We are on the cusp of another E3, albeit a very different E3, but an E3 all the same. And just like every year we are subjected to a myriad of hot takes saying we no longer need an E3, but are they right? Has the show become stagnant and useless? An antiquated dinosaur that shall be turned into the fuel that we run our hype vehicles on? To answer this I would simply say look at what happened last year when E3 was fully cancelled thanks to Covid. In the absence of one of the biggest shows of the year absolute chaos ensued. Brands just casually did their own thing all summer in what was dubbed a “Summer Game Mess.”
In a last ditch effort last year, Game Awards creator, Geoff Keighley, took it upon himself to start Summer Game Fest, but just having a very public split with the ESA a few months prior, it didn’t seem like a fully realized idea. Geoff had a full year to plan this time around and it still feels much like a spiteful ex just retweeting passive aggressively. E3 is a magnifying glass for the gaming industry and without it, as we’ve seen, it tends to lose focus. The gaming world stops and all eyes are on LA for a week. Internet sites like IGN get a massive flood of traffic during E3. Without that focus companies have to rely more and more on twitter to get their messaging out. This isn’t terrible if you are a monolith of gaming like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, but it can be a challenge when you are a smaller studio relying on hundreds on podcasters, youtubers and journalists to look at your game and hopefully put it in a few E3 roundups to generate proper buzz. Proper E3 coverage for a game or a few awards from outlets can absolutely make or break a game.
On the other side I can see the down side to E3. It very well may seem like a lot of fun to those who haven’t been, but for those in the industry it usually means long hours and non stop deadlines to get coverage up. It means running from appointment to appointment and living off of over priced food. And for many it meant having your personal info leaked to the internet in a breech of trust, and one that the ESA still has yet to apologize for or tell us how they are taking steps to prevent it from happening again. E3 as a whole still has to deal with that. E3 still has to figure out if it wants to be a trade show or a celebration, and E3 still has to figure out a better way to value it’s media other than having a business card and site metrics.
Despite it’s problems I don’t feel like I’m alone when I say that I don’t think we would be better off without E3. When I look out at the various streamers, youtubers, podcasters, bloggers and the like. I see a group of people passionate about games, who very much like me view E3 as the “I made it moment.” While many can be worn down by E3 week because it is their job, many more are out here working for free just to get a chance to step out on the expo floor with a media or industry badge. To see it first hand and write their own stories about their experience. And to me when something can inspire so many people still, despite its flaws, well… that’s not irrelevant. That is something that’s awesome and beautiful and worthy of having around year after year.