Game reveals and announcements involved a lot more physical preparation, often involving the pomp and circumstance of in-person events at trade shows like CES or Gamescom. Of course, the biggest example for the video game industry has been E3, although the importance of the industry’s iconic trade show has declined over the past decade compared to the early 2000s. Especially with the widespread adoption of high-speed internet, most publishers, developers and Independent studios are moving to independent marketing efforts, which in turn has made the need for E3 and the once-lucrative media coverage stemming from the event less important to business.
In a vacuum, E3 remains a very important collective event for the gaming industry to come together and explore what is being prepared for the future for video game support. However, given the expense that publishers and developers are expected to shell out each year for floor space at the convention, companies as large as PlayStation itself decided the cost was not worth the reward. Many have followed suit, even in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as developers / publishers have instead opted for independent marketing campaigns. That being said, E3 can be a good foundation for putting together the biggest gaming news of the summer, but it does have a few hurdles to overcome.
Improve the conservation of storefronts at E3 2022
While the goal is not inherently to entertain players, the spectator experience for E3 needs to be restructured; from ESA perspective, as well as through developer / publisher efforts. The most important aspect is adjusting windows and schedules to avoid content that effectively equates to filling, as well as managing length. The main examples from last year’s E3 were the Gearbox showcase and the Take-Two Interactive panel. Gearbox spent most of its airtime focusing on Randy Pitchford ‘roaming’ around the set of the Borders film in production, while the Take-Two Interactive panel on diversity was not presented in the right context.
Generally speaking, it’s up to the editors and developers to create compelling showcases and reveals, but in the end, it’s always up to ESA to host the show throughout the week. Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken every company’s plans, but that’s no excuse to replace presentation time with things like replayed trailers or what effectively amounted to a Zoom call. .
In the case of Gearbox, none of the trailers apart from a the fall of god The PS4 port was brand new meaning there was very little gaming substance during what was supposed to be the E3 gearbox showcase. Even outside of the trailer’s content, Randy Pitchford’s “candid” moments on the set of Borders the movie didn’t even amount to a trailer for the movie itself; just silhouetted shots of characters on set.
In the case of Take-Two Interactive, no game trailer was shown. Instead, the publisher’s showcase was a panel of diversity in gaming and corporate responsibility, which in itself is admirable. However, using this content as the main E3 offering for the publisher was not the right choice, as many viewers expected teases and / or game reveals (of which there were none. ), even though Take-Two Interactive had tried to set expectations in advance. . There is a time and place, as well as a method of delivery, for sensitive topics like diversity and inclusion in the play space. 45 minutes on the main stage at E3 won’t be that place. , despite the good intentions.
Showcases and signs like these often spark conversations about when a showcase is needed, or whether or not there are enough disclosures and / or announcements to warrant a place on the show. From a publisher’s perspective, storefronts should have expectations set early and in a straightforward manner. From ESA’s point of view, it’s up to the show organizers to put on a show that covers its basics while still being well paced and relatively entertaining. Obviously, E3 is a trade show and not inherently a consumer-focused product, but the lack of concise and meaningful content only makes the show worse for everyone involved.
Creating a better space for indie games at E3 2022
Another more complex issue surrounding E3 in the context of COVID-19 is the potential exposure void that indie games and small projects can no longer fill. Previously, independent projects and small publishers could book floor space at E3 and gain recognition through word of mouth and independent reporting. Now, with the constant struggle of exposure in an online landscape, it’s much harder for developers and even some publishers to get attention to upcoming games. While other separate summer showcases shine a spotlight on indie games, E3 is also expected to create more space for indie projects.
Fortunately, the indie space is generally good enough to nurture games that deserve the limelight and recognition, as is mainstream media in some cases, but E3’s supply is comparatively insufficient. That doesn’t necessarily mean ESA needs to host a new showcase, as E3’s 20-Minute Indie Games Showcase introduced players to exciting new projects like Fallen and Larcenauts. However, a digital alternative to the E3 lounge would certainly work to help the many independent developers and small publishers. Something like an indie games “portal” on the ESA website would be ideal for exhibition, especially with proper marketing and presentation.
E3 is not the same as before
The overall reality is that E3 as it was previously known has largely disappeared, even as issues like the COVID-19 pandemic subside and in-person events may recur. While opinions on E3 irrelevant can be a bit extreme, they aren’t unfounded reviews as the ESA show struggled to be relevant before it was even forced to present only online. ESA absolutely needs to focus on the curation aspect of the show, especially following this year’s show. Times like Gearbox and Take-Two Interactive storefronts should be avoided this year, as storefronts with a lot of infill or poorly managed expectations aren’t good for the show.
As cliché as it is, the main show needs to focus more specifically on games. There are spaces for panels, developer talks, and other content adjacent to the game, but they should be either concise and not interrupt the flow of the show, or implemented in a more appropriate context. Beyond that, the series needs to invest in uplifting indie games as much as it emphasizes AAA games. The existing E3 indie game showcase is solid, but not substantial enough compared to what the E3 showroom once offered. While other aspects of the show are expected to improve, these are the main weaknesses of an E3 online showcase in 2022.
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