Is Canceling E3 the Last Breath Of A Dying Convention?

As I sit here writing from my germ-free, hermetically sealed bunker in self-quarantine, I’ve contemplated news that E3 will be canceled this year due to worries about COVID-19. Usually the video game event of the year, I’ve noticed the last couple events have had fewer and fewer companies participating. This brings me to the ultimate question about E3: is this cancellation just the beginning of something that was inevitable?

No-Shows

Sony didn’t have an E3 presence last year. They planned on skipping this year as well before the event was canceled. Nintendo has done their own thing for a while, having a video feed but not much more each year. Microsoft seems to be the only one still giving E3 any credence and even they have their own amphitheater next door that they use for the presentation.

For being the biggest gaming event of the year, nobody has really been showing up out of the big three. This year is going to be a generational shift for Microsoft and Sony but still as previously stated, Sony wasn’t even going to be there. They figured they could have a successful console launch without the exposure that supposedly comes with E3. The cracks already had started showing in regards to the need to even show up.

To Each Their Own…Mini Events

Nintendo Directs are awesome. Everyone I talk to about it looks forward to seeing what new things Nintendo is cooking up and we usually get a few of these per year. State of Play by Sony also carries buzz when people know they are coming up. Why? Because those are the places most likely to reveal new games, news, and accessories — and they can have them year-round! Microsoft has also started to use Inside Xbox to reveal more and more. Not to mention everyone expects Sony and Microsoft to hold their own console reveals outside E3 this year.

So really what purpose does the big event hold? It’s basically forcing companies to reveal things on someone else’s schedule and platform when they can simply do it themselves when and where they feel comfortable. Controlling your own narrative is huge when revealing info to the masses and I don’t see any benefit to giving up that extra bit of control in order to be stuffed between other huge announcements and possibly drowned out.

People only have attention for so much news at a time and events like E3 nowadays with social media and constant news updates only serve to water down the excitement for your product. Mini events seem to be the way of the future.

Streaming

You know what the current coronavirus outbreak reminded me of? That gathering together with tons of other sweaty people in a small arena to maybe get a glimpse of something cool sucks. I can understand having to do that back in the day because no television station would ever carry stuff like video game reveals and reading about it in a magazine wasn’t very thrilling, trust me I was an avid reader of gaming magazines back in the day, so actually being there made it special but nowadays with everyone capable of streaming their stuff right to your phone, why bother?

I’d much rather open a YouTube stream to a highly polished Microsoft reveal of their console than try and squeeze between two other people who are tired, sweaty and possibly sick in order to hopefully be able to hear and see what we can look forward to. Not to mention now E3 allows ticket holders and not just journalists the events are packed to the brim. Good luck playing a demo when there’s a four-hour line. There’s less and less incentive to show up for people which leads the publishers less and less incentive to show up as well. A vicious cycle, which is the best kind of cycle!

Conclusion

The cancelation of E3 seems to be simply an acceleration of something that was inevitable anyway. Although I’m sure it will be back next year, I question the need for it and it long-term viability. Between mini-events, streaming directly to consumers and the speed of news nowadays I just don’t see the point. Is this the signs of the end of E3 or am I just a recluse who hates people? Sound off in the comments.

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