Positivity, Netflix-for-games and Keanu Reeves: Here are the biggest trends from E3 2019

Positivity, Netflix-for-games and Keanu Reeves: Here are the biggest trends from E3 2019

Another E3 has been and gone, with the games industry flying back home for a well-deserved rest.

This wasn't the most exciting or wild show we've seen in a while, rather it was a pretty safe affair with little in the way of huge announcements or massive reveals - nor was it ever going to be with new consoles set to launch next year.

But still, it feels like the games industry is in a fascinating place right now. Though companies were unwilling - or unable - to discuss what's coming to the new PlayStation and Xbox consoles, we could still see the future of the games industry; one where platforms weren't consoles, where companies are trying to bring their IP to new formats and trying new business models.

Though next year's show will no doubt be dominated by what's likely going to be called the PlayStation 5 and whatever the final name for Xbox's Project Scarlett is, looking back it's safe to say that 2019 will be the year when everything truly changed - right before more people than ever were able to play games. has reflected upon this year's E3 and picked out what we think were the top trends to come out of the Los Angeles trade show.

You can also check out's E3 2019 coverage right here

Click here to view the list »
  • 1 Talking up the positive aspects of the industry

    Talking up the positive aspects of the industry  logo

    The video games industry has had to deal with a great deal of negativity over the years. From the violence moral panic that lead to the creation of ratings boards like ESRB to more recent controversies like soliciter Jack Thompson's war against the industry, we've seen it all. For a time that seemed to have changed; governments were offering tax relief to encourage companies to make games, while titles like Minecraft have made their way into schools.

    That has changed in the last year or so, with video game addiction - sorry, 'gaming disorder' - being added to the forthcoming new edition of the World Health's Organisation's International Compendium of Diseases and monetisation practices like loot boxes coming under scrutiny from pretty much every country in the world.

    Right now, the industry needs to put a positive face on its products and its communities, so why not do that on-stage at the biggest games show in the world. Bethesda kicked things off with a number of rather cringy vox pop/documentary videos of its community saying what a positive impact games have had on their lives; that these simply aren't toys to waste time with, they're ways of forming bonds, discovering talents and even - for some of us - finding careers.

    It was a rather sweet, albeit corny, video that tried to showcase the best of the industry. Its message, however, was undercut by Bethesda creative director Todd Howard talking about the amazingly positive community that is playing Fallout 76. Maybe there's been a really drastic change since launch, but upon release, there were numerous complaints about the rather toxic fan base that had formed around the online title. Oh, and it didn't have functionality to report harassment in the game, either. It's possible that things have changed, but it's more likely that Howard and co are wilfully overlooking the negative elements of the game.

    It wasn't just Bethesda, either. The friendly face of Ubisoft, CEO and co-founder Yves Guillemot, was also discussing the positive elements of video games.

  • 2 Streaming putting subscription services at the centre of the games business

    Streaming putting subscription services at the centre of the games business logo

    Since Netflix and Spotify took the video and music sectors by storm, the games industry has been looking into how to bring the play-anything-anywhere subscription service to the games industry.

    We've seen it come in baby steps, with EA and Microsoft getting into the race early with Origin Access and Game Pass. Initially these were value-add deals on back catalogue - pay $9.99 per month and you can play a load of older titles you might have forgotten. But now they are forming a centre in these publishers' businesses. It's still early days for Origin Access - though with EA looking into streaming with its Project Atlas it'll be more important in the future - but Microsoft has been rather early with this new business model, and with its forthcoming xCloud service, the Big M looks set to be one of the two big players to reach market first.

    The other, of course, is Google with its Stadia streaming and subscription service, who put on a direct-to-consumer video broadcast in the week before E3. Though the search giant has some big names on-board, its roster of partner developers and publishers is tiny in comparison to Microsoft, who already has some of the biggest names in the market on its platform. It also has its own first-party studios, whose content is available day-and-date with their releases, which is a huge draw. Google has a first-party studio, but this looks to be very new - it's unlikely we'll see anything from this development outfit in the near future, and a Day One launch title in November seems out of the question.

    Speaking of Stadia, Ubisoft revealed its own UPlay+ subscription service at the show. For $14.99, consumers can access the French publishing giant's back catalogue. But where this becomes more complicated - and why I mentioned Google's service - is that UPlay+ will be available to Stadia subscribers in 2020. Subscription services that let you access other subscription services? The future is truly here.

  • 3 There wasn't much gameplay

    There wasn't much gameplay  logo

    While E3 2019 was light on huge, massive, industry changing reveals, there was a lot of really great content on the stage in LA. However, very few publishers were very reluctant to show us gameplay during their demonstrations.

    There are a few reasons why this could be. Firstly - in the case of a company like Microsoft - it's likely that in trying to squeeze 60 games into its showcase, there simply wasn't time to do long segments of actual play. However, broadly speaking, I'm inclined to think that this is more to do with the console transition we are about to see.

    Back at E3 2012, Ubisoft showed off its brand new IP, Watch Dogs, with a demo that genuinely wowed the crowd. The only issue is that when it eventually launched - after some delays - mid 2014, the final product didn't quite live up to what gamers saw back at the LA reveal. The same happened with 2018's PlayStation 4 exclusive Spider-man, which was picked apart by some members of the games community for apparently being 'downgraded' graphically between its trailers and the final product.

    With what's presumably called the PlayStation 5 and Microsoft's Project Scarlett consoles set to launch next year, it's possible that publishers are simply holding off from showing games that'll be coming to both the current generation of hardware and the next wave to help manage expectations.

    That's just speculation, anyway.

  • 4 Games companies heading to the silver and TV screens

    Games companies heading to the silver and TV screens  logo

    The video games industry is no stranger to other mediums. in its early days, products like Mario, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter made the transition into some - really quite bad - films. For a while, the desire to be in cinemas disappeared for many games companies but now it is back with a vengeance.

    On Ubisoft's stage, the French publisher revealed it was working with streaming platform Netflix on an adaptation of its The Division property with Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain in the lead roles. That was on top of the company showing us our first look at the television show it's been working on with It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia creator Rob McElhenney. It's called. Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet.

  • 5 Awesome celebs on-stage

    Awesome celebs on-stage  logo

    If there was A Moment at this year's E3, it has to be the reveal that The Matrix and John Wick star Keanu Reeves was not only playing a main character in the already-eagerly-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077, but the man himself was there on-stage to tell us more about and unveil its release date.

    Not only was having a start with the clout as Mr Reeves huge, he was adorably awkward and charismatic all at the same time, making for a very watchable and memorable bit of E3 history.

    He wasn't the only celeb to grace the stage, either. Jon Bernthal of Daredevil and The Walking Dead fame was in the spotlight at Ubisoft's conference complete with his - very good - dog, Bam Bam. Bernthal is playing a lead role in forthcoming Tom Clancy title, Ghost Recon Breakpoint. 

    Oh, and Katy Perry was on-stage at Square Enix's conference, while during Microsoft's showcase, we also had three professional wrestlers who appeared under the stage for all of about 30 seconds, playing a new mode in Gears of War 5.

  • 6 Mobile is a huge focus for the triple-A firms

    Mobile is a huge focus for the triple-A firms  logo

    Games publishers have not been dissuaded by the super-negative response that met Blizzard's mobile title Diablo: Immortal when it was announced at Blizzcon 2018.

    Companies left and right were showcasing their mobile products. Likely galvanised by the success of 2015's Fallout Shelter - which has smashed past 150m downloads - Bethesda pretty much kicked off its conference with a look at mobile game The Elder Scrolls Blades' new quest line. There was also a look at a brand new expansion for card game The Elder Scrolls Legends called Moons of Elsweyr.

    That was before the firm revealed that Id Software's Commander Keen was being brought to mobile devices, with a release date this summer, much to the surprise of many watching.

    Meanwhile, Ubisoft revealed a new mobile action game called Tom Clancy's Elite Squad, a title bringing together different characters from the French firm's Tom Clancy properties.

    Oh, and during Microsoft and Bethesda's conferences we had the new cliche - someone demoing a really impressive game being played on one of those awkward-looking controllers for a mobile device being beamed to the smartphone by the power of the cloud. Classic.

    The only publisher we're surprised to not see much mobile content from is Nintendo, which is surprising given that this is meant to be one of the Japanese publisher's focuses right now. senior editor Craig Chapple has more about that topic right here.

  • 7 The crowd wouldn't shut up

    The crowd wouldn't shut up  logo

    Having a huge, vocal reaction from those in the room at a show like E3 is nothing new, not least because Americans like to go absolutely wild with excitement over, well, anything.

    But at this year's show, it was taken to some absurd extreme, with games execs like Phil Spencer being seemingly unable to complete a sentence at times without someone in the front row shouting or screaming or pissing themselves in excitement. The same was true for Bethesda's conference, where a few people close to the stage were screaming in the most annoying way through the conference. What's more, looking back at the video, it looks like this was in fact employees from Bethesda, which isn't a great look, if we're honest.

    The one time it was acceptable was the guy who shouted: 'You're breathtaking' at Keanu Reeves, because it was absolutely endearing and 100 per cent true.

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.