E3 Is No More

E3 is no more. Although the ESA claims that there’s no final decisions about whether or not they are to hold E3 next year, when the LA City Tourism Board of Commissioners come out and say that both 2024 and 2025 have been cancelled, that seems to suggest that yes, E3 is no more. Perhaps only in the short term at least. But let’s be real, why bother trying again to hold a conference like E3 when even with the team behind Pax couldn’t get it to work?

Somewhere Geoff Keighley is looking up to the Heavens as his face is surely now, unfortunately, going to get more spotlight going forward. He now has The Summer Games Fest and The Game Awards where he can be the man who holds all the cards on the big game announcements each year. That’s kinda depressing to think. Luckily, it may not be quite that way for Geoff during what would have been E3 week. It does seem that, judging by this year at least, neither Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo or Ubisoft wanted to show their big announcements ahead of their own showcases through his own livestream. In fact, Geoff really didn’t get much in the way of big hype announcements at all. 

It’s 2023, the times, they are a changing. Social media has made it so much faster and easier to get word out regarding what you want to say, when and how. That’s assuming your games aren’t leaked ahead of time. There is really no need to spend millions on a big stage with a flashy look just to then broadcast it to the masses anyway. Sure, Microsoft and Ubisoft did have small stages with a minimal audience, but it’s still vastly cheaper than previous E3 conferences. And the bulk share of the audience was still going to be watching it at home anyway like previous years. The one upside is that you can have demo booths of some of your games available immediately afterwards to the on the floor audience. And since that audience appeared to be games journalists, it makes sense. But reality is, there’s no actual need to even do that if the publishers don’t want to. 

Nintendo started this trend over a decade ago when they stopped doing live stage conferences and opted for a pre-recorded and carefully edited Direct. At the time, Nintendo were seen as the ones effectively chickening out. But in actual fact, for once, Nintendo were ahead of the curve. The Covid pandemic put an end to the need for E3 and everyone has realised they can get the same message out through the same format that Nintendo has been using. At that moment, it became clear the future of E3 was in serious doubt. It had already been on shaky grounds when Sony decided not to have anything during the 2019 conference. 

Reality is, there’s no requirement for live on stage conferences. There’s no real need to get journalists on board with your announcements either. Not in 2023 when social media can attract a much larger audience much faster and easier than someone sitting at a desk, writing up individual articles for each game shown. No need to develop demos for booths, though Microsoft and Ubisoft certainly did this year. That may change as time goes on though. Social media has proved to be the most effective and cheapest way to tell the message exactly how the publishers want. 

As for Geoff Keighley, I’m sure he’ll continue to grin and beg to get big announcements year in year out for The Summer Games Fest. It’s really a pointless event. Just like E3, it really doesn’t serve a purpose when a trailer can be shadow dropped on social media or attached to one of the showcases or Nintendo’s Directs. Geoff’s big time in the spotlight will remain The Game Awards. That awards show that’s actually much more like E3 because there, he does get big announcements and world premieres. Just not going to be able to pull that off in summer. And I think we are all the better off for it. 

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