This E3Expo will be the first that I haven’t attended in, what, 15 years? Not upset at all. I think I deserve a break from the show. I will be a little sad that I’m not/I won’t bump into old colleagues and coworkers, and yes, seeing all the constant tweets from the show floor over the next week will bug the heck out of me.
But I feel that E3 as a show is falling into irrelevancy. It’s great that we still have a spectacle, and it gives the mainstream that once-a-year “go cover video games!” thing. With game companies having more at their disposal to get their games and hardware in front of the consumers that care, a one-stop show to scream the loudest just doesn’t work in the evolved media.
The industry knows this, and I think Nintendo’s the first to really pull the trigger when they bowed out of having a pre-show stage presence last year, instead opting for a livestreamed show. People called it a mistake, but I called it smart. You still had an enormous, engaged audience ready to report on all the new details and announcements, it just wasn’t in front of an audience that would clap on the beats.
Yes there were technical hitches, but so would there be during a live show. And you control the message with pre-canned video announcements with less opportunity for awkwardness. Ever sit through one of those conferences when they want the audience to be excited for something super mundane? People remember that.
E3 is dying and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s no longer a thing a year or two from now. Companies can prep huge announcements on their own terms. Nintendo’s got its Nintendo Direct shows that are either pre-announced or on-the-fly, and guess what? Every time there’s a Nintendo Direct the IGNs and Gamespots of the internet stop what their doing and report on it…even though their readers can just watch those shows for themselves…live or archived. If Sony and Microsoft aren’t there yet with their own version of a “Direct,” they will soon.
Companies will eventually learn that they can generate their own hype for their own products without the need to spend millions at E3. It’s just not needed anymore.
The only thing E3 offers media these days is a venue for interviews. But in many cases it’s like speed dating. You get a half-hour of canned responses with very little time for follow up. Go!
I suppose I should jot down my first-party predictions for this year’s E3.
Nintendo will disappoint. Yes, the old mentality of “heavy hitting announcements at E3” will still be there, and Nintendo has proven they can announce the big guys whenever the hell they want. There will be one or two AAA titles, sure, but the message boards and editorials will dominate the noise with “Where’s X franchise? Where’s Y game? Where’s Z hardware?!” The doom and gloom will rise to the surface regardless of what’s been announced on Tuesday morning.
Sony and Microsoft? There will definitely be zingers thrown between them and I’m hoping there will be more focus on the exclusive games you can only get on those platforms. Because when it comes to system features and functions, both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are so freakin’ identical, especially with firmware updates, that when one announces you’ll be able to do X or Y feature, the other one will say “So can/will we. No big deal.” Whether it’s during their individual press conference or told to journalists in on-the-record interviews at the show.
There will be some great PC announcements, but since it doesn’t have its own ring in this circus there won’t be any PC focus, as usual. However, any third-party game announced for Xbox One and PS4? You can bet your ass there’ll be a PC counterpart…and that if you don’t see a console on the table when the game’s running, it’s a PC that’s driving it.
Thank you to all my industry pals for enduring the next week. I’ll be enjoying it all 500 miles away at my cubicle.