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I watched this summer’s big gaming showcases. This one was the best

Samus Aran poses in Metroid Prime 4: Beyond.
Nintendo

It’s been a busy June for gamers. Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, and Summer Game Fest all held dedicated video game showcases over the past month. It’s the most exciting time of year for the video game industry as we get updates on highly anticipated games, get stoked for newly revealed games, and learn more about when some games we are looking forward to will launch. For work and for pleasure, I have watched all five of these major video game showcases and have a lot of feelings on each.

Just like I did in 2023, I’ve decided to give the major players a report card on their shows. Lots of factors went into my very serious and scientific rubric. That includes the amount of new game reveals we saw, how cohesive and engaging each show’s game lineup felt, and how confident the showcase left me for the future. There’s also a clear winner for me, but let’s walk through each show one by one first.

PlayStation State of Play

Astro Bot wears a dog backpack.
Sony Interactive Entertainment

Rating: D

Sony was the first to hold a video game showcase this year, airing a State of Play in late May. It wasn’t a full-blown PlayStation Showcase, and for good reason. The State of Play kicked off with a first look at Concord, a sci-fi multiplayer shooter that underwhelmed with its derivative tone and shooting. That dud of an opening lowered the entertainment value of the showcase, even with some high-profile peeks at Monster Hunter Wilds, Silent Hill 2‘s remake, and Dynasty Warriors Origins.

By far, the best announcement of the show was the one that closed it out: Astro Bot, a 3D platformer starring the robot that’s quickly becoming an iconic PlayStation mascot. Still, those few highlights weren’t enough to make this State of Play that exciting, which made me question how necessary it was for PlayStation to hold it. It also got one-upped by Summer Game Fest, which showed off a Sony game not present here and had a better trailer for Monster Hunter Wilds. It’s OK if you missed this showcase; just make sure you check out the reveal trailers for Astro Bot and Dynasty Warrior Origins.

Summer Game Fest

A boss fight in Phantom Blade Zero.
S-Game

Rating: C+

This year’s Summer Game Fest kickoff showcase was the oddest of the bunch. Geoff Keighley’s show made a notable pivot into embracing indie games this year, which was a good thing. New game reveals like CuffBust, Tears of Metal, Cairn, and Killer Bean served as the actual meat of Summer Game Fest this year between bigger games like Lego Horizon Adventures and Sid Meier’s Civilization VII.

What hurt Summer Game Fest this year was pacing. This show always tends to feel somewhat long, and that was particularly noticeable this year. The show fizzled out toward the end, with an impressive new Phantom Blade Zero trailer unable to save the show after lengthy, boring segments dedicated to Valorant and Squad Busters. I do think video game fans should tune into this showcase, but it’s OK to skim through it for the titles that look most appealing to you.

Xbox Games Showcase

A motorcycle jumps over a car in Call of Duty: Black Ops 6.
Activision

Grade: A-

As usual, Microsoft showed up with a pretty jam-packed Xbox Games Showcase. It was bookended by Call of Duty: Black Ops 6, with an action-packed trailer to kick off the show and deep dive of a Direct following the showcase. Activision and Bethesda were fully present in this showcase, highlighting expansions for games like World of Warcraft, Diablo IV, and Fallout 76 while teasing upcoming projects like Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 and Doom: The Dark Ages. On the Xbox Game Studios front, South of Midnight and Fable had impressive showings and got 2025 release windows, while Gears of War: E-Day and Perfect Dark stunned with their first looks.

Even outside of the studios that Microsoft owns, games like Clair Obscur: Expedition 33, Dragon Age: The Veilguard, and Life is Strange: Double Exposure all had memorable reveals during this presentation. The big disappointments this year were that Avowed and Indiana Jones and the Great Circle both did not get release dates and that Xbox leadership did little to address the specter of layoffs and studio shutdowns that has been lurking over the brand all year. Although I’m still a bit worried about the future of Xbox and the developers who work for it, there’s no denying that this was a great showcase that never let up and is worth watching.

Ubisoft Forward

A character shoots stormtroopers in Star Wars Outlaws.
Ubisoft

Grade: F

Ubisoft did not need a showcase this year. While Star Wars Outlaws and Assassin’s Creed Shadows look promising, their dedicated segments felt like they could’ve just been overview videos posted to Ubisoft’s YouTube channel. Outside of that, there wasn’t much else that was compelling. For the most part, Ubisoft showed off updates for games like XDefiant, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, and The Rogue Prince of Persia. When new games like Anno 117: Pax Romana or the reworked remake for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time appeared, their trailers offered little substance. All we learned about the latter is that its coming in 2026 now.

It felt like Ubisoft thought it needed to hold a showcase because it was launching two AAA games this fall, but failed to consider that doing deep dives into two games doesn’t make for a showcase great, even if the games show well. We would have needed deeper dives into those newly revealed games and perhaps a few surprises in order for this showcase to to get a passing grade. F stands for Forward, I guess.

Nintendo Direct

Luigi in Mario & Luigi: Brothership.
Nintendo

Grade: A

Heading into this Nintendo Direct, I had my doubts that Nintendo would have much more to show than some remakes. While we did get some of those for Donkey Kong Country Returns HD, Romancing SaGa 2, and the first three Dragon Quest games, there were also plenty of other announcements for brand-new games that were unexpected. That includes Mario & Luigi: Brothership, The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom, and Super Mario Party Jamboree.

Most importantly, we finally got a look at gameplay from Metroid Prime 4, which has been in the works since at least 2017. It looks fantastic, even if it’s not out until 2025. Overall, the Nintendo Direct kept up a solid pace and was packed with good first-party announcements in addition to solid third-party games like Mio: Memories in Orbit, Fantasian Neo Dimension, Farmagia, Metal Slug Attack Reloaded, and Marvel vs. Capcom Fighting Collection: Arcade Classics.

The winner: Nintendo Direct

Profile shot of Samus in the first Metroid Prime 4 Beyond trailer.
Nintendo

This wasn’t the strongest year for video game showcases, but both Nintendo and Xbox had very solid showings. Ultimately, I have to give the edge to Nintendo, mainly because it had more firm release dates for many of the first-party titles that were shown off. At this point, Nintendo has proven itself a master at making video game showcases. It rarely lets up on the pacing, finds a mix of interesting games big and small, and almost always has surprising announcements for imminent first-party games at these shows.

At times, it feels like Nintendo operates on a different wavelength than the rest of the video game industry, and that could be felt with this year’s show. The general sentiment is that 2024 is a down year for the video game industry, but I honestly would have a hard time telling that if I just watched the Direct. When a presentation can make me forget about all those issues and just enjoy some games, I know it’s great. If you only have the time to watch one showcase this year, make it the Nintendo Direct.

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Tomas Franzese
Tomas Franzese is a Staff Writer at Digital Trends, where he reports on and reviews the latest releases and exciting…
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