(Not) E3 2022: Indies are officially in charge after Day 1
Every year, I've said essentially the same thing after day one of chaos week: Indies are taking over E3.
Ahem. My mistake. (Not) E3.
A little history
Since the pandemic hit — and even before — the bigger companies started to shy away from the stress of presenting their latest in June. The work that went into putting together presentations full of "exciting enough" trailers for games that were coming out "soon enough" was just too much. Having to adhere to the industry's early-June deadline put pressure on dozens of development teams to crunch long enough to get a presentable slice of their games together in time, and it just wasn't worth it.
They took off, they started their own semi-regular, self-produced presentations without the added cost and chore of renting out big theatres or arenas, and they were happier for it. It just made sense.
Gamers understandably miss the flair and polish that these events brought, especially as each of the Big 3 companies had finally begun to get really good at it. Sony's sick orchestras, Xbox's all killer no filler, Nintendo's long treehouse streams. It was all gaining great momentum when they started to pull back.
Enter Geoff Keighley. His special flair for the dramatic — honed by years of collaborations with the developers who put on events like these — and his dedication to uplifting the industry through events like The Game Awards made him the perfect person to step in and fill the gap left behind by the big boys.
And so, Summer Game Fest was born. A summer-based gaming showcase on a snazzy stage, with reveals and trailers from some of the biggest names in the industry. It's where we finally learned about Elden Ring. It had Muppets. It was good — and continues to be.
This year's show provided new looks at Call of Duty, Street Fighter 6, the PS5 "reimagining" of The Last of Us Part 1, Saints Row, and more. It was a decent showing, although familiar and expected.
Even amidst some of the biggest companies and games of the year, even here at the fabled Summer Game Fest, indies effectively stole the spotlight.
And that's okay.
The indie revolution will not be televised... it'll be streamed.
Games like Nightingale, American Arcadia, Fort Solis, and even Goat Simulator 3 left the biggest impressions on us during the event, but it was what would come after that really took our breath away.
Following the Summer Game Fest for the third straight year, Double Fine and iam8bit brought a batch of fascinating indies into the spotlight with Day of the Devs. After Tim Schafer and co. got their party caps on, celebrating 10 years of Day of the Devs, the games started coming in hot.
From the 70 – 80-second fly-life puzzler Time Flies to the beautifully pixelized Metroidvania Animal Well, every game showcased at the event was an immediate addition to VGG's Most Anticipated list.
Each new game featured some original gameplay hook and refreshing narrative takes. They all had that SOMETHING SPECIAL.
Shortly after that amazing show, the Devolver Digital team joined the party with their unique brand of entertainment. We witnessed a robot powered by the enigmatic Japanese legend Suda51, a room full of video game executives struggling to understand why the "numbers" are so high, and a world-ending video game singularity on the way. And while Devolver kept to their usual quirked-up charms, they provided one of the tightest and most enjoyable presentations they've given in years.
Devolver only brought five games to the table this year, and technically, only one of them was a brand-new reveal. Even so, it was one of the most memorable batches of the day.
Cult of the Lamb, a favorite from last year, revealed a release date and a brand-new, highly polished trailer. Anger Foot — a door-kicking, adrenaline-pumping FPS game jam creation that caught a lot of attention in 2021 — was re-revealed with Devolver's backing. Skate Story, a trippy surrealist skating game in the underworld, got a big gameplay showcase. And, most surprising of all, The Plucky Squire. I won't even tell you what it's about. Go watch that trailer now.
Look. All I'm saying is... the landscape has shifted. June, E3, (Not) E3. Whatever you want to call it. It's no longer the month of big blockbusters. This season belongs to the indie scene now, and 2022 is here to prove it.
Only one "traditional" big blockbuster showcase is left on the schedule. Xbox and Bethesda. The other 9 shows? Indies look to have a HUGE foothold in each of them. And if gamers are paying attention, they'll walk away more than satisfied by this week of reveals and trailers. Because indies are the lifeblood of this industry.
Video games are good. And most of the time it's because of those beautiful indie developers, with their varying team sizes and funding levels, who have a unique story to tell and the absolutely unsinkable passion required to bring it to the world.
Be sure to join us later today over on Twitch for our Day 2 livestream! If you missed any of the shows from Day 1, click on their titles below for a listing of all their trailers! An asterisk next to any title means it's a trailer that we highly recommend watching. See you soon!
All the game trailers for Day 1 of (Not) E3 2022
Summer Game Fest
Street Fighter 6 Guile Reveal Trailer (comb action, baby)
Aliens: Dark Descent World Premiere Trailer (top-down tactical squad shooter)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Gameplay Reveal Trailer (genuinely fine to skip, all things considered)
Flashback 2 Reveal Trailer (a sequel to a platforming classic)
Witchfire Early Access Gameplay Trailer * (a roguelite gothic horror shooter? yes)
Fort Solis Cinematic Reveal Trailer (an intriguing narrative sci-fi thriller with a focus on performances)
Routine Re-Reveal Trailer (sci-fi horror back to life after literally ten years)
Stormgate Reveal Trailer (a very faraway RTS from former Blizzard employees)
Highwater Reveal Trailer (climate change bad)
American Arcadia Reveal Trailer * (The Truman Show: The Game)
Goat Simulator 3 Reveal Trailer (No, there wasn't a 2.)
Marvel's Midnight Suns Venom and Spider-Man Cinematic Trailer * (demon Venom sticks his tongue out so yanno)
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course Gameplay Trailer (this really needs to just come out)
Neon White Release Date Trailer * (so soon!)
Midnight Fight Express Release Date Trailer * (this top-down brawler from a one-man team looks so sick)
HoYoverse Honkai: Star Rail Reveal Trailer (Space Genshin Impact?)
HoYoverse Zenless Zone Zero Reveal Trailer * (Urban Fantasy Genshin Impact?)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge Release Date Trailer * (turtles in a half shell never looked so nice)
One Piece Odyssey Cinematic Trailer (this one's a * if you like JRPGs and have any interest in One Piece)
Metal Hellsinger Demo Reveal Trailer (shoot your way to the heavy metal beat)
The Quarry Launch Trailer (major * alert if you liked Until Dawn)
Saints Row: Boss Factory Reveal Trailer (a trailer for a character creator. sure.)
Nightingale SGF Gameplay Trailer ** (one of the most intriguing games of the show!)
Warhammer 40k: Darktide SGF Gameplay Trailer * (Left 4 Dead but with a big troll man and magic in space)
Layers of Fears Reveal Trailer (remastered Layers of Fear for next-gen)
Gotham Knights Nightwing Spotlight Trailer (customize your bat-people!)
Last of Us Part 1 Remake Reveal Trailer (don't worry, we're all conflicted about this)
Day of the Devs
All the trailers linked here will include the developer talks because they add so much content.
Time Flies Reveal Trailer ** (make the most of your life and learn lessons with a cute lil' fly)
Planet of Lana Gameplay Trailer * (if Limbo was cute instead)
Choo-Choo Charles Gameplay Trailer (a spider-train chases you in this... nah, we out)
Escape Academy Reveal Trailer ** (Hogwarts without the transphobia and with way more escape rooms)
A Little to the Left Gameplay Trailer ** (a puzzle game for compulsive tidiers)
Animal Well Reveal Trailer *** (a unique pixel-y metroidvania for all to enjoy)
Naiad Gameplay Trailer * (float on through a lazy river, oh and also climate change)
Roots of Pacha Gameplay Trailer ** (caveman Stardew, really cool)
Desta: The Memories Between Reveal Trailer *** (roguelike, turn-based tactical, sports, broken relationships? all the buzzwords to my heart, check this out)
Schim Gameplay Trailer * (shadow-based platforming)
Fox and Frog Travelers and Goodbye World Reveal Trailers *** (some beautiful and unique indies from Japanese developers!)
Birth Reveal Trailer * (morbid beauty in a point-and-click world)
How to Say Goodbye Reveal Trailer ** (remember traffic jam, that game about getting a car out of traffic? this is that but really cool)
Little Nemo and the Guardians of Slumberland Kickstarter Trailer (this is technically a musical performance with a tiny bit of gameplay, but it's neat)
Devolver Digital Marketing Countdown to Marketing
Cult of the Lamb Release Date Reveal Trailer *** (run a cult, farm, fall in love, and dungeon crawl as a lil' lamb)
Anger Foot Re-Reveal Trailer * (kick doors down and get your blood pumpin')
The Plucky Squire Reveal Trailer **** (the best thing I've seen at these events in years, I can't wait)
Skate Story Gameplay Trailer *** (surrealist skateboarding is really vibes-y)