The GamesIndustry.biz E3 Award Winners
There's more to E3 than Sony vs. Microsoft, as our team offers its first ever verdict on the best in show
The console companies may dominate the conversation around E3, but the truth is that there's never just one winner of such a large and diverse event.
The games people will be playing for the rest of this year and well beyond were in Los Angeles this week, on giant screens and in elaborate booths, both inside the L.A. Convention Center and - in the case of Devolver - in a car park just outside.
Here are the choices of the GamesIndustry.biz team for our first ever E3 awards.
Best Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
There's a lot of wonderful creative work going on at E3 this year. Rare's Sea of Thieves build has come on a long way, Sledgehammer Games has put together one of the most promising Call of Duty games in years. Meanwhile, Supermassive Games has revealed three new projects at the show.
But this has to be Ubisoft Montreal's event. The firm has two major games on the show floor - Assassin's Creed Origins and Far Cry 5 - which are both excellent. Meanwhile, the Fun House division (which is based within Montreal) is the studio working on Tranference, the unnerving VR project being made with Elijah Wood's production company SpectreVision.
Best Publisher: Ubisoft
This was the easiest prize of them all. The company delivered on every level. Plenty of new IP - both quirky and triple-A - as well as kids games, family games, major sequels, shock announcements, Miyamoto wielding a gun, mobile, and VR; Ubisoft ticked every box going. We've played some of the games too, and Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle in particular is excellent.
It was supposed to be Microsoft's year, but E3 2017 was a triumph for Yves Guillemot and his team.
Rising Star: Annapurna Interactive
Only Microsoft paid much attention to indie games this year, with games like Ooblets, The Last Night and Cuphead arguably more intriguing than the blockbusters they stood beside. Aurora44'a Ashen and Beethoven & Dinosaur's The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti were among the most exciting games at the Xbox conference, and they are both in the portfolio of one of the best new publishers working with the indie scene: Annapurna Interactive.
Annapurna was established as a film production company, and a rather good one too, with a release slate that includes critical darlings like Zero Dark Thirty, The Master and Her. The company's Interactive division only launched in December last year, and it has already released the brilliant What Remains of Edith Finch, and will follow that with Jason Roberts' visually striking puzzle game Gorogoa. Annapurna looks set to rival Devolver Digital as the home for the very best of the independent scene.
One to Watch: Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
This prize is for a game (or product) that is announced at the show that's a bit of an unknown, but may prove to be a breakout hit.
You could legitimately argue that Mario + Rabbids is hardly an unknown, what with it using two of the industry's most established kids brands. However, an XCOM-esque turn-based combat game set in the Mushroom Kingdom? This is as unusual as it gets. The game's concept leaked before the show and was subject to some negativity among fans of Mario and Rabbids, but once it was revealed those doubts soon vanished. We loved what we played, and with a great score and unusual gameplay this might prove to be one of the big Switch games of the year. It's also coming out very soon: August 29th.
The Hype Award: Super Mario Odyssey
Look at all the metrics, and you can see which game generated the most excitement and noise at E3 this year. Based on Facebook posts from the show floor, Super Mario Odyssey was comfortably the No.1 game of the week. Press coverage has been unanimously positive, with the BBC stating that it "caps Nintendo's triumphant comeback." After Nintendo's last major adventure, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the anticipation for this one is extremely high.
Technical Innovation: PlayLink
This was subject to some fierce debate. Surely the technical triumph of the show was Xbox One X? Microsoft has created the most powerful games console yet and crammed it into a tiny box.
Yet whereas that's unquestionably a technical achievement, we've decided to go with PlayStation's PlayLink due to its innovative use of technology. PlayLink is a concept where gamers can use their mobile phones as controllers for PS4. Sony is publishing a number of games to make use of PlayLink, and while there are echoes of both Wii U and even Smartglass here, the key difference is the social aspect. Up to five players can take part in these games, and each will only cost £19.99 in the UK.
Ideal for a bit of fun over Christmas, and very well suited to the casual and mainstream gamers who don't care too much about Forza and God of War, PlayLink was one of the surprises of E3.
Best Booth Design: Nintendo
Last year's E3 was one of the best years to date for E3 booths. Capcom re-created a haunted house, 2K Games evoked New Orleans, filling its booth with balconies, bands, neon lights and games. Nintendo also stunned attendees with its Zelda ride, recreating Hyrule, right down to the changing weather.
While there was nothing this year on quite the same scale, Nintendo once again excelled by theming its area entirely around one game: Super Mario Odyssey. The recreation of New Donk City included a Mario Tank, Mario Bullet Bill, Mario Chain Chomp, a giant hot air balloon and even the voice of Mario himself. Gamers could even claim a free Mario hat.
Best Marketing Execution: Devolver
Ever since Devolver pitched up in a Hooters parking lot with free beer, free BBQ, and some of the best indie games on the market a few years ago, it's been clear that the publisher intended to do E3 differently. The renegade approach has worked brilliantly, and this year it aimed to push it even further, doubling the space for its offsite presence and, in a surprising move, holding its own press conference.
The half of that plan that worked was also the least likely. That press conference turned out to be a darkly funny and deeply weird parody of the showcases that played out on E3's official stages, and a perfect expression of the personality that Devolver transmits to its audience through its games.
Best Launch Execution: Beyond Good & Evil 2
The launch execution of most of Ubisoft's reveals were top drawer. From Assassin's Creed at the Xbox event to Miyamoto's onstage appearance, it was a truly great PR and marketing effort from the Ubisoft team. But the sheer surprise at Beyond Good & Evil 2 finally being confirmed set it apart, and the excellent trailer left nobody in doubt that Ubisoft Montpellier was on the right track.
That alone would be enough, but Michel Ancel's emotional address when the trailer finished offered a rare moment of utter sincerity in a week where so much feels manufactured and rehearsed.
Developer's Game of the Show: Super Mario Odyssey
We spoke to a wide range of developers to find out what their single favourite game of E3 2017 was. It was close between Mario + Rabbids and Super Mario Odyssey, but Nintendo's Switch exclusive secured the most votes.
Simply put, Odyssey looks superb, in much the same way that Zelda did at E3 last year. We played both E3 demos, including an exploration of New Donk City and a desert-themed platforming challenge. Both were excellent, but the platforming demo - complete with Mario morphing into his 2D iteration - was our favourite by far.
Retailer's Game of the Show: Destiny 2
The retailers were really split on their game of the show. We had votes for the new versions of Skyrim, Call of Duty: World War II, Anthem, Beyond Good & Evil 2 and Sea of Thieves. However, Destiny 2 snatched the victory with just a single vote.
Bungie's latest game, which enjoyed a prominent spot at the PlayStation conference, was playable on the show floor and had one of the longest queues of the event. The release date has moved forward two days to September 6, but the hype will really start building in mid-July, when the Destiny 2 Beta launches. One retailer told us: "I wasn't confident in Destiny 2 before E3. But after seeing it in action, I'm confident this will become one of the biggest games of the year."