A year ago, I did a pretty extensive analysis of the media coverage around E3. Well, I have done it again, and it now benefits from the added experience of data tracking for the past 12 months.

As usual, if you are not familiar with the way the data is collected, I invite you to read the blog post on the topic. For the purpose of this article, I have only looked at the data from articles published during the week of E3 (from Sunday to Saturday).

Last disclaimer: of all the games that were featured in the main press conference, we have one that is problematic to track with our current tools and which has been excluded from all the data below: Just Cause 3. Just keep this in mind, we haven’t ignored it, it is just a slightly problematic game for us at the moment.



To get started, I wanted to get advantage of some information I didn’t have last year: the data from the previous year.

Comparing the coverage year-on-year is an important indicator, one I wanted to check first. It is important to note that the number of media we properly track is constantly evolving – some websites die, some news ones emerge, and sometimes the websites break the way we track them, so the system for tracking articles is consistently improved upon. Overall, I think the pure volume of media we track is increasing overtime, but it is a rather slow increase.

E3 - Platforms in the media - number of articles

In terms of number of articles, we can see a decline for both Sony and Nintendo, while Microsoft has a significant increase in the media coverage. This might come from a stronger line up on Microsoft’s part or weaker showing from their competitors. We shall see later, but it might also come from a more clever selection of the multiformat titles featured for the respective conferences (well, between Sony and Microsoft as Nintendo is not invited to play that game).

* The following graph requires some pre-explanation. In order to measure the magnitude of an article, with have created a formula based on the websites’ Alexa ranking to give their articles different “weight”. The more popular the website, the more weight we give to their article. This value is called Reach in our tools and range from 0.1 to 10. For example, currently, Eurogamer.net has a reach of 10, Gamasutra.com has a reach of 9, MondesPersistants.com has a reach of 2. So what you see below, is a chart of the total reach of all the articles showed above. We refresh the reach values constantly.

E3 - Platforms in the media - Total Reach

The graph shows an interesting pattern. It shows that the media coverage might have reduced in volume, but the media covering the event have grown. It could be the websites have a better penetration than last year, or it could be more general interest media (that tend to have a much better reach) are taking a bigger interest in the video games news.

It also shows this year wasn’t a Nintendo year, hardly maintaining its reach from last year when both Microsoft and Sony expanded.

Looking more at the specific platforms more specifically:

E3 2015 - Platforms - number of articles

Leading the pack, the Playstation 4 has roughly the same volume of articles as last year. Xbox One saw a 25% increase in the number of articles mentioning it. The Wii U, the PS3 and the Xbox 360 are all seeing a decline. That’s understandable for the two “old gen” machines, but more concerning for Nintendo.

On the front of the new technology, Oculus Rift (which had its own media conference the week before), Morpheus and Hololens are all holding up nicely in the same range.

I added StarVR, newcomer to the VR scene, as they had just announced their existence and had a presence at E3. With 264 articles, and considering their lower profile, I think this is a good performance.


I have kept things a bit simpler this year and avoided looking at the games as mentioned during the console makers’ conferences. They tend to bleed over the conference of the publishers and not provide much insight. I am going to experiment with the publishers conferences instead – especially as this year two new companies are trying themselves at this perilous exercise with Bethesda and Square Enix joining EA and Ubisoft.

But, first, just looking at all the games we track, here are the top 15 games the most mentioned during E3:

E3 2015 - Top 15 Games

First thing to mention, all the games making the top 15 were featured during one or more of the media conference.

Second thing to mention, FALLOUT 4!!! I have meant to write an article on the media coverage the announcement for the game had but couldn’t make it happen pre-E3. From the current research I made for that article, Fallout 4 announcement is the most covered game announcement since we track these data. By a large margin. But even with such a strong sign of the franchise power, I didn’t expect Fallout 4 to dominate by that much, especially after the storm of coverage that FF7 and Shenmue created.

Bethesda had a brilliant timing and this helps a lot for their presence in that chart (Fallout 4; DOOM; Dishonored 2). By going first on the Sunday, with journalists all already present in LA and with nothing to do for a whole news cycle but write about their games, Bethesda snatched a great spot. Fallout also got double featured, at the Bethesda event as well as the Microsoft briefing.

Sony, despite losing ground to Microsoft year-on-year, still has the knack to bring topics that make the buzz going: Final Fantasy 7; Shenmue on Kickstarter; The Last Guardian. They certainly won’t be able to use a similar trick for next year – unless they can convince Ubisoft to announce Beyond Good and Evil 2 at their press conference that is…

Comparing the publishers’ conferences

E3 2015 - Publishers compared

[click to enlarge]

Looking at publishers one by one, Electronic Arts looks a bit underwhelming. Arguably, Battlefront did very well, considering how loved the franchise is (the movies and the games), it is a bit surprising it didn’t perform even better. It didn’t pass on the coverage Battlefield Hardline received the previous year, a surprising fact. Mirror’s Edge coming as the 2nd game of the publisher is more surprising. While critically acclaimed, Mirror’s Edge wasn’t a big hit. Few details were available ahead of the show (and seemingly not in a controlled fashion that might have compromised the potential) possibly making it a hot topic for journalists on site last week. Interestingly, FIFA 16 has about 20% fewer articles this E3 than what FIFA 15 had last year. Pelé didn’t make up for it.

Bethesda is the clear “winner” this year. They didn’t have many games at the show, but they got the interest of the media. While Fallout and DOOM are strong and well established franchises that haven’t been seen in a while, Dishonored 2 has done very well for itself. For the second title of a new IP, it received 50% more coverage than this year’s Assassin’s Creed. Quite the performance. The other surprise is Fallout Shelter. While Fallout is obviously a strong brand, mobile games are generally not as well covered as PC/Console titles by a very significant margin. Fallout Shelter is not only the 4th Bethesda most talked about game (coming before The Elder Scrolls titles as well as Battlecry), but it received coverage comparable to Ubisoft’s key titles. My theory is that it benefitted from a number of things: the Fallout brand; the 1st game on mobile for Bethesda; being available “right now”; the excellent Bethesda timing mentioned earlier. If you are a journalist in LA on the Sunday before E3, waiting for the big event to start the following day, why not download this now to give it a spin?

I have already mentioned Ubisoft twice in this section, not in a very positive manner. What happened? To be honest, I like Ubisoft’s conferences. But maybe the formula is a bit too established? The Division‘s very decent performance is the saving grace, and a surprising one to me: this is not the first time the game is presented at E3. But it managed to garner more coverage than last year (about 10% more). Possibly, the fact it got featured during 2 of the conferences helped significantly? I imagine the game was playable on the show floor and that, along with a release date, was a contributing factor. Rainbow 6 Siege was also present at last year E3, and it also received more coverage this time around. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is the disappointing element of the Ubisoft line up. Assassin’s Creed Unity had about 2,300 articles during last year show – compared to this, Syndicate doesn’t even reach the 1,000 articles threshold. I found the trailer quite compelling, I suspect something different happening in the strategy for the game this time around: looking at the daily data for the two games, it is obvious there was significantly more coverage on the days after the conference for Unity than for Syndicate. Overall, a weak media presence, especially considering that last year, Ubisoft had Assassin’s Creed Unity as the most covered game of E3 and Far Cry 4 as the 3rd most covered game of E3.

To conclude this section, Square Enix returned as a publisher hosting a conference. It wasn’t an easy ride for them – they had to postpone their conference after realizing they would collide with Nintendo’s; and the conference itself was… let’s say there is a huge margin for them to improve for next year. But beyond those considerations, the numbers are showing up. Even if you are ready to consider the Final Fantasy VII as a unique anomaly (how often will you be able to reboot one of the most well-loved games in the world?), the Hitman announcement has been very well received (arguably, I think the Deus Ex announcement in April was a better announcement, but that will be for its own case study). Deus Ex Mankind Divided did very well. It was supported massively by the 20 minutes demo on the show floor – a video of which was shared later in the week, leading to a lot of additional coverage for the game. Tomb Raider is getting a very decent amount of coverage, but maybe not to the extent I would have expected for the franchise. Overall, Square Enix did incredibly well (and that’s without being able to properly track Just Cause 3). Not sure how much more coverage they got through this though – a lot of their coverage was supported by console makers conferences (FF7 with Sony and Tomb Raider with Microsoft).


It is fascinating to see the two publishers that aren’t traditionally seen hosting an E3 conference performing so well in comparison to EA and Ubisoft. I am pretty sure the devil is in the details, and the fact they elected to have a conference this year of all years was also driven by the strength of their announcements. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t have predicted such an outcome.


Mobile titles

This segment is a bit of a stretch as they aren’t many mobile titles that are part of the E3 line-ups, but it is the opportunity for me to make a point that I already discussing on the Goat Simulator case study.

E3 2015 - Mobile titles - number of articles

A quick overview of the games, from the publicly available information:

Fallout Shelter (Bethesda) – a management game, set in the Fallout universe, revealed at the conference and available to all at the same time.

The Elder Scrolls Legends (Bethesda) – a CCG set in Tamriel, the universe of The Elder Scrolls series. Revealed at the conference, it will be available on iPad and PC but no release date for now.

Lara Croft Go (Square Enix) – a turn-based puzzle adventure game, based on the Tomb Raider franchise. Announced at the conference, nothing specific on devices required and no release date announced yet.

Minions Paradise (EA) – a management game, set in the Despicable Me universe. I am a bit confused on the whole announcement, trying to do some quick fact checks, it seems the app is already on the different stores, since end of April, but the conference presented it as an upcoming game, the host even stating “later this year”. So, go figure. Not sure it would have made a massive difference for the media present.

Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes (EA) – a CCG set in the Star Wars universe. Announced at the EA conference, no release dates and no devices specified.

Kingdom Hearts Unchained Key (Square Enix) – an adventure game (I think) set in the Kingdom Hearts universe (now, that’s the easy way out for me to avoid explaining that setting). Announced at the Square Enix press conference, with no release date.


Here are my takeaways (based on a very small sample, so it might not be worth much):

  • I don’t understand how the Elder Scrolls CCG got so well covered. It might be the brand; it might be the fact it was announced as coming to PC; it might be because Sunday was a pretty boring day in LA.
  • Minions Paradise had a whole part of the EA conference presentation dedicated to itself. With a trailer followed by a gameplay demo. Nobody cared. Planning your communication for your mobile title like a console or a PC game seems like a bad idea.
  • But not as bad an idea as just announcing “a Star Wars CCG with all the characters of the franchise you love”. I don’t think you can make it sound more generic and bland. At least, the Elder Scrolls CCG had a trailer of sort.
  • Lara Croft Go was very well covered all things considered. I suspect Hitman Go and the relatively good feedback it received helped, along with a peek at the art direction and the game style.
  • Nobody cared about Kingdom Hearts Unchained Key, despite providing a (cryptic, I admit) gameplay video.
  • Announcing your mobile game as it becomes available seems like a good idea. The brand is a multiplier if you have one.


Non-AAA titles

Finally, I wanted to also provide a sample of smaller titles, across the board from the games presented at E3, to provide some benchmark materials beyond the big titles. Here is the selection with some context:

American Truck Simulator (Excalibur Publishing) – announced during the PC games conference. A simulator where you drive trucks in America.

Beyond Eyes (Team17) – announced during the Xbox conference and featured during the PC games conference. A game where you play as a blind girl named Rae in search for her missing cat.

Crossing Souls (Devolver) – featured during the Sony conference. An action-adventure game in pixel art and with a goonies vibe to it.

Cuphead (Studio MDHR) – featured during the Xbox conference (and revealed last year IIRC). A run and gun Platform game drawn in the style of 1930s cartoons. Also, my personal favourite concept (along with SUPERHOT).

Mother Russia Bleeds (Devolver) – featured during the Sony conference. An ultra violent Beat ‘Em Up game set in an alternate 1980s USSR.

No Man’s Sky (Hello games) – featured during the Sony conference and during the PC games conference. A science-fiction game set in an infinite procedurally generated galaxy.

Unravel (EA) – announced during the EA press conference. A physically based platformer with a character made of yarn.

Vampyr (Focus Interactive) – not featured during any of the high profile conference but presented during the show.  An Action RPG set in early 20th Century England.

With the selection I tried to have games with different profiles, that were presented through different medium during the event and with interesting comparison points.

E3 2015 - Non AAA titles - number of articles


Crossing Souls and Mother Russia Bleeds are both published by Devolver, they both got the same visibility during the Sony press conference and they were both hands on at the show (from what I could gather). Mother Russia Bleeds also released a trailer later in the week. Ignoring the media that trailer generated, Mother Russia was still getting more media coverage than Crossing Souls. The more immediately understandable gameplay, and the very graphic violence possibly making it an easier story to relay.

Cuphead has received a lot of coverage, thanks to its very unique art direction. Considering that Beyond Eyes was featured at a similar level at the Xbox conference, and was featured again at the PC conference, Cuphead has been resonating better with the media (and makes for very shareable gifs).

No Man’s Sky and Unravel are two games that have been incredibly well covered, while being outside of the AAA norm. No Man’s Sky has been announced in December 2013 and was already featured at E3 2014 (at the Sony conference). Coverage this year has progressed from last year (about 200 more articles). Unravel on the other hand is one of EA’s rare venture into games outside of the AAA formula, and with its reveal garnered almost as much coverage as FIFA 16. What made those two games perform so well? With No Man’s Sky, there is no doubt since its announcement that there is a strong following for the game and media is following suit. The details are quite rare and the E3 demo, while short, illustrated elements of the game never shown before. Unravel on the other hand was an announcement (more case studies on those to come), garnering extra attention thanks to this, and the incredibly emotional designer that presented the character on stage (a real doll made out of yarn) probably resonated well with the audience, while being at odds with the usually dry and corporate image that people have of EA.

Vampyr  finally is very interesting. For not being featured at any of the conference, this game made by Remember Me and Life is Strange developer Don’t Nod, was relatively well covered with its presence at E3, illustrating that the press conference are not necessarily the end all solution for a decent media presence from your E3 show.


Closing words

I have tried to keep the size of the article under a manageable size. There are more that could be dug from the data gathered (and I might do some follow ups), but I hope this gives a good view of last week’s E3 and the media outcome from the different announcements.

There is no doubt in my mind that Bethesda is the clear “winner” of this E3. They brilliantly managed the event (from a media presence perspective at least) and I will be very curious to see next year who will try to get the Sunday conference spot. Prior to the event, I was very skeptical about Bethesda decision to do a conference at E3. Those conferences are expensive to set up and a massive burden on your teams to organise properly. I also tend to question the wisdom to share the limelight with your competition during the same week. Sony’s Playstation Experience was a great illustration of how running your own media event could benefit you in a great (better?) way than a shared global event. With Bethesda running Quakecon, I was thinking they would be diluting their effort in an event where it would difficult for them to shine. I was wrong – they did great. Which makes me wonder if the others were not wrong in sharing their audience with them this time around.


I will leave you with this comic from @TheMeatly, illustrating nicely those concluding thoughts:


In a recent article on gamesindustry.biz, Jurie Horneman mentioned a notion I have been discussing on and off when talking (mostly with students) about monetization and business models. That notion is form factor and its role in the process of building a game.

This goes beyond the way you monetize a game, but as this is the core topic I am usually addressing, they are often associated in my past lectures on the topic.

Before Jurie’s article, I had been contemplating putting down a blog post on this topic and its role in the process of building a game. With his article on play context out, I think this is as good a time as any to actually do this.

I’ll try to keep this concise, though might expand on the below some time in the future.

What is the Form Factor?

In the hardware space, the form factor is the shape of a device and what that shape is trying to convey to the users. It can be how the device will be used (one hand versus two hands) or how it will be perceived (luxurious or affordable).

The term is frequently used in the mobile sector to compare different devices – the fact that the shape of the object has a direct impact on usage makes it a core element of their design: you hold it your hand after all, and both input and display are combined.

The notion I am referring to is a bit of an abuse of the term in that sense, but it has felt like the right term when I first used it, and has grown on me since, so I hope you will allow me this xxx to me.

The form factor I am referring to is not specific to a device, but a wider notion across different type of designs. Where game making is concerned, I consider that more or less all touchscreen mobile phones share the same form factor, and the same holds true for all tablets.

But it also goes beyond the physical characteristics of the device and includes what are the input mechanisms, where you sit in the real world when you play the game. The obvious game platforms we can distinguish here are consoles (in the couch with a pad) and PCs (at a desk, with mouse and keyboards). Those would be two fundamentally form factors that would lead to different game design decisions.

But to make it complete on the notion, I need to add a third layer here as well: the software environment. That’s really needed to account for PCs, but there might be other use cases I haven’t thought of. So, in the same way the user behaviour and expectations on a game experience will vary based on the device the player is playing on, the same holds true on whether they play a game from a client on the desktop, or in a browser, or in a browser on Facebook. Playing a game in a browser puts the player in an environment prone to distraction. Many people run live social channels on that same browser – as you play that game you will more than likely see notifications taking you in and out of your game experience. The perception of the value of the game is also going to be different if it runs in a browser or as an independent client. Facebook is just that extra layer on top of the browser, making friends interactions easier, but distractions also more numerous. It dramatically change the game experience.

I am not shoe-horning an extra level – the usage pattern differences are the same and it belongs to that Form Factor notion. And I have a great example illustrating all those principles very elegantly:




Supercell, makers of Hay Day, Clash of Clans and Boom Beach is (rightfully) seen as the epitome of the successful mobile developer. They have been valued at over $3bn and have run ads during the Superbowl, but what do they have to do with form factor and video games?

I am a big believer in understanding companies through their history and what is in their DNA. To me Supercell is the epitome of a business built around the understanding of form factors and video games.

So, let’s go back in time a bit. Diane and I met Ilkka Paananen for the first time in 2011, in the early days of Supercell. At the time, Ilkka was presenting Supercell as “the next generation’s Bigpoint”. The company strategy was to build very high production value browser based games, trying to replicate Bigpoint success story, still on the browser, but with high quality, real-time, 3d looking games.

At the time, I was very convinced with the validity of the idea. There was a lot of discussion about 3D in the browser, Unity was on the rise making this easier, and you could do a lot of things with flash (which was Supercell’s approach) that looked 3D and polished. Plus there was this feeling that browser based games were ready for real time gameplay.

Supercell’s very first game was Gunshine. Imagine a diablo-like game, real time, top down 3D, set in a post-apocalyptic world, running in flash and our browser.

Or have a look at the trailer:



The game was incredibly polished and smooth for a flash game. The production value was through the roof, the code behind was incredibly robust (never seen a flash game that complex run that smoothly), the gameplay was decent with a few genuine nuggets of brilliance here and there. And a commercial failure.

And it wasn’t a matter of a bad launch and Supercell moving on. The launch failed, then the re-launch (with much improved onboarding, and reworked gameplay) failed, and the re-branded launch (under the much easier to remember and much more explicit title Zombie Online) failed.


And they went back to the drawing board. The core concept didn’t change, but they shifted the interpretation of it. They still went to build the “next generation’s Bigpoint”, but rather than looking at what the current browser could do that the old one couldn’t, they went to what is essentially the next generation’s equivalent platform: the tablet.

Not the mobile phone, the tablet. The early days of Supercell after that pivot was very very focused on game for tablets. All their marketing and communication was focused on the fact that their games were iPad games, not mobile games.

The other thing that changed was instead to try to graduate “browser games” to “proper games”, taking a 3D real time Hack & Slash game to the browser. Supercell went to take “browser games” to the new casual ultra accessible platform. Hayday is Farmville. Clash of Clans is Travian. They are very different executions of those games (especially Clash of Clans from Travian), but they are the same core games. And the same core games properly executed for the form factor of the tablet: the real estate of the screen is really optimised for a tablet; the orientation is landscape rather than portrait.




But those games also benefitted from that tablet-first approach from the fact that players play differently on those devices. The better battery life means longer game sessions. The perceived value of the games played on a larger screen (compared to phones) makes the payment process more acceptable.

Had Supercell used a mobile-first approach, which at the time was much more the norm, I believed they would not have had the same success.

They have now transitioned from that position, and the market has evolved as well. What was considered high production value back then is not the same; the acceptance of the Free-to-Play model has grown significantly over the years; and those aspects are part of that notion of the form factor: users expectations and perception related to the devices and platforms they use need to be part of the design process of the games.


Another anecdote to close this example section, a few years back, Diane did a mission for a company running a game in a browser. During the mission, they extended the game to mobile as well. The game was cross platform between its iOS version and its browser version. This was the exact same game, with mostly the same audience (at the time). They suddenly monetized better. From one version to another, users felt that now, the game was 1/ worthy of their investment; 2/ said investment was way easier to perform through the App Store in-app purchases. Payment integration, as part of the user experience, is part of the form factor considerations.


Concluding thoughts

I could write a lot about designing game for the form factor, there is a lot to say. I will leave you with a few thoughts on platforms beyond the mobile/PC/Consoles triptych, and how we need to integrate their form factor when designing games for them:

  • Coin-op. How much of the design of those games were based on the fact that you were playing the game in a social environment; you needed short sessions, that were fulfilling but would leave you with a will to get more. How would you design a coin-op game, in 2015?
  • So many things we don’t know yet on how games in VR will be played. Session length for instance? There are a lot discussion around making session short, but do we really know. Input devices? Valve and Sony have ones, but are they ideal, what do they imply when they haven’t been used them by large groups? Price points? If there is some truth in the idea that the smaller the screen, the cheaper people expect the game to be, would that mean that VR games could be accepted at a higher price point?
  • Smart watches. What is a good game experience with those? Will they be relegated to notifications from your mobile games, or can they build their own genres of games?

While I missed the traditional January window to do a “Year in Review” – I thought I should do one as the information should still have value. As usual, I encourage you to check the previous blog post explaining how the monitoring tool works. This time though, I have a couple of things to further add. First, there was a lot that has been added to the tool in February last year. Most AAA games and key platforms were already properly tracked (and had been for a few months prior) so I don’t think it should massively impact what I am going to share today.

[Update] Why the hell are the Nintendo consoles missing? Short version: I didn’t track Nintendo consoles properly until after a few months in 2014. It didn’t seem fair to compare incomplete data.  Read more

With two major events debuting this month, December was exciting, and busy, period for gaming media. These two events were Geoff Keighley’s Game Awards 2014 on the 5 December and the PlayStation Experience in Las Vegas to celebrate the 20th birthday of Sony’s console from 6-7 December.

The Game Awards seemed to have worked out pretty well in terms of viewers. However, just one day later the PlayStation Experience came along, producing an impressive amount of new announcements and earning praise in the gaming media from the likes of Polygon or Alist. The question is: How did the numbers for the PlayStation Experience add up?

Fortunately, ICO Partners has specialised in tracking the European gaming media landscape with several in-house developed tools (for more details how the tools works click here). This way we could take a closer look on how the PlayStation Experience was picked up by European media.


Graph 1: PlayStation Experience VS gamescom VS Blizzcon

To find an answer to our question we compared the number of published articles by European media for the PlayStation event with two other similar events: Europe’s biggest gaming show gamescom and Blizzard’s Blizzcon. Because the events took place at different times of the year and with different schedules, we decided to only track media coverage for the first three days after the event starter in order to make the data more comparable.


While gamescom clearly towers above the other events in coverage, it is interesting to note that PlayStation Experience only talked about a single platform in direct comparison to the varied line-up of developers and manufacturers of gamescom. The PlayStation event also clearly outperformed Blizzcon in terms of number of articles published. Not only that, the PlayStation event coverage was also generated on a weekend.

In numbers our tool tracked 15.720 published articles across all three events over their first three days, with gamescom accounting to 65% of the coverage (10.233 articles), while PlayStation Experience is responsible for 25% (3.862 articles) and Blizzcon for 10% (1.625 articles).


Graph 2: PlayStation Experience on a Country Level


Zooming in and taking a look at the data on country level over the three days and just comparing gamescom and the PlayStation Experience, gamescom generated 213 articles in the UK and PlayStation Experience respectable 138. That’s about 65% of gamescom’s coverage in the country for a single platform event.

French media also keenly reported on the announcements, with 217 articles for gamescom and 109 for the PlayStation Experience. Meaning, when the two are compared, that Sony’s single event garnered 50% of gamescom’s entire coverage in the country.

In Germany, where gamescom took place, the coverage for the event was stronger with 361 articles, but the PlayStation event numbers were still comparable to other territories with 133 published articles, totalling 42% of gamescom’s coverage.


Graph 3: PlayStation Experience Weekend vs Regular Weekends

Another factor we mentioned previously is that the PlayStation Experience took place on a weekend, where the average number of published articles is, traditionally, significantly lower compared to regular week days.

To highlight what happened on the PlayStation Experience weekend we randomly picked 5 major gaming sites across Europe, specifically Kotaku (UK), Eurogamer (UK), Gamer (NL), Gamekult (FR) and Gameblog (FR) and looked into them in more detail.

We tracked the number of published articles from the 12 November to the 12 December to see how the PlayStation Experience weekend held up compared to regular weekdays and weekends. Please note the numbers for the PlayStation Experience weekend may include overlaps from the Game Awards as they took place just one day before the PlayStation event and the data from 5 sites is of course not representative of a whole region. Still, the graph below should give an idea what the PlayStation Experience weekend looked like compared to a regular weekend.


As you can see in the charts above, the number of articles published on the PlayStation Experience weekend (marked in orange) is drastically higher than on regular weekends. Whereas an average weekend in the tracked period (excluding the PlayStation Event weekend) spawned 55 articles across our 5 sample sites, the PlayStation Experience weekend saw 254 articles. This means in comparison to an average weekend the number of published articles was almost 5 times as much due to the PlayStation event. The Saturday especially saw strong coverage by media, resulting in it even being the single strongest day of the whole tracked period in terms of published articles on 4 of the 5 sites, with Kotaku the exception.



Although Sony attended this year’s E3 and gamescom with a host of announcements and received strong media attention, it managed to pull off yet another event of similar impact seemingly out of nowhere. Obviously, that’s impressive from a lineup perspective but the real coup here is the gain in brand value: A massive mindshare grab for the PlayStation brand for a whole weekend and all that without sharing the stage with any of it’s competitors at one of the traditional big events on the calendar.

With refreshed enthusiasm for it’s consoles just before Christmas, surprisingly big announcements and equally large media coverage it could be argued the PlayStation Experience was a better operation than any other gaming event this year. Proving Sony truly knows how to throw a birthday party for itself and its fans.

Back in February this year, the team at Born Ready Games were in the middle of promoting the new, improved version of their Space Shooter Strike Suit Zero, for release on PS4 And Xbox One. One of the improvements for the new version were greatly improved in-game texture models. The question was posed: How can we best show off these visual improvements?

Obviously, screenshots and videos were created and shared to show the game. But with the new models and textures at the heart of the new version (they revamped the game and the story too, but that’s not easily shown in assets), Jamin, their community manager, experimented with Sketchfab.


Sketchfab’s elevator pitch would be the Youtube for 3D assets. You can upload a model and its textures and it will show online on their portal through their webGL viewer and would allow you to embed it on your own website – or any website for that matter.


Here is one of the models that were used to promote Strike Suit Zero: Director’s Cut at the time:

U.N.E. Strike Suit
by BornReadyGames
on Sketchfab


What was interesting as well, is that the ICO Media team (the team at ICO that handles the PR operations for our clients) went with it and shared the links with the media as they were promoting the game. Most outlets decided to go with the regular screenshots. But some of them embedded the Sketchfab models: http://kotaku.com/strike-suit-zero-transforms-into-a-ps4-and-xbox-one-gam-1525942124


In parallel, the great folks of Allegorithmic, a software company providing tools to create the next generation of textures (and if you follow me on social media, you’ll know I am a big fan of what they do – I even sit as an advisor to the board of the company), mentioned Sketchfab as friendly enterprise and suggested I should meet with them.


Fast forward the past few months, I am now talking regularly with them and finding out even more interesting ways they are working on sharing in-game assets. For instance,  “annotations” have been introduced, allowing the camera to be set at a specific angle relative to the model and show some relevant text:


by Hexo+
on Sketchfab


I can very easily imagine this being used in the context of game – discussing a new element of content and highlighting its in game features that way.


Of course, they won’t replace screenshots anytime soon, but there is an opportunity for Sketchfab to carve its own niche and give a way for fans to explore their favourite games in a new way, as well as get an interesting preview of what’s to come. If you want to know more, ping @albn on twitter and say I sent you (he has no idea I am writing this blog post, hopefully it will be a good surprise).


Edit: I was pointed at a video game asset (from an artist’s portfolio) using the annotation system


Mutant Bug Ride
by reyknow
on Sketchfab

In a similar fashion to the E3 blog post, I want to analyse to the impact of gamescom in the media. All the data presented has been taken from our media tracker.

Before I begin though, some context is necessary. gamescom (without the capital G, that’s important to them) was a video game event set from the 13th to the 17th of August in Cologne. While E3 is very much a professional event, gamescom is both B2C and B2B – with a significant part of the later dedicated to interact with the media.

Similar to E3, the week was kicked off by a couple of press conferences from Microsoft and Sony. The proximity from E3 and the place in the calendar (a few weeks away from the first launches for the “holiday season”) mean those press events/media briefings are very different from their E3 counterparts. They usually echo reveals that were made at E3 and have a few of their own exclusive announcements, but by and large, they are not seen as exciting as those made in Los Angeles.

When I started digging into the number, I had in mind to compare E3 and gamescom – but the nature of the events (and perhaps more importantly) their timings mean it is hardly fair and not really possible across everything we track. I have tried to use some comparisons where applicable, but also looked at the event on its own as much as possible.

Finally, gamescom have announced their attendance numbers:

  • 335,000 visitors
  • 31,500 trade visitors
  • 700 exhibitors
  • 6,000 media representatives

gamescom itself

The nice thing with gamescom when it comes to our media tracking is that we can find articles mentioning the event itself rather easily (which we can’t do with E3 for instance).


Over one week, there were 16,642 articles mentioning the event. The peak day being the Tuesday (the day of media briefings event from the two largest console manufacturers and their reveals). On the Wednesday, the B2C part of the event is opened to professionals only and (along with Thursday) has the biggest part of the press presentations (including the EA press conference for instance). By Friday, the B2B area is slowing down significantly, the B2C is no longer easily accessible and a lot of professionals (including media) are on their way home.



While it is obvious that it is a very German event (almost 30% of all the coverage it generates is published in Germany), there is still a significant relay across all the others Western territories.




If you compare to the July numbers, it is clear that the gamescom has a positive effect on the amount of coverage, especially when you consider it happens in the Summer in Europe (and with many people on holidays). It is also obvious that while beneficial, the impact is not comparable to the one the E3 has.

You can also see the impact of the press conferences, in the case of Nintendo that didn’t have one for gamescom (while their E3 one had fantastic results): during E3, about 13% of the articles on platforms mentioned the Wii consoles, that fell to 5% for gamescom. This is an impressive counter-performance after a stellar (IMHO) coverage at E3. The fact that the 3DS coverage drop was in line with the other consoles might hint at the fact that Nintendo focused on their handheld titles during this show – I still see it as a missed opportunity on their part.

By looking at the PlayStation brand as a whole, we can look at how the language breakdown differs between E3 and gamescom:


What it shows is quite interesting:

  • There are more articles in German than in other languages around both events. That’s consistent with the German media landscape that is more varied.
  • In English, Spanish and Italian, E3 generates between 55-68% more coverage than gamescom.

While it is expected for German media to give a lot of weight to a local event, it is interesting to see that French media (proportionally) cover gamescom more than English, Italian or Spanish media.

Running the same comparison on the Xbox brand is bearing similar results, with the notable exception of the English media: their drop-off between E3 and gamescom was smaller for Xbox than for Playstation which is in line of the Xbox brand being stronger in the US and the UK than on continental Europe.




The biggest difference between the two events lies in the games’ release dates – while Uncharted 4 is announced at E3, gamescom being a consumer event first and the game not being shown there, it has no presence. On the flip-side, Fifa 15 and CoD:AW which are both year end releases have a much more significant presence – they both have a strong showing on the B2C side and a corresponding push in terms of PR.


Using COD:AW as a first example, we can see a strong proportion of the extra coverage is coming from the German media, but it is also true that the game overall got covered more across all countries.


Using Rise of the Tomb Raider as a second example is equally interesting. During its press conference, Microsoft announced that they had secured a (timed) exclusive for the game on Xbox… This was seen as a bombshell, the franchise has a long history with Playstation and an exclusive for such a high profile game is very rare in our day and age.

The game had been announced at E3, and this arguably one of the most covered news in the life of a game.

Now, looking at the fact that the game received more or less, the same amount coverage at the two events, across all the languages is very interesting: ultimately, gamescom has grown to a point where key announcement are as well relayed as if they had been made at E3.

Some additional thoughts

For 2015, gamescom has announced its dates for slightly earlier in the year (and more in line with the one of feu Leipzig’s Game Convention). That will mean it is further away from the “holiday season” and its bells and whistles focused on games about to be released. It will also be closer to E3 dates… It might be an opportunity to get a few more exclusives and get more of the media attention again.

In July, Bethesda promoted all its games during QuakeCon, making quite a few interesting announcements there.

This past weekend was the Penny Arcade Expo (Prime), a show firmly oriented B2C. At the event, (Germany-based) Deep Silver announced the new Saints Row game – an announcement that could have easily been done during gamescom. Somehow, announcing the title outside of the noise of another event was seen as preferable.

There are more and more events for studios and publishers to make their announcement at and the trend it to pair this with a consumer event of some form, a trend that E3 should probably look into…