With only a few days to go E3 is rapidly approaching, and hype around the biggest annual event in gaming is peaking.
Predictions are running wild, game journalists are counting the days and pretty much every flat surface in Los Angeles has been plastered with various promotional images related to upcoming games.
But where does Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar Games and the recently delayed Red Dead Redemption 2 fit into all of this?
Rockstar’s parent company won’t be that active at the massive expo, even though it has two major developers – the other being 2K – under its umbrella. 2K has been teasing all sorts of upcoming announcements, with Firaxis pushing something XCOM related on social media and an upcoming Borderlands game from Gearbox being pretty much an open secret. Between these, you’d expect that the company will have a strong presence at E3.
However, the CEO of Take-Two Interactive, Strauss Zelnick, has stated that the company won’t make any big announcements at E3 this year. Other than showing off WWE 2K18 and NBA 2K18, two of 2K’s popular annual sports titles, the company will have a corporate presence and not much else. This means that even the unannounced games being teased will skip the show.
It will be an interesting year for us. We’re not really showing products. We have a corporate presence at E3, and we’re excited to be there. We’ll be meeting with investors and meeting with the press naturally, and meeting with retail partners. I think it’s an important show and it’s important for the industry, and it’s very important for us as the number three company in the space to be there.
On the one hand, this isn’t all too surprising. Take-Two’s subsidiaries, especially Rockstar Games, rarely show up at E3, or at any other major event for that matter. While 2K is a more frequent presenter, Rockstar has only appeared a few times, such as when they announced the Enhanced Editions of Grand Theft Auto 5.
That said, this very well might be a smokescreen.
Another thing Take-Two has a penchant for is secrecy, and once again this is more characteristic of Rockstar. They like to keep information under lock and key up until the last possible moment, so we see a surprise presentation a possibility. In recent years, much has changed around Rockstar Games, including studio reshuffling and the loss of one of the company’s pillars, Leslie Benzies.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is in a whole different situation to what GTA 5 was, or other games before it. GTA 5 was destined for popularity and its success really wasn’t ever in question. Red Dead Redemption 2, on the other hand, is carrying the future of a franchise on its shoulders.
Either it is successful but not exceptionally, meeting requirements and allowing the franchise to drift to the back of the gaming community’s collective mind for another 7 or more years. Or, it becomes a massive success, and elevates the Red Dead franchise to the tier of GTA, ensuring a longer future and more titles on the horizon.
Rockstar is using Red Dead Redemption 2 to test whether the IP can become a heavy hitter, rivalling their flagship franchise. The massive hype around Red Dead Redemption 2 lends good chances for the second possibility, but for it to become reality, Rockstar will need to grab every opportunity they can, including E3.
And of course, it’s not just the publishers who can show off new games at E3. Oftentimes new footage from previously announced games getz the spotlight at the presentations of one of the two major console manufacturers.
Even when not announcing a new console, Sony and Microsoft frequently use major AAA titles to push the marketing of their systems, even if the title isn’t an exclusive or the developers of said game have their own panel.
The console wars are often decided – or undecided, as they have been for several generations – by virtue of games above all else. Fans can compare the specs of the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One project Scorpio all they want, but at the end of the day, games are the deciding factor. And advertising your console with the most anticipated games is how battles are fought.
We already know about Rockstar’s deal with Sony regarding special cross promotion between the PlayStation 4 and Red Dead Redemption 2, and we also know that PS4 players will get access to Red Dead Online post-launch DLC sooner than Xbox One players will. However, a seemingly throwaway comment from Sony Europe boss Jim Ryan might suggest that Red Dead Redemption 2 will also be waving PlayStation colors on the show floor at E3.
When speaking about the Sony lineup for E3, after highlighting a host of exclusives, Ryan mentioned special deals they have with games, all in the context of the company’s show schedule.
We have a Call of Duty partnership, a Destiny 2 partnership, Red Dead partnership with Take-Two and Star Wars with EA
Of course, this is hardly an outright confirmation. If Take-Two is keeping radio silence regarding this matter, then a comment like this might have been a slip of the tongue since Sony is more than likely in on this sort of thing, what with the deal and all that.
Red Dead Redemption 2 popping up at E3 is still highly unlikely, but the possibility is there.
Following the announcement that the game would be delayed until 2018, Rockstar promised more information about Red Dead Redemption 2 would arrive during the summer, so E3 would fit that profile. We sure hope we’ll finally get a glimpse of the game in motion, since the announcement trailer was mostly cinematic. In a few days we’ll see whether Take-Two truly intends to keep this year’s E3 uneventful, or if they’re hiding a bombshell behind smoke and mirrors.