Being less than a week away from E3 I thought to myself, is E3 in its current state as important as it used to be? For anyone confused, E3 is the Electronic Entertainment Expo, a week-long event for video game companies to talk about the games and tech they create. E3’s a great time if you love video games; tons of new games are announced, games get release dates, we get to see upcoming releases, tons of interviews and information come from this event. In high school I used to think about going and being able to get all the insider info and making my friends jealous knowing I got to see all the hot games before they came out. This was before the truth of E3 was revealed to me, the event is media only. So just say you and you’re buddies want to go, too bad; unless you all work for a video game news outlet, it’s going to be pretty hard to get in.
As time went on, access to this information became way easier to come by outside of monthly gaming magazines. Websites started getting whole videos of press conferences showcasing the latest hotness in gaming. We also got to see some of the most cringe-y, over the top, and ridiculous press conferences ever put on. It was a great time to be a gamer and is really only getting better, games are looking better than ever and new exciting technology like VR is pushing the bounds of what games could be.
It’s easier than ever to watch it however you want. Pick your favorite internet personalities and you can watch these conferences LIVE with them and get the news the second they do. I remember if you wanted to watch these press conferences you’d have to watch it through a glitchy and pixelated video with the resolution of a Commodore 64. Now you could just go straight to YouTube and watch it live.
Since the event was birthed as an industry event back in a pre-google internet branching off of CES there was a definite need to have journalists come and report on it. It was the only times a company could get people excited and spread awareness about what they’re doing. But now… Now I can watch all of E3 on my phone ANYWHERE I wanted, I could be on the toilet while Shuhei Yoshida talks with Greg Miller about the latest Playstation exclusive. The availability is insane for fans to watch and enjoy.
For a brief moment, let’s look at Nintendo; since 2013 instead of a press conference Nintendo have been streaming their own Nintendo Direct. A direct to consumer video showcasing all the games and tech they’ve been working on, brought to you by the people who work at Nintendo. When Nintendo first announced that instead of a live stage show they would be moving to the Direct format for E3 everyone thought it was crazy. It was definitely a radical idea that at the time felt like a response to the reception of the their last few press conferences. But like Nintendo does with games, they made fun and quirky videos that everybody loved. It was a great way to show what they wanted, how they wanted, when they wanted with multiple Direct’s a year. And for the last few years, besides the Wii U being a disappointment and delay after delay of the newest Legend of Zelda, Nintendo has been able to really show that you don’t need E3, you just need your fans.
At E3 2016 we are starting to see other companies drop from the media only industry event to host their own public events. EA, Activision, and Disney have all dropped their show floor presence; EA will still have a press conference but all the demos for their games will be at their own fan based event. Playstation also has the Playstation Experience, a fan event to show off what they’re working on what we as consumers should be excited for; which they’ve been doing for the past few years. Beside publisher and industry events, more companies are showing off their games at fan conventions, like PAX and RTX, where the fans play and talk directly to their creators or people involved with the project.
Personally, I think having these events become focused on fan interaction over media attention makes sense. In the coming years we may see more companies dropping their show floor presence from E3 in favor fan events, or possibly see E3 change into something more directed to the public.