Over the past week, the players got what they expected at the start of the summer. A host of big game announcements, exciting trailers and gameplay reveals set the stage for the year ahead and showed an industry eager to move forward into the future after the shared struggles of the year. last in quarantine. For gamers, E3 has become a buzzword that represents a sort of Christmas time for game reveals – with a crowd of ravenous fans eager to tear up the present from the next big announcement. Even among our staff at Game Informer, we have used the words “E3 2021” to capture trends and cover big news from the gaming industry.
The problem, of course, is that the news and disclosures that got us all excited last week had nothing to do with the event hosted by ESA – the real official show called E3. This event – E3 2021 – failed to make note.
E3 has a long history as a showcase for the gaming industry and is no stranger to changes in format and presentation. Over the years it has moved from Los Angeles to Atlanta and back again. It turned to small business in 2007 and 2008. In recent years it has opened up to the public, moving away from its trade show origins. And, like virtually every face-to-face world event in 2020, it’s been canceled altogether.
ESA found itself in a difficult situation when it had to determine the plans for an event in 2021. In almost all measures, given the public health concerns, it was still too early to consider a convention in. large-scale person that could include thousands of participants, especially when many of those participants arrive from international destinations. But I’m sure there was a feeling, especially among showrunners, that a second year without an official show would set a bad precedent.
Sadly, the resulting digital-only event felt superficial and poorly constructed, leaving me wondering if the show should have skipped another year. Amid the events of the past few days, I have spent some time browsing the website which is ostensibly the official digital presence for the E3 event. It is a depressing experience. The “booths” are little more than lean news sites, and some of those clickable booths are literally empty of any content. The companies that included clickable elements are mostly populated with content from older games, and many were not updated during the show when new games appeared. Likewise, the included video content is a weird and disorganized mix of clips, mostly from studios, games, and content creators that I barely recognize. E3 is an event that has always been known as an interactive experience for the interactive gaming industry, but few connected games at this year’s show even offer demos or playable versions.
Meanwhile, the big publishers seemed to distance themselves from the official event during their own video conferences. Presentations from Xbox and Ubisoft remained on the official E3 schedule, but it’s worth noting that these companies only mentioned E3 in fleeting moments, if at all. Some small publishers staged events that seemed forced and unnecessary, claiming places on a calendar only to eliminate a trickle of unimportant detail. And following a trend that has been building for a few years as publishers like Sony have avoided ads altogether this week, saving most or all of their upcoming catalog to be displayed in a place and time in their choice. Other game makers have chosen to work with external partners for their reveals, like the Summer Game Fest, which kicked off with a challenge two days before the official E3 broadcast began.
Overall, the emerging feeling was that E3 was hardly a full-fledged show this year. And while most of us have familiarly continued to call “E3” over the past few days, the event itself has been a flop. Thanks to a combination of inevitable security concerns linked to a real-world pandemic and a growing number of publishers choosing to set their own communications parameters, the big show has dealt a particularly heavy blow to its reputation. Even the announcement that he will return to an in-person event in Los Angeles next year is not enough to block the strength of that success.
From my point of view, it’s a shame. Despite all of its many changing features, locations and formats, I have been disappointed to see the series lose its power in recent years. I recognize the heavy expenses involved for publishers, and the way every game and business is forced to scramble to capture even a tiny bit of attention amid the deluge of news. But for gamers and gaming industry professionals, E3 was also a brief moment of unified intent, shared communication, and community.
Over the years, E3 has brought together fans, game makers, media and business people in a common celebration. It has also become a time when anyone can take stock of the year ahead, looking up from our daily routine to perceive the vastness and excitement of the gaming and hobby industry. . There is value in this incredible wave of activity, and it often crosses barriers to gain the attention of the general public, and it helps defend the larger culture of how video games continue to evolve and grow. to grow up. I would love to see E3 achieve that kind of singular attraction again. Sadly, E3 2021 didn’t meet that goal, and I wonder if it did more harm than good for future iterations to be successful.