Vancouver and Montreal – Since the conclusion of this year’s E3 conference, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss Canada’s presence with a few people from around the country who were there. The general consensus is that the conference is very much worth attending, whether you have a title or product being launched or not. The experience is very educational and offers many chances to meet new people and to try products you may not otherwise have a chance to.
Wendy Boylan from Ubisoft Vancouver was very pleased with the launch of their first title, Academy of Champions at E3. She said that press reception was fantastic and that their pod in the Ubisoft sector was very busy throughout the show. Pele’s endorsement of the title and interaction with those at the conference adds to the anticipation for the game’s release, and those who tried the title were impressed with the amount of detail and attention which has been paid to this game’s development.
Chammi Kim, a member of the Big Park crew who unveiled their new title, Joy Ride, as part of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 presentation was attending E3 for the first time, and she likened the experience to what it must be like arriving at Mecca after a long pilgrimage. She said that when she wasn’t working at the Microsoft booth helping with Joy Ride demonstrations, she tried to see as many Vancouver-developed games as possible, and it was very exciting to see such a strong presence at the show. Chammi also said that the Vancouver titles showed a wide range of diversity in talent, with a healthy mix of both hardcore and casual games on display. She also said that one of the best aspects of the show was getting to see first hand how people reacted to the gameplay in Joy Ride and that getting instant feedback was gratifying.
Another first-time attendee was EA Canada’s Colin Macrae, and he too was extremely impressed with the quality and variety of Canadian developed titles present at E3. He said that EA had a very strong show, and that one of the most important factors for him personally was being reminded how much interactive media has become a strong part of the entertainment industry in today’s culture. Colin was also excited about the new game controllers being introduced to the industry, and what they mean for the future of game development and creativity. He said that it’s impossible to not be incredibly busy from start to finish at the expo, with so many new and upcoming products, seminars and interviews. I asked Colin what his biggest moment at E3 was, and he stated that it was driving up to the convention centre, seeing all of the people and banners, and feeling the excitement and anticipation in the air as the gaming world got ready to unveil their latest and greatest to the world. With so many highly-anticipated titles coming from EA’s Canadian studio, Colin said that they had a very strong show, and it was at E3 when he fully realized that Canadian studios as a whole truly are at the forefront of the development industry.
Also attending at E3 this year but not presenting any titles was Eidos Montreal. I spoke at length with studio GM Stéphane D’Astous about his thoughts on E3 (and other things, but you’ll have to wait for the next editorial to read about those), and he felt that E3 is important for Canadian developers so that they can continue to show their strength and talent to the rest of the world. Eidos Montreal will be showing off their two in-development titles, Deus Ex 3 and Thi4f at E3 2010, which is nice for me because I plan on attending next year. He further stated that E3 is an important show for marketing and branding, and is a way for studios to see how they compare to the other titles coming out. He said that E3 is also a very good measure of how much the quality of gaming titles has improved over the years, and confirms that there is no shortage of innovation and growth in the industry.
Brenda Bailey from Deep Fried Entertainment, while not showcasing a project, said that as a developer, E3 was also a very good event for the studio, giving her many opportunities to cultivate several business relationships. She noted that Vancouver’s United Front Games had a very good show and got excellent press coverage (especially with Jimmy Fallon), and was perhaps the best-kept secret prior to the unveiling of their PS3 title, ModNation Racers.
I’ve asked several people who work within the industry, including those mentioned above, if they feel that E3 would be a good platform for Canada’s government to be involved in – perhaps assisting with trade and export meetings. The general feeling is that with E3 being so publisher-centric, many of the established studios would not really benefit from such a trade mission, however, with that said, it was also agreed that many of the newer indie studios who are working on their own IP would benefit from such an activity, as it could help the studios meet with prospective publishers. Personally I feel that any opportunity to showcase our Canadian talent is a good one, and I would like to see E3 become a show which our Canadian Trade and Export government sector takes an interest in and create a programme for.