The Trends List - E3 2018 Edition

The Trends List - E3 2018 Edition

After more than a week of press conferences, game announcements big and small and constant headlines about Cyberpunk 2077, E3 has finally closed off and everyone has been trying to sleep off that jet lag. 

But what were the big takeaways from this year's show? We've broken down what we think are the biggest trends from this iteration of the Los Angeles games event.

Is there anything you feel is missing? Drop me a line at [email protected]

Click here to view the list »
  • 1 No-one wants to go near loot boxes

    No-one wants to go near loot boxes  logo

    Unsurprisingly, following the Star Wars Battlefront II mess at the end of 2018, big publishers are being slightly more careful when it comes to monetisation options within their video games.

    Electronic Arts, the firm that poured gasoline on the flames of a brewing controversy stepped back from this means of making money, saying that both Battlefield V and Anthem will only have cosmetic microtransactions. Further more, users will always know what they are getting.

    All of which is very well and good, but it does beg the question how these service-based projects are going to be monetised moving fowards. As has been said thousands of times before, game budgets are rising exponentially, yet the cost to consumer is lower than ever. How publishers are going to reconcile these two facts is going to be an interesting dilemma for the biggest games publishers in the world in the coming years.

  • 2 Streaming and subscription services are back and bigger than ever

    Streaming and subscription services are back and bigger than ever  logo

    Many companies have died in the process of trying to make 'Netflix for Games' a reality, OnLive being a prime example. But there has been renewed activity in the space with platforms like Utomik, Jump and Shadow Blade.

    Some of the biggest companies in the world, too, have been toying around with streaming and subscription models. Both Electronic Arts and Microsoft are active in the sector with their Origin Access and Xbox Game Pass services, respectively.

    EA doubled down on the promise of its scheme, introducing Origin Access Premier. This, much like Xbox Game Pass, will bring brand new releases to the platform on the day of release for what is admittedly a pretty reasonable fee. The publishing giant also spoke - in rather vague terms - about its purchase of Israeli tech firm GameFly and how that plays into its wider strategy. Nothing has been announced yet, but stay tuned for EA bringing streaming to its Origin platform.

    Meanwhile, Microsoft announced a bevvy of improvements to its own Game Pass service, with the tech giant revealing that it was using machine learning to help games load quicker. That seems to only be on specific titles and only on Xbox One for the time being, but shows a level of investment being ploughed into its service.

    Additionally, games chief Phil Spencer said that the firm was researching how to stream console-quality gameplay to any device.

    Poor quality internet and missteps made by pioneering companies might have killed streaming and subscription-based services dead in the early 2010s, but it's back with a vengeance now and shows no sign of going away.

  • 3 Lots and lots of new IP

    Lots and lots of new IP  logo

    It might be a sign that we're set for a new console generation - and yes, these hardware cycles do affect the PC games space - that there were so many new franchises on display at the show.

    The biggest example was no doubt Cyberpunk 2077, not entirely a new IP but the first foray in the games space, while From Software and Activision finally revealed Seriko Shadows Die Twice. Remedy debuted Control - formerly P7 - published by 505 Games and Bethesda teased space RPG Starfield. Anthem dominated EA's stageshow, also.

    If that wasn't enough, we have a new franchise from PlatinumGames and Square Enix in Babylon's Fall.

  • 4 Everyone and their dog is avoiding Red Dead Redemption 2

    Everyone and their dog is avoiding Red Dead Redemption 2 logo

    Q1 2019 is the new Q4 2018 - a load of big, top ticket projects are eschewing a normal end-of-year release window in favour of the start of 2019. The reason? No doubt because Red Dead Redemption 2 is set to launch in October 2018.

    It isn't even publishers bumping their games into the new year - even game giants like Activision and EA are afraid of Rockstar's Western romp, with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Battlefield V launching much earlier than their 'regular' windows.

    Not that that's a bad thing - in the past, the sheer pile up of new games coming out around the Christmas period has been a massive problem for all involved. To pick one high profile example, a fantastic project such as Titanfall 2 got lost in malestrom between Call of Duty Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1. And publishers such as Capcom have seen some real success by launching in a quieter release window, having opted for this with several Resident Evil titles, including 2017's seventh numbered entry, DMC: Devil May Cry and Monster Hunter World. The Japanes firm is also setting its sights on this window again for Resident Evil 2 Remake and Devil May Cry 5.

  • 5 Publishing letting developers do the talking

    Publishing letting developers do the talking  logo

    Now this is a trend we can get behind - likely trying to once again capitalise off the success of Martin Sahlin from Coldwood Studios - aka nervous Unravel man - the publisher giant decided to put some more of its developers at the forefront of its showing.

    The publisher had Jo-Mei's Cornelia Geppert nervously sharing her debut title Sea of Solitude, while even EA DICE had a real human man on-stage to talk about upcoming content to Battlefront II.

    Having people on-stage discussing their games is nothing new, but it's always a nice surprise, especially when showcases at E3 can descend into being 90 straight minutes of trailers and corporate nonsense.

    Plus, having developers like Gabrielle Shrager - from the Beyond Good and Evil 2 - screaming "We nailed it" backstage into a mic that is still hot is way more of a personal moment than any forced on-stage interaction. 

  • 6 And, of course, battle royale

    And, of course, battle royale  logo


PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.