Another year, another E3. The time where game developers show their “totally real” and “not at all CGI trailer” of their upcoming projects. All the big name companies were there, offering a glimpse at “the future of video gaming content” and presenting some “World Premier” content (i swear if I have to hear that from another presentation, I might just […]
Another year, another E3. The time where game developers show their “totally real” and “not at all CGI trailer” of their upcoming projects. All the big name companies were there, offering a glimpse at “the future of video gaming content” and presenting some “World Premier” content (i swear if I have to hear that from another presentation, I might just punch someone). There were some standout moments to be sure: Literally all of the Final Fantasy 7 remake game play, The Avengers game that looks like the stunt doubles of the actual superheros, Keanu Reeves being breathtaking and telling us all we are too. But the standout moment, for me at least, has become the yearly mocking E3 receives from Devolver Digital.
Devolver Digital, an indie publisher with such titles as Enter the Gungeon, Hotline Miami and it’s sequel, Katana Zero, and Broforce to name a few, has spent the last three years giving a rather unorthodox presentation. While other publishers are using E3 to brag about how incredibly spectacular their upcoming games are and how completely cutting edge company is, Devolver has apparently decided that E3 isn’t where their money is made and that everyone and everything involved deserves to be mercilessly mocked. Their presentations are something to behold if you’re into swearing, vicious mockery, references to some pop culture somewhere, and blood. Lots and lots of blood.
Devolver has made it no secret that they aren’t the biggest fans of E3, going so far as to say “It’s like a special form of torture and one you can pay millions of dollars for the privilege of.” I completely understand why, because if you’re a relatively small name publisher, its not easy to get noticed next to everyone else throwing money around like it’s nothing. While Devolver is many things, conventional is not one of them, such as the time they created a fake CFO named Fork Parker to appear in their promotional material who is intentionally inappropriate and a satire on the big boss CFO you typically see in video games. So, rather than try and fight the fight everyone else was fighting to get noticed, Devolver decided to go their own way, and in 2017 they had their first press conference, appropriately titled “Big Fancy Press Conference.”
The 15 minute show mocked everyone and everything about the games industry, such as introducing a micro transaction where you can just throw money at the screen to buy stuff (which took off the demonstrators hand), a new early access mode called Earliest Access where you could buy games that haven’t even started being made yet (Bringing Suda 51 out for seemingly no other reason than that people know him) and comment created content so people complaining about their games can alter them at will, all the while becoming more and more unhinged as the video went on. People like me ate it up. It was a pretty well known publisher just saying “screw this” and go full on lampoon mode, mocking everything that can be mocked and more.
The 2018 E3 was much the same, again with the 20 minute show being called “Big Fancy Press Conference” and again being basically a nightmare version of E3. In 2018, they seemed to double down on their vicious, vicious mocking and hit as many E3 buzzwords as possible, calling out publishers for using obviously pre-recorded gameplay and having a guy pretend to play it, a lootbox/bitcoin parody called Lootboxcoin that they make clear has no actual value but can still buy, a Sega Dreamcast painted pink and sold as the Devolver Digital Entertainment System Classic and once again devolving (heh) into a fever dream of blood and violence. There is also a kind of a story line with their presentation, with the demonstrator who’s hand was taken last year returning with a gun arm to kill the main presenter, and again setting up the next year’s presentation.
That brings us to this year, where they decided to harp on Nintendo’s decision to do all of their presentations through something called a Nintendo Direct by presenting their own Devolver Direct. Combine that with Robocop, The Matrix, their usual biting mockery of all things video game industry, them making a arcade cabinet of Enter the Gungeon called House of the Gundead, and them selling bootleg versions of their own games from their own launcher (a not so subtle dig at the Epic Store) make for one successful presentation in my opinion, with an obvious Terminator parody follow up being teased for their 2020 presentation.
I bring all of this up because i wanted to talk about how refreshing it is to see a video game publisher really putting in the effort for the bit of mocking everything E3. They clearly don’t have to do any of this, since their main market isn’t E3 marketing dependent and they’ve done well before these presentations were even a thing. But it’s great to see something like this at an event where everyone is trying to be as business professional as possible. At a place where every developer is trying to brag about how awesome everything they’re working on is, seeing Devolver just take the piss out of everything makes them feel much more relatable by comparison.
While their presentations may be a fever dream of insanity, it’s insanity I love every minute of.
Posted by Austin Hamblen, Owner and Main writer of Endlessmonkey.com