This week team Amiqus have returned from EGX’s new home at the NEC near Birmingham. After all the excitement the guys are a little battle-weary from all those games but hugely inspired by the event. Here’s our take on what happened.
A major highlight was the Gfinity eSports showcase. This was uber-theatrical with smoke-machines and lights adding to the big event atmosphere, complete with it’s own sports-desk style presenters and running commentary. Fuelled by increased accessibility through channels like Youtube Gaming and Twitch live streaming, competitive gaming is finally hitting the mainstream in Europe and Gfinity is gathering momentum to help push eSports within the UK to a professional level. The beauty is that everyone can join the party, even as a spectator and it’s a great example of how inclusive the games industry is.
Another key theme from the event is that console devs seem to have finally caught up with the hardware, with some massive titles hitting the shops over next few months. Those Christmas lists will be LONG this year. Compared to the more tentative earlier days of 2013/14, the choice of 2015/6 titles is vast with the appetite to play as strong as ever judging by the 3 hour queues - The Division seemed to have the biggest. EGX is a fantastic showcase for new releases and really adds to the anticipation. Not only that but it’s a real opportunity to gather the priceless value of direct player feedback, particularly for smaller devs who may not have access to large-scale testing like the big guns.
Over at Rezzed we were really pleased to see that interest in the Indies this year seems to have just exploded. Perhaps this is down to closing the quality gap between the indie devs and the AAAs. Games like space-shooter Aeero stood out for amazing visuals carefully balancing stylized and photo-realistic art - look out for that one early next year from the team at Mad Fellows in Leamington Spa.
Another massive hit with the crowds was Gangbeasts by Sheffield-based Indie, Boneloaf. The level of amusement was palpable as friends and family grappled which each other to chuck rival characters to certain demise in hilarious comic-violence style. Great to hear that Boneloaf are in talks with Coatsink on an exciting new collaboration too - watch this space.
From chatting with many devs there are still words to the wise for Indies who are hyper-keen to get their games out. Publishers may part with some money up front, but success can be short-lived if Indies don’t get in to the back-end detail of the deal and see just how many units they need to sell to win back return on investment. Passion, enthusiasm and belief are all pre-requisites to success, but balancing the right commercials with development is still the key to an Indie’s long term survival.
Tech-wise there was a LOT of buzz around VR, contrary to the recent pervasion of the ‘VR won’t impact games at home’ drum being beaten in the press. We reckon the appetite for this level of emersion is as bold as ever. One of the games fully utilising this tech is Matt Southern’s new studio Mint Games who are behind the enormously fun, roller coaster stomach churner Vrtigo. This is another one to watch out for using Oculus Rift as soon as the right publisher comes along.
We heard a lot to demonstrate the huge popularity of Unity. It’s also fantastic to see just how powerful Dice’s Frostbite can be when looking at the jaw-dropping Starwars Battlefront. Our own Si Pittam will be one of many struggling to sleep on Battlefront Eve before November 17th!
Our other favourite picks of the games were Creative Assembly’s fantasy/strategy triumph Warhammer for Lee Burns and Si McFarland, and Wailing Heights came top for our Will Hudson. Will’s always had a soft spot for ghosts and zombies but adding comic-book styling in to the mix is a dream come true! All in all a hugely successful EGX this year and the whole event felt like the beating heart of the UK game industry, bringing delight to the players and good business to the studios involved. Roll on EGX 2016!