What You Need to Know Before E3 2019
In this article, we will cover the most pertinent information going into E3 2019 and some of the major news and rumors surrounding this year's event.
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The next two weeks are some of the most anticipated and exciting on the gaming calendar: E3. The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is a trade event hosted by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) since 1995 and includes the whos-who of the video game development world. This year's E3 is shaping up to be one of the most important in recent memory, with Sony declining to join and Microsoft building up some amazing hype with rumors of xCloud and Xbox Scarlett news.
In this article, we will cover the most pertinent information going into E3 2019 and some of the major news and rumors surrounding this year's event. This series will also include day-by-day coverage (see the coverage schedule below) and focus on both the gaming news of the expo and the implications of the major announcements from the giants of the industry.
Who, What, When, and Where
The official dates and locations for E3 2019 are:
- What: Electronic Entertainment Expo 2019
- When: June 11-13
- Where: Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA
While E3 officially runs for three days, most of the excitement happens before the show floor opens. The latest games and video game technology will be available for attendees to play starting June 11, but most of the announcements — including information on new games and possibly new consoles — will happen in the days leading up to the official start. The most notable exception is Nintendo, who will host their E3 2019 Nintendo Direct on the first day of E3.
The following is a list of the some of the most notable events happening at and around E3 2019:
|Google (Stadia)||June 6
12:00 pm ET
Stadia Connect: Google will host its first-ever Stadia Connect before the start of E3. According to its announcement teaser, "Some news cannot wait until E3." Pragmatically, Google looks to be getting out ahead of its main competitors and leave enough time for Stadia to hold the spotlight for a few days before E3 reveals start to roll in. According to Google, the presentation will include:
After hearing the basics of Stadia back in March, many have been uneasy about Stadia's potential—especially on the heels of Google's outage on June 2—but it appears that this presentation will cover many of the missing details from its Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019 keynote.
11:00 am ET
Battle of the Best: Starting on Saturday, Nintendo will be hosting its annual world championship tournaments, pitting teams from North America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand against one another to find out which player or team is the best in the following three brackets:
For more information, see Nintendo's official E3 2019 page.
|Electronic Arts (EA)||June 8-9||
EA Play: While EA will not be officially attending E3, they will be hosting their EA Play event at the Hollywood Palladium in LA on the weekend before. During this event, EA will be hosting a Fan Fest on June 8 from 12:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET and June 9 from 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm ET, which will include the opportunity to play some of EA's most popular games and even some unreleased games, including Apex Legends, Anthem, new Battlefield V content, new EA SPORTS, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
EA is also forgoing its usual press conference and replacing it with multiple live-streams on June 8. The official EA Play schedule is:
For more information, see the official EA Play 2019 page.
4:00 pm ET
Microsoft has taken no time in stepping up in light of Sony's absence from E3 and claims that "this will be our biggest E3 presence ever and we can’t wait to share more about what we’ve got up our sleeves for the future." Microsoft confirmed that their presentation will last 2 hours (in contrast to 104 minutes in 2018, 95 minutes in 2017, and 90 minutes in 2016) and although Microsoft has been known not to fill its entire schedule segment (E3 2018 was blocked off for 120 minutes as well), if they are announcing as much as is rumored, they are going to need it all.
As of now, this presentation is rumored to include three colossal topics:
According to a tweet by Phil Spencer (EVP of Gaming):
After the Halo: Infinite teaser from E3 2018, it is likely that Microsoft will provide some news on the flagship franchise and its new Slipstream engine, along with information on Gears 5. Apart from these leading titles, Microsoft will likely include information on a new Forza game (a comical inevitability) and is rumored to be announcing Fable 4. Although a fantasy at this point, some are even speculating that Microsoft will break into its Rare vault and reboot one its long-time favorites, such as a Banjo-Kazooie 3.
Apart from title announcements, Microsoft will likely discuss its Project xCloud in greater detail, especially on the heels of the cloud partnership it recently formed with Sony, the announcement of Google Stadia at GDC 2019, and its rumored friendship with Nintendo (see below). xCloud could represent a monumental paradigm shift for the console company, as it would allow its popular first-party titles to be played on just about any device, maybe even on Nintendo Switch or PlayStation (PS)—or at least one can dream.
Lastly, Microsoft is also rumored to be showcasing its next-generation console: codename Xbox Scarlett. While Microsoft may not be showing the console itself, if Scarlett news is present in the presentation, it will likely include technical specifications and some cursory information to drum up the excitement for future announcements.
In lieu of Sony's absence from this year's E3, Microsoft looks as if it is pulling out all of the stops, in terms of games, crossplay and streaming, and consoles, but we will have to wait until the actual presentation to see what Microsoft is willing to put forth. At best, this presentation could be extraordinary and be a contender for one of the all-time best E3 presentations; at the same time, if Microsoft comes up short, it could be severely underwhelming and could squander the opportunity provided by Sony's nonappearance.
For more information, see Microsoft's official E3 2019 Briefing page.
8:30 pm ET
Coming off the heels of the Fallout 76 fiasco, Bethesda is expected to have an impactful presentation on Sunday night. According to the official Bethesda press release, the company is claiming, "It’s going to be a hell of a night" and will include an "in-depth look at DOOM Eternal plus much, much more."
Bethesda has not said much about Elder Scrolls VI since there announcement at E3 2018, but many are hoping for news on the next installment in the famed franchise. Officially, it appears that Elder Scrolls and Starfield—another E3 2018 announcement—will not be at this E3, though. According to Todd Howard (CEO):
People are going to see [the tech] at first, actually, in Starfield. And so that tech will have like the second version of it in TES6, and—before everyone asks—please be patient. It's going to be a long time. It's not something we're going to be talking about at E3--either of those games--this year. And so patience, please. But given the [Elder Scrolls] anniversary, we did want to give everybody a taste.
|Devolver Digital||June 9
10:00 pm ET
There's never a dull moment with a Devolver Digital presentation, with a host of adjectives coming to mind when reviewing their two previous E3 presentations from 2017 and 2018—strange, humorous, and bizarre, to name a few. According to Devolver Digital:
Devolver Digital will continue this trend with a live stream of their 2019-20 games to come. The company also already issued an apology in advanced for their presentation—another indicator that this presentation will mimic the fashion of its previous presentations.
For more information, see the Devolver Digital Twitter.
|Limited Run Games||June 10
3:00 pm ET
Limited Run Games has earned special admiration in the gaming community through their physical releases of digital games and re-releases of long-gone titles. Following up from its successful E3 2018 presentation, Limited Run Games announced that it will be attending this year's E3 as well:
While few details were provided on what the company will bring to this year's E3, if last year's presentation is any indication—where Limited Run Games announced 18 new physical titles—it should be an exciting presentation.
4:00 pm ET
Ubisoft rarely underwhelms at E3 and this year is looking no different. According to its official E3 announcement, Ubisoft will host a pre-show an hour before (3:00 pm ET) the start of its main E3 presentation, which will include updates on:
Ubisoft also slyly hints that it will include "some special surprises" in this pre-show. During the main event, Ubisoft will reveal its new titles and cover updates to on its already-announced titles of:
Apart from these titles, Ubisoft is rumored to possibly reveal information about Beyond Good & Evil 2, and may even venture to provide a sneak peek at Assassin's Creed 2020, but that may be more of a stretch. What is not as out-there is news on Roller Champions, which has been leaking over the last two weeks and stands as a new franchise that will land on PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch—although there has been no announcement on a release date.
In addition to new titles, it is likely—especially in light of a Google Stadia presentation this week (see below)—that Ubisoft will focus some time towards game streaming and its strategy to take the forefront in this blossoming technology. If Ubisoft's front-row presence in the crowd during Google's Stadia presentation is any indicator, the French-based developer has a serious stake in the future of game streaming.
For more information, see Ubisoft's official E3 press announcement.
|Square Enix||June 10
9:00 pm ET
A lot of hype has been swirling around Square Enix in the lead up to E3 2019, due in large part to the news that Square will be showing off its new Marvel Avengers game (formerly called The Avengers Project). The announcement came back in January of 2017, and not much has been seen since then, but on May 29th, the official Marvel Avengers Twitter tweeted:
Apart from this blockbuster game, Square will likely include information about its Final Fantasy VII Remake, which fans haven't seen much of directly from Square, only getting a teaser in Sony's recent State of Play presentation on May 9. Being that the trailer ends with More to come in June, it is almost a given that Square will include at least some details about the game in its E3 presentation. Additionally, Square also confirmed on Twitter that it will present Dying Light 2 at this year's E3.
Being that Octopath Travelers will release on PC on June 7th, it is unlikely that Square will present any news of a sequel or even Downloadable Content (DLC) at E3 this year, but anything is possible.
For more information, see Square Enix's official E3 2019 save the date announcement.
12:00 pm ET
Nintendo Direct: Nintendo will host its pre-recorded Nintendo Direct, showcasing "upcoming games for the Nintendo Switch system." Based on the wording of the Direct announcement, Nintendo will not include 3DS content, and likely no hardware announcements will be made—although, with the rumors of new Switch hardware being release (see below), that is not a certainty.
As of now, there are a host of important Switch games that are slated for release in 2019, some of which—like Animal Crossing—we know very little about:
Coming off the heels of the Super Mario Maker 2 Direct (that aired on May 15) and with a scheduled Pokémon Sword and Shield Direct on June 5 at 9:00 am ET, it likely that the Direct will not focus on these two titles (although Nintendo has been known to make some strange moves and do precisely the opposite of what fans expect). This leaves Animal Crossing, Luigi's Mansion 3, Fire Emblem, and Link's Awakening as the focal point—in addition to any new titles.
Typically, Nintendo primarily focuses its Directs on a single game (e.g. Breath of the Wild for E3 2016, Super Mario: Odyssey for E3 2017, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for E3 2018) and many have speculated that Animal Crossing will take the spotlight, considering it is one of their most significant titles still unrevealed. At the same time, Nintendo has been tight-lipped and has not mentioned that Animal Crossing will even be covered in this Direct (i.e., it is possible that the game will be pushed back—which, as seen with Metroid Prime 4, is not impossible).
Treehouse Live: After the completion of the Direct, Nintendo will host its Treehouse Live event, where Nintendo personalities will play some of the games discussed in the Direct as well as deep-dive into some of the more general information seen in the Direct. With the release of Super Mario Maker 2 around the corner (June 28 in the US), it is almost a given that the Treehouse will include gameplay of this streaming powerhouse.
Also, it is likely that we will see some gameplay of Pokémon Sword & Shield and Fire Emblem: Three Houses. What remains to be seen is if Animal Crossing, Luigi's Mansion 3, or Link's Awakening gameplay will be included—that all depends on how much information for each game is revealed in the Direct and which is the focus of the Direct. In the same way that E3 Directs usually focus on a single game, E3 Treehouse Lives generally follow suit, adding hype to the focal game of the Direct; so the distribution of gameplay will likely depend on the balance of time spent on each game in the Direct.
For those attending the event, and E3 has provided an interactive floor plan. This floor plan includes most of the giants in the game industry, although a notable name is missing: Sony. The departure of the de facto console leader from E3 2019 has caused some serious rumors to spread, which are covered below. Apart from the withdrawal of Sony, the following companies will still be hosting booths on the show floor (including booth numbers):
|Warner Brothers (WB)||1023|
|Epic Games, Inc.||601|
|Square Enix, Inc.||1601|
|West Hall||Nintendo||4822 and 5244|
News and Rumors
This year more than others, the lead-up into E3 has been filled with rumors and speculation. The following are some of the most prominent and far-reaching whispers from the grapevine.
Sony Partners With Microsoft to Battle Stadia
On May 16th, Microsoft and Sony announced a partnership that includes a joint venture in game and content streaming using Microsoft's Azure cloud service. This relationship effectively means that Sony will coordinate the development of its cloud gaming technologies with Microsoft and host its PS streaming services using Azure. According to an official press release by Microsoft:
Under the memorandum of understanding signed by the parties, the two companies will explore joint development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game and content-streaming services. In addition, the two companies will explore the use of current Microsoft Azure datacenter-based solutions for Sony’s game and content-streaming services. By working together, the companies aim to deliver more enhanced entertainment experiences for their worldwide customers. These efforts will also include building better development platforms for the content creator community.
The news was so surprising that, according to Bloomberg, the staff at Sony's PS division were unaware that any negotiations had been going on with Microsoft. While Sony had been hosting its PS Now since January of 2014, the service was lackluster by most standards. With the inclusion of Google Stadia in the streaming service arena, Sony can no longer afford mediocre results.
While a partnership with its long-time console rival appears shocking on the surface, at its core, the move is mutually beneficial. On the one hand, Sony does not have the infrastructure to properly compete with Stadia (or the desire to take on Google head-to-head in the cloud sector), which leaves only two leading cloud providers: Microsoft (Azure) and Amazon (Amazon Web Services, AWS). The news that Amazon is currently developing its own streaming service, coupled with the gaming knowledge that Microsoft brings to the table, makes the partnership a natural one (left: Sony President and CEO, Kenichiro Yoshida; right: Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella; image from Microsoft press release).
From Microsoft's perspective, the move is directly in line with its recent strategy to break out of the console wars and move towards the service-based future of gaming. In addition to its Project xCloud, Microsoft appears to be positioning itself to be the leader in multi-platform game services, such as game streaming, and use its Xbox market share to support this corporate goal, rather than utilizing a streaming service (such as Xbox Game Pass) to sell consoles.
While the cooperation between the two companies is a benefit for both gaming giants, this does not necessarily mean that we will see Sony exclusives on Xbox or vice-versa soon. One positive, though, is that the next-generation of Xbox and PS consoles are both rumored to be using similar AMD hardware which may eventually lead to common hardware and third-party developers creating games on a single architecture.
The Nintendo and Microsoft Friendship
Apart from Sony and Microsoft's cooperation, Microsoft has been friendly with Nintendo as well. Considering Nintendo does not yet have its own dedicated streaming service, and has struggled with implementing the cloud infrastructure to support its multiplayer games in the past—think the Nintendo Switch Mobile application and the problems with Super Smash Bros. Ultimately online support—it may also be in the big-N's interest to partner with Microsoft. With the friendliness between Nintendo and Microsoft as of late, this may happen sooner rather than later, which would leave the gaming community with the bizarre situation of having the three primary console competitors runner their streaming services on the same infrastructure (owned by one of the three rivals).
In addition to possible online support from Microsoft, Game Pass may be coming to Nintendo Switch has been highly rumored—even before GDC 2019. While the rumor-mill has died down since March, this possibility still lingers in the past (image from The Verge).
Moreover, even if Microsoft does not bring its intellectual properties (IPs) over to the Switch through Game Pass, it may allow Nintendo to use its IPs in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a DLC character (i.e., Halo's Master Chief or Minecraft's Steve). Or they may even announce a new game coming to both Xbox and the Switch—especially one from the Rare vault, such as a Banjo-Kazooie 3 or similar title. While this may seem farfetched, it would take a large token to solidify the relationship between these once-rivals and those stakes bring a lot of possibilities to the fore.
For more information on Game Pass on Nintendo Switch, see the rumors before GDC 2019:
- Direct-Feed Games' report (de facto originator of the rumor)
- GameXplain's Rumor Discussion
- Spawn Wave's Rumor Wave
Microsoft xCloud Likely to Take the Stage
It has been over a year and a half since Microsoft revealed its Project xCloud streaming service, but since that time, we have not gotten a solid look into the details of the service. The proposition of Project xCloud is basic in theory but ambitious in practice: play Microsoft games anywhere, on any device that supports streaming. In theory, this means that a gamer can play Forza or Halo on a phone, tablet, laptop, or console, with nearly the same graphical fidelity as a native game.
Conceptually, this is a great way to allow players to experience their favorite games anywhere, not just at home on a console and without having to download a digital game (i.e., a phone may not be able to store more than one or two modern games that require upwards of 50 GB of storage), but the devil is in the details. While GDC 2019 provided some more information about how the service would work for developers, we have not yet seen Microsoft's vision come to fruition (image from Xbox Wire).
With Google's announcement of Stadia in March and its upcoming presentation before E3 (see below), Microsoft is on the hot seat to show off the capability of its streaming service. While Google has the power of YouTube and nearly immeasurable amounts of cloud computing at its disposal, Microsoft has one ace up its sleeve: IPs. The ability to play a franchise such as Halo or Gears of War on a cell phone, tablet, or laptop, with equal enjoyment as a console is an outstanding proposition and one that can differentiate Microsoft from its Mountain View rival.
While Microsoft has not officially announced that Project xCloud will be the focus of its E3 presentation, it is likely that it will take up a significant portion of the two hours Microsoft has allotted itself, and will hopefully include many of the details that fans have been longing for since 2017.
With the announcement of Google Stadia at the GDC back in March, Google foisted itself into the competitive realm of platform developers—along with Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. The presentation included a treasure-trove of information, such as the basic functionality of the streaming service, integration with YouTube and tools for content creators, a new controller, and plans for supporting low-latency, 8k streaming. While exciting, the presentation left a lot unclear, including the price for the service, a release date, and most importantly, what games would be included with the service—both at launch and down the road (image from Den of Geek!).
In a follow-up interview with Colin Campbell and Chris Plante, Phil Harrison at Google (Stadia product manager) stated that the lack of games described in the presentation should not be over-analyzed. According to Harrison:
Don’t read it too much into which games we chose, and which games we didn’t choose. We had a series of platform features that we wanted to articulate. We chose a number of games that helped illustrate particular features. But don’t read too much into why so-and-so was there and why so-and-so wasn’t there.
We’ve had deep conversations over a number of years now. We’ve shipped over a hundred development kits already. We’ve got thousands of creatives already underway. So you’ll see a pretty amazing lineup come June.
For anyone in the videogame community, June means one thing: E3. When pressed about whether Google would be at E3, Harrison stated, "We’re not confirming E3." Even so, many expected Google to be present at E3 2019, but Google announced on Monday that they will be hosting their first Stadia Connect on June 6 at noon ET, where they will discuss the missing details on Google Stadia. According to the announcement, "Some news cannot wait for E3," including news on launch information, game announcements, and price. In addition to Stadia details, this presentation is rumored to headline with the announcement that Baldur Gate 3 will be coming to Google Stadia.
New Hardware From Microsoft and Maybe Nintendo
After more than five years of the PS4 and Xbox One, the eighth generation of consoles is nearing its end. While the transition can be disappointing (i.e., some games are not backward compatible, spending money on a new generation of consoles, etc.), it is also exciting, as it means that a new set of consoles will hit the market very soon. Sony's absence from E3 guarantees that we will not see a PS5 at the conference, but the same cannot be said for Microsoft.
It is highly rumored that Microsoft will include information about its next generation of consoles (codenamed Xbox Scarlett). At a minimum, Microsoft will likely show off the technical specifications for its new system, including processor, storage, and graphics capability; at best, they may even show off an image or prototype of the new console. In either case, most rumors point to a 2020 release date for the next Xbox, which means that if Microsoft decides to include Xbox Scarlett information in this year's E3 presentation, it will probably be a first-look rather than a full-fledged unveiling (image from OC3D.net).
In addition to Microsoft, Nintendo is also rumored to be revealing newer additions of its Switch. While Shuntaro Furukawa (Nintendo President) stated, "we have no plans to announce that at this year’s E3 in June" in April, such claims have never stopped Nintendo in the past. Back in 2006, rumors swirled that Nintendo would reveal a new DS; Nintendo shot this rumor down, but a mere few weeks later, the big-N revealed the DS Lite. If the lifecycle of the Nintendo DS is any indicator—which had an upgrade cadence of about 1 to 2 years—considering the Switch had its second birthday in March, we are approaching the next iteration of Nintendo Switches.
Without looking too far into the E3 2019 Nintendo Direct announcement, Nintendo claims that its presentation will provide "a sneak peek at upcoming games for the Nintendo Switch system" (emphasis added), which means—strictly speaking—the Direct will not contain any information about hardware. This exclusion does not stop Nintendo from dropping hardware news in the Treehouse Live that follows the Direct, though.
The rumors of a new iteration of Nintendo Switch hardware have been raging since late 2018 when the Wall Street Journal claimed that two new Switch versions were coming in 2019: A minified version and performant version. Since E3 will arguably be the most iconic gaming venue of 2019, there is a slight chance that Nintendo will announce these new models during or around its Direct on June 11.
Coverage During the Week
Throughout the weekend and into the official launch of E3 2019, we will cover the major events of the day, publishing articles on:
- Friday, June 7th, covering Google's Stadia news.
- Monday, June 10th, covering the news of the weekend.
- Tuesday, June 11th, covering the Ubisoft and Square Enix announcements.
- Wednesday, June 12th, covering the major developments from Nintendo.
The week will wrap up with a summary article on Friday, June 14th, revisiting the major news of the week and detailing some of their implications going into the rest of 2019.
For more information about E3 2019, see the following:
- Confirmed and rumored titles: While announcements are breaking day-by-day, IGN keeps a helpful enumeration of confirmed and rumored games; likewise, Games Radar keeps a similar list, which includes some valuable information on each confirmed and rumor game.
- Official E3 information: Official information, including how to register for the conference, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for attendees, and live events at the LA Convention Center during the week, can be found on the official E3 website.
- Third-party coverage: Prefered coverage and media personalities will differ by the reader, some of the author's favorite sources of news and updates (for E3 and gaming in general) include GameXplain, Spawn Wave, and Digital Foundry. These outlets will not only be providing video updates throughout each day of—as well as the days leading up to—the conference, they will also be providing valuable discussions and insight into the importance of announcements and how various breaking news relates the larger gaming community—not to mention the pure entertainment value of their analysis.
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