content.

With the announcement of the Frozen Wilds expansion for Horizon Zero Dawn the franchise is now well within reach of our initial estimates of selling 8 million units (lifetime). This puts it in Uncharted territory, one of Sony’s top-selling exclusive franchises, and for which it announced single-player DLC (roughly 10 hours of game play and priced at $40).

A  platform exclusive like Days Gone has come a long way since its initial announcement last year. Where previously the emphasis around the title was on the PlayStation’s graphics capacity and, to be honest, looked like your average zombie game, it is now clear that Days Gone offers more, including zombie bears.

The 2018 release of God of War will be the eighth installment in the series, and revolves around the father-son relationship between Kratos and Atreus, featuring an interesting parallel to the gamer demographic coming of age. Sony’s offering does seem to emphasize games that take the player out into the woods a lot: Monster Hunter World has us hunting and capturing large creatures and Final Fantasy XV has a fishing spin-off.

Finally Sony has made a clear and continued push behind VR content with Skyrim VR, Star Child, and Bravo Team, Moss, and Inpatient offering a blend of different game types for the platform.

Weaknesses, if any, were the absence of any news around Last of Us II and Death Stranding, and the lengthy time table for most of the games. Sony showed much to love but in return asked its audience to be patient.

N.B. Opinions here expressed are a work-in-progress, written on the fly in between meetings and subject to change as more information becomes available over the course of this week.