For many years now, the Electronic Entertainment Expo has been one of the biggest gaming events of the year, where developers and publishers showcase their finest efforts to come into the fall season and the following year. But as of late, it’s seen some trouble. Sony and Electronic Arts have broken away to do their own thing; third parties are dwindling from interest; and the inclusion of public attendees have left media and companies alike completely frustrated.
That’s not the ESA’s problem this year, though. The company announced that E3 2022 has been cancelled completely, with neither a physical nor digital show set to take place this June.
However, according to a report from IGN, it’s not likely to stay this way, as a 2023 show could be in the works. That’s not finalized, though.
The real question, though, is this – is it needed? Sure, E3 was a great show back in “the day,” when everyone was under one roof and enjoying the exclusive reports and press conferences, with all the reveals that came with them. Lately, however, there’s been some question as to whether the show even has any reason to exist. Let’s look at the negatives that have led up to this point, and the alternatives that could lead to a future without E3.
Too Many Setbacks
Obviously the biggest problem with E3 is that it became a public show. For years, media types and broadcasters enjoyed what the show had to offer with the right crowd. In recent years, though, public attendees have brought chaos, with people taking forever to get through security checkpoints and missing crucial appointments as a result.
Not to mention the problems with the ESA itself. Prior to COVID-19 scuttling the show, E3 2020 was set to be reimagined as a flashy sort of experience, rather than the E3 of old. As a result, a lot of people were turned off. But then the ESA actually leaked out details on thousands of attendees, thanks to a security snafu. They’ve since insisted they fixed the problem, but there are those that still aren’t sure.
Finally, there’s the issue with companies bailing. The ESA has been charging sky-high rates for floor space, getting to the point that many felt it was cheaper to do their own thing. Rockstar and Devolver Digital bailed years prior, but then Electronic Arts left, opting to do its EA Play.
However, a real turning point came when Sony abandoned the show completely, and Microsoft simply used its E3 floor space to host a Mixer booth (remember that service?) while the real Xbox show took place next door at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. In short, the ESA pretty much took what worked so well with the old E3 and tore it apart, through greedy and money-making choices that resulted in people either leaving or showing disappointment. The E3 2020 show probably would’ve been an even lower point had it happened, with barely anyone attending. As it stands, maybe the year off could do the show some good. But then again…is it really needed?
Doing Their Own Thing
We’ve gotten to the point where a lot of big announcements actually happen outside of E3. Press conferences and digital events (like Nintendo’s Direct showcases) are where the real announcements happen, with media and fans alike cheering alike; and even after that, special events like Summer Game Fest and EA Play (though cancelled this year) made it clear that game announcements could happen anywhere – and not in a cramped office space where it cost thousands of dollars just to set up some kind of water service. (No wonder people preferred hotel suites.)
Microsoft was a big one, as it opted to have Mixer stuff on the show floor with a minimal presence, while allowing a much bigger Xbox event to happen right next door, with plenty of room for everyone to enjoy its latest games. That’s right, even though Microsoft swore loyalty to E3, its biggest stuff actually occurred outside of it.
That’s not to say that E3 can’t come back with a cool digital showcase or something to remain relevant. But it’s like the new G4 – it brings back a decent amount of nostalgia, but fails to serve a purpose that others can do cheaper, and much better. You have to wonder if it can bounce back – and more importantly, who would be excited if it did.
We’ve Got a Year To Think About It
Whether E3 is relevant really depends on what the ESA has in store for next year, and if it plans to go through with some drastic steps to make the show “interactive” and “flashy”; or if it just brings back the old-school as it finally did back in the late 2000’s. This is a crucial time for the ESA to think about what it really wants, and not so much about the almighty dollar. Otherwise, E3 might just be a relic related to the past, like the Classic Gaming Expo and the Consumer Electronics Shows that came before it. It may be time to pass the torch, but there’s always a way to light a fire anew – provided it doesn’t become an unstoppable inferno.
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