Editorial By Adam Leonhardt:
Do you remember when you were a kid and you were excited for your birthday? You’d check the calendar and count the days until your party arrived and it practically drove you crazy feeding on all of that anticipation? The day of your birthday party would finally arrive and on that one magical day per year you would celebrate with your family and your friends. There would be cake, ice cream, presents, music, games and unparalleled joy that would only come around once a year. The day would seem to last forever, but it didn’t, and when it was gone you were left with memories a bit of a party buzz and the excitement that this same thing would happen again next year all over again.
Now imagine if your parents had told you that your birthday could be celebrated a little bit every couple of days all throughout the month, a present here, a card there, maybe a game thrown in and a couple of your friends too. It would be one long drawn out celebration lasting throughout the entire month! But there would be no cake, no family and no party. That’s how I’m feeling a couple of weeks into Summer Game Fest. What sounded like one big festival stringing exciting events and reveals together in a huge celebration of gaming has so far left me feeling nothing but nostalgia for E3.
Perhaps part of it is the last minute way everything came together but I can’t help wondering what exactly makes any of this a Game Festival at all. What we’ve been treated to so far has been a handful of random video game announcements and presentations that amount to nothing different than what we get throughout the regular calendar year. Inside Xbox? Yep, that seemed like all the Inside Xbox’s I’ve seen before. State of Play? Yep, checked that box. Everything that has happened so far has been so par-for-the-course in regards to the typical video game news cycle that I struggle to understand how any of it actually connects to the Summer Game Fest. In fact if I didn’t see the tweets from the official Game Fest account mentioning these reveals I wouldn’t have any idea they were associated with it whatsoever. It all feels extremely disconnected and lacking energy.
Now I understand that with the current state of the world and COVID-19 means developer’s messaging and the way things are happening this year results in us as consumers needing to approach our reception to these events with a level of understanding. I certainly don’t fault any of these developers or publishers for having to broadcast from their dens on poor wifi or put presentations together hastily to account for the way the rug was pulled out from underneath them. This is the world we live in right now and we all need to roll with the punches. But what I am saying is that Summer Game Fest for me has failed to actually encapsulate the most important element of this time of year for the consumer and that is the feeling of celebration and elation that comes from the concentrated importance of E3.
Developers and Publishers will ultimately enjoy having the extra padding around their announcements so they do not have to share the spotlight with other companies who are all fighting for that moment in the sun. But in my opinion that defuses all of the importance and impact of having a huge culminating event like this. By spacing everything out so far apart and by not even having an established schedule to know what’s on the horizon, Summer Game Fest is nothing more than a watermark on events that would have already taken place irregardless of SGF being here or not. It is an after thought.
Some may argue that it’s my fault for having expectations for what Summer Game Fest might be, maybe they’re right, but I would counter with the undeniable inference that we as consumers were meant to take from the announcement of this event. We were meant to think that this would be a substitute of sorts for E3 and the lack of platform for these companies to stand on to deliver their biggest gaming news of the year. Geoff Keighley wanted us to turn our gaze from the hole that E3 left towards Summer Game Fest and in my opinion all that’s there is a shadow cast by E3’a absence.
Yes we will still probably get most of, if not all of, the same announcements throughout the summer that we would have received during E3 2020, but maybe not. We don’t know. Many companies have not announced if or how they will be communicating with us. I look at Summer Game Fest’s calendar and it’s very bare. In my opinion we’ve lost something very special this year. I have no doubt that in 2021 there will have been more time and care spent on how we approach this annual moment in gaming. Maybe we’ll get back on track, maybe not. But for 2020 all I can think is E3 did it better.