What makes a good E3 press conference?

by: Chuck -
While reading through the comments at the Gamerscoreblog the other day I noticed a response from one of the GSB people wondering what makes a good press conference and they wondered why so many people considered last years Microsoft E3 press conference to be so mediocre. The E3 press conference is a tough nut as they need to appeal to retailers, financial analysts, hard core fans, as well as casual gamers.

First off Microsoft's 2007 press conference was solid but not nearly as good as the 2006 press conference for a number of reasons. The biggest was the nearly complete focus on the 2007 holiday lineup with very little new for 2008. Outside of Scene It! there really wasn't anything we didn't already know about. Contrast that with Sony's show which had a good mix of stuff we knew about (Killzone 2,God of War 2) and a lot of brand new stuff (the new PSP, echochrome, inFamous). It didn't help that Microsoft spent a lot of time talking about third part games that weren't exclusive to the platform.   We all knew Call of Duty 4 and Rock Band were going to be awesome, I'm just not sure we needed a demos of the games during the press conference.

In my mind the ideal E3 press conference is a combination of different things. First you need to catch everyone up on what's gone on since last year and where you're projecting to go in the upcoming year. This is the part the analysts are looking for and usually involves a lot of pie charts and line graphs. This shouldn't take more than 10 minutes as if you go on for too long you lose your audience (like Nintendo did last year). This is where you thump your chest a bit and play loose and fast with statistics. Just don't go overboard and a little humility goes a long way.

After that, it’s time for the games that are coming out for the short term/holiday season. Don't just show a montage with the titles of the games, have the producers give a short description of the game and tell people why the game is going to be the bees knees. Then a live demo of one or two big titles just to show people that the games are beyond the pretty trailer stage and are actually playable. I'd mix in one casual game and one hardcore game to appeal to both audiences. I think Scene It! would have gone over well if Peter Moore had played a round or two against someone from the audience. That would have shown how accessible the game is and how much fun the game is.

The last part of the show should be about the games that are coming out next year or two. This is to get people excited about where your system is going and what new things people can expect. This hits all your audiences and is crucial to building the brand.

This is also where you need to pull a few rabbits out of your hat. We all know that it's hard to keep a big secret in a 24 hour news cycle but find a way to keep things under wraps until the end of the show. This is where Sony really shined last year as no one had really heard about echochrome until the show.

I'm hopeful that Microsoft delivers a better show this year and that some of the rumors that are floating around the internet are true(except for the Mii like Avatars...). Next week should be a lot of fun for everyone who loves games and I just hope there aren't a lot of let downs.

What do you think? What other things do you want to see in a press conference and what stuff drives you up the wall?
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