June 26, 2011, 15:30

Why Stage Demos Stole E3

By Ryan Martin, Writer

Each and every year E3 is the place where major companies go to announce their new games and/or consoles. It is when we gamers get the most excited about watching people talk for an hour and a half announcing the latest releases and hardware. For me though, it is a chance to watch demos of my most anticipated titles and see them being played in their almost finished form and this year, stage demos astounded and surprised me more than the five press conferences. With conferences from the platform holders concentrating on mostly one subject, it allows the third-party publishers to swoop in and steal the show with their rather fantastic stage demos.

I have always enjoyed watching the top games websites to see their hands on demos with upcoming games to catch a glimpse of what is in store when the game is released – something that MediaKick is growing towards rather quickly. Particular favourites of mine this year was the amazing Prey 2, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and SSX. Having never played the first Prey, I didn’t really know what to expect from the sequel, but I was pleasantly surprised when I found out it was a cross between Blade Runner and Brink, with gadgetry capable of anything. After that, there was a barrage of exciting gameplay demos from everything from Starhawk to Sonic Generations to get me excited for the coming eighteen months.

To me, stage demos provide us with a lot more information and hype than any trailer or interview can. We get to see how the game will look, play and sound in its nearly finished state. Trailers can sometimes make a game look too good as, most of the time, developers take the best parts and glue them together. We see all the little details that makes a game special but we also get an insightful commentary from the people who develop the titles. For example, the Skyrim demo not only showed us what has been improved upon since Oblivion, but Todd Howard also gave stats about what you can do in the game and how long the menu system took to build. We learn a great deal about our most anticipated games from these demonstrations.

Why Stage Demos Stole E3

And it poses the question, ‘Why aren’t all of the announcements stage demonstrations?’. It would certainly make them more enjoyable to watch especially when the pressers were as mediocre as this years showings. Granted, the platform holders showed a good deal of gameplay footage from games such as Modern Warfare 3, Uncharted 3 and Kid Icarus: Uprising but it didn’t stop the conferences boring me for the first time in a while. Even EA failed to show SSX in major detail.

It was the gaming website that came out on top with their own demos with games such as SSX, Prey 2 and Skyrim, all of which were simply amazing. Demos are something that can help a title be a huge success and get people excited for the game. They make people think, ‘I need this game’, and, if done correctly, can net the developer day one sales. Stage demos certainly mean a whole lot more than letting fans see some gameplay, they are also a great commercial. I know that personally, prior to E3, I didn’t care much for Prey 2, then my interest piqued by that amazing CG trailer showing protagonists Killian chasing down a bounty. Follow that up with the stage demo, and had to pick my jaw up from the floor after searching online retailers for a pre-order.

As much as it pains me to say it, this was the first E3 where the surprise and shock of presser announcements was gone. Maybe it was due to leaks such as the NGP’s official name or the Halo 4 announcemeny, but beyond that, I was genuinely bored (and a little confused) by the end of the platform holders’ conferences.

E3 2011, the year stage demos won.