Considering the state of the world at the moment, there’s no way we can return to a traditional Electronic Entertainment Expo – or E3. COVID-19 cases may be winding down, but it’s still out there, so until the vaccines do their thing and cases drop, people have to be careful.
That said, the ESA has already begun planning for an all-digital event, similar to last year.
However, it found itself in a bit of hot water when it suggested that some content may be hidden behind a paywall, according to the VGC. It has since reversed course and noted that it will be completely free, but that apparently hasn’t stopped companies from making alternate plans with their own separate events, like Sony with its State of Play broadcasts and, of course, the Nintendo Direct line-up.
And that begs the question – can E3 come back? And, for that matter, could E3 come back? A lot of mistakes have been made over the years, and if the ESA isn’t careful, it could very well find itself irrelevant in the video game age. Let’s take a look at how the ESA got here, and what it can possibly do to make amends – if it’s not too late, mind you.
Way Too Many People
First off, the ESA began making changes to E3 when it sort of returned to form back in 2009, after a couple of turbulent years that included a stop in Santa Monica for some reason. When it returned to the Los Angeles Convention Center, all seemed well for a few years. And then the changes began.
After banning “booth babes” due to some rule with showmanship, the ESA made the critical decision to make E3 a public show, after years of being trade-only. However, this ended up being a disastrous move, thanks to crowded show floors, entry taking hours at a time, and numerous members of the press unable to get to their appointments on time. It worked on improving this for future shows, but the complaints remained.
In addition, the ESA accidentally leaked out the details of thousands of attendees to pirates online, making them vulnerable to unprecedented online attacks. They have since moved to a private security wall for assistance, but the harm’s still been done.
And finally, before COVID-19, the ESA was talking about revamping E3 into more of a showcase sort of event, rather than the press event it used to be. This included introducing interactive zones and trying to introduce more of a streaming element, instead of the traditional coverage it’s been getting. But months later, it found itself going the all-digital route – and it hasn’t gone back since.
The ESA’s business tactics have turned off many. EA has gone on to do stuff outside the show; and soon after, Microsoft and Sony followed with their own external showcases. Now the real question is if E3 can go back to the way it was. Well, maybe.
Here’s What The ESA Needs To Do
First off, the ESA needs to bring the show back to basics. We know they love their ticket sales from the public attendees, but that’s making it more disastrous. It needs to make it a press event again, and have public events kept outside so it can keep a controlled capacity within the event center. Especially now in a post-COVID state. Otherwise, it’s going to keep falling further and further away, and even more companies will drop out.
For that matter, forget the “interactive” ideas. This is a show that was, and should always be about, games. Games! Remember those? It needs to focus on letting the game hoopla do its thing. It worked incredibly well for all those years, and it can again. All the ESA needs to do is get out of its own damn way, and we could have a showcase for the ages. And forget these rules about “booth babes.” Who cares? Let the companies present what they want to present, provided they don’t get out of control.
It probably wouldn’t hurt to offer lower booth prices, either. Having to pay a million bucks for a feasible amount of floor space for a mere three days can be a bit much, guys. In the earlier days of E3, the ESA actually presented an affordable option to lower-budget devs, in the form of Kentia Hall. It was a magical place, one were games and showcases could be had for those that didn’t have a killer budget. Without this, they get unfairly shut out, save for draining half of their company budget for an out-of-the-way booth. E3 needs to be a show for all companies, because at the rate it’s going, it may be one for none at some point.
If the ESA can just focus on the business fundamentals instead of reinventing things or trying to shill tickets out the door, it can make E3 a place of wonder yet again. As it stands, the way things are going, it may just become another thing of the past – like the Consumer Electronics Show. We actually had two of those going at one point, and now we barely have one operating per year. It needs to come back to where it was, or else it’s just going to be forgotten in the face of more company-driven events.
C’mon, E3. Go back the way you used to be.
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