E3 isn’t an especially popular expo in China for a variety of reasons, in particular because it’s essentially a trade show of games Chinese gamers will never get the opportunity to play. China has its own electronics and gaming expo in the form of ChinaJoy in Shanghai, which includes booths from not only the likes of Ubisoft, Sony, and Microsoft, but also China’s own gaming companies and distributors, like Tencent, NetEase, Perfect World, and Shanda Games. As consoles are a new commodity to China, they have a lot of catching-up to do with the popularity of PC and mobile games, so ChinaJoy focuses less on next-gen consoles, and more on VR, eSport tournaments, PC games, and new mobile titles. Regardless, many Chinese mainlanders have loved consoles since before their official legality, especially sports games like FIFA and NBA 2K, and RPGs like Monster Hunter and Dark Souls. So let’s take a look and see what Chinese gamers took away from E3, and what they’re looking forward to most.
In a poll on Weibo by 游研社, users were asked, “Up until now, who has impressed you the most at this year’s E3?” Voters could choose between Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox, Ubisoft, Bethesda, EA, PC Gaming, Devolver Digital, nothing, or other. Notably, Nintendo is missing from the list, perhaps for two reasons: (1) because their conference wasn’t technically at E3, they instead highlighted their games through their online Spotlight stream; and (2) because of China’s constantly fluctuating relationship with Japan*. The most popular E3 showing by far, according to the poll, was Ubisoft, taking 57.2% and more votes than the other companies combined. At the time of writing, 4,862 people had voted. In second place was Sony PlayStation with 13.6%, and in third was “nothing” with 11.9%. One user pointed out, however, that people voting “nothing” were probably people who would have otherwise voted for Nintendo.
According to a Games.QQ pre-show roundup, the games people were most excited for from Ubisoft were Rayman Legends Definitive Edition for Switch, South Park: Fractured But Whole, and Steep for Switch (an online, open world extreme winter sports game), but that a new Assassin’s Creed would be the “star” of the show if announced (which they did not believe would happen). Releasing a trailer for the new Assassin’sCreed: Origins therefore sealed the deal for Ubisoft, as the franchise is wildly popular in China.
The Ubisoft official Weibo account responded to the poll thread by writing, “Thank you for all the love! We will strive to bring better and more fun games to players!”
*China’s petty moves against countries they’re upset with goes beyond the scope of this article, but note that when the US sold South Korea a missile defense system, the school I work at in Shanghai refused to serve the Korean snack, Choco Pie, to the kids, so keeping a company off a poll because China feels bitter is par for the course.