June conjures up many emotions for folks. For some, it’s a reduction of surviving one other semester at school or the joy of having fun with a summer time trip with family and friends. Personally, June units up anticipation for a selected occasion within the month — E3.
A gaming occasion that brings collectively the most important names within the trade. Xbox, Sony, Nintendo, Ubisoft, EA — multi function place, able to share with gamers what they’ve been cooking up. That is greater than a gamer’s dream; this was gaming nirvana. Whereas different gaming occasions are set across the yr, E3 was seen because the premier. Now, it’s verging on irrelevancy. The present I was excited for yearly is slowly however certainly dying out, and it’s a sobering thought.
Whereas E3 has been working for a very long time since 1995, in actual fact, it wasn’t one thing I straight bought concerned in at first. I at all times bought the information of what was introduced from summaries written by gaming retailers, not from watching them reside. I wasn’t an energetic participant; that was at the very least until 2013.
2013 was a particular yr. It was the yr when the then-new Xbox and PlayStation consoles got here out. Earlier within the yr, the consoles had been introduced by the respective firms. Whereas PlayStation elicited a lot pleasure with the reveal of the PS4, Microsoft, alternatively, garnered scepticism with how they dealt with their first showcase for the Xbox One. With E3 being the primary time these two machines will likely be pitted towards one another on the world stage, it was a must-watch.
Suffice it to say; it lived as much as expectations. Xbox opened nicely with showcases of their unique line-up, however after the present, information filtered out that Xbox’s new console would come with on-line DRM, paving the best way for Sony to sink them in publicity. Whereas Sony was readily available to disclose their huge weapons, they delivered a remaining nail to the coffin by asserting that they’d not be following Microsoft’s practices, to the group’s delight. It was dramatic. It was a spectacle. It was E3.
It grew to become a yearly custom to catch a convention reside, even when it meant staying up. There have been many highlights — Xbox’s Backwards Compatibility shock, the emotional announcement of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, or Sony’s mic drop second with the reveal of Ultimate Fantasy VII Remake.
My favorite convention general was PlayStation’s 2016 present. An orchestra efficiency opened the present for God of Struggle’s reside gameplay reveal. Resident Evil was introduced out of hibernation unexpectedly with Resident Evil VII. Hideo Kojima marked his return by dramatically strolling down seemingly from the heavens and unveiled his latest recreation. Following a brand new Spider-Man recreation to please Marvel followers — all good bulletins in a typical present, however Sony did it with little interruption from presenters and saved the move of trailers fixed. That construction has now turn out to be the usual for any gaming present since.
E3 was one thing to sit up for, however currently, the occasion is unfortunately now a useless man strolling. Within the final three years, two exhibits have been cancelled. Certain, the pandemic was the primary motive for his or her cancellation, however the actuality is that it solely accelerated the inevitable. E3 had been on the decline.
Let’s flip again the clock to 2018, when Sony is the primary domino to fall. As one of many largest names in gaming and an outdated guard for E3 (they’ve participated in each present since its launch), it was huge information to be taught that Sony won’t be attending the then-upcoming E3 2019 present.
What was the catalyst for that call? Merely put, cash. It grew to become evident by way of studies that the ESA, organisers of the E3 occasion, have been asking for giant costs for firms to exhibit their video games. Shawn Layden, Sony Interactive Leisure America CEO on the time, additionally alluded to the redundancy of an look contemplating how the web has developed the unfold of stories; why pay a lot to attend E3 when doing your personal present garners the identical consequence?
With the growing variety of exhibitors pulling out, E3 sorely wanted a rebrand. Sadly, the one which they got here up with wasn’t the answer. The leaked pitch proposes indicated that the ESA wished E3 to turn out to be extra influencer-centric. This meant getting extra ‘celeb avid gamers’ concerned throughout the occasion and utilizing “queuetainment” to market to folks ready in line — it was not what followers wished, and it made them look extra grasping than they already did.
Evidently, it was the identical for trade personalities. Geoff Keighley confirmed his disapproval by asserting that he could be forgoing his attendance for the 2020 version. Keighley is an influential determine throughout the video games trade, and his protest speaks volumes about how tone-death the supposed rebranding was.
However everyone knows what occurred subsequent. COVID-19 occurred, and E3 2020 was cancelled. It’s the first time this has occurred, however In some sense, the cancellation might need been a superb factor optically, given how a lot dangerous press E3 was getting. Regardless, it very a lot signalled the beginning of a doable finish; others have been taking up. Keighley, the very man against E3’s new plans, was beginning his personal present — Summer season Recreation Fest.
Summer season Recreation Fest was stated to be initiated to assist builders and publishers showcase their works as a result of cancellation of a number of gaming occasions, aiding the organisation of reside streams and occasions. However I think that it was additionally made to exchange E3. In any case, it continued for 2 extra years.
So E3 is dying out. The issue is that the occasions taking up it have but to show that they will match the standard that it used to have. As a lot as Geoff Keighley likes to publish emojis taking photographs at E3, Summer season Recreation Fest hasn’t proven that it’s a substitute for it but.
Watching Summer season Recreation Fest this yr is an odd expertise. The haphazard nature of the information and bulletins felt unusual, it was like a scattershot that includes huge and small firms, however as a result of the present was lengthy (practically two hours), there have been particular down intervals; the move was missing. Compared, E3’s separated conferences are extra centered and entertaining to look at.
To be honest to Summer season Recreation Fest, it additionally included separate showcases along with the primary present. Nonetheless, except the Xbox Showcase, none introduced the identical stature as the massive gamers normally seen throughout E3. PlayStation might need been there, however had a subdued third-party State of Play — this was not their A-game. And with some exhibits occurring days after the subsequent, there was little approach to keep jacked into the joy of recreation information.
Nevertheless, the worst factor about Summer season Recreation Fest is that it had adverts. This yr’s present devoted over three minutes to The Rock topless, shilling an vitality drink and his new movie. Additionally, in between the present, it ran conventional adverts that includes varied gaming firms. The E3 interval is already an advert present for video video games. It doesn’t want extra overt adverts on prime of it. Seeing them inside Summer season Recreation Fest was a irritating watch that diminished the general enjoyment.
It considerations me then that plainly this would be the method going ahead. Bloated exhibits with adverts working, not sufficient of the huge names of the trade becoming a member of up, ready days for the subsequent factor on the agenda — this isn’t one thing that will get me excited for June. Like many others, I need a good, quick, concentrated interval stuffed to the brim with all the things gaming, trying ahead to exhibits instantly after one has ended; I need to be breathless by the tip. That’s what E3 used to have, however not what Summer season Recreation Fest gave.
E3 nonetheless has the ability to do that. The identify continues to be colloquially used to confer with June’s heavy recreation information interval; it retains a few of its fame traditionally, even when it has been not too long ago sullied. Individuals nonetheless look to E3 as the usual. By getting the gang again collectively and returning to its roots, there’s potential to revive it.
Sadly E3 itself isn’t trying to have the ability to present that as nicely. And with the exit of a lot of its standard contributors, the present appears to be a shell of its former self.
Will there be a return to the heydays? I’m undecided. Geoff Keighley introduced that subsequent yr’s Summer season Recreation Fest could be a bodily occasion, as did E3 themselves for the 2023 version — maybe the return of a reside viewers will assist revitalise my waning curiosity. Until then, at the very least I’ve Sony’s 2016 E3 to be nostalgic about.
Visuals courtesy of ESA and Xbox.