E3 has remained a game industry staple since its inception back in 1995. Since then we have seen some highs and some very low lows. We have seen major contributors leave, return, and even reshape their presences through all the trials and tribulations that the convention has seen over its life leading to what we have come to expect these past years. But recently, for every year that passes, E3 has become more and more irrelevant to us consumers. Before we relied on gaming news sites to pass along the information they learned at E3, but now, companies actively stream and share their information as part of the show—with some hosting it entirely digitally. But for the industry itself, E3 has served as one of the greatest and most expected moments for companies to reveal information, but in today’s climate, having such a set schedule is a death knell and we should be happy Sony is attempting to break it.
Consider for a moment how those of us outside the industry consumes E3? We wait as the days get closer, realizing that no new information or anything meaningful will come in the weeks leading up to E3. From an industry perspective, this makes sense. After all, if there is a giant industry-wide show where as many eyes will be watching a brand new announcement, why would it be announced earlier? Finally, the day arrives and the news espouses out of every venue’s outlets like water attempting to escape a dam that has just collapsed. There is news in the streets, on the sidewalks, being written for every website and social platform imaginable. One announcement after another, quickly replacing the old with the new in such a fury that even Herme’s himself couldn’t hope to keep pace with.This creates an obvious problem, the amount of information that comes out is revealed so fast and often that it is impossible to keep track of the many things that are happening; leaving only a handful, in the end, to be what is remembered. If a company is one of the unlucky ones to have this fate cast upon them, and much of that effort will be for naught. Take for example when both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One were announced initially, the PlayStation 4 was remembered for its positive attributes, mainly its price tag, power, and its focus on games. For Microsoft, the opposite scenario played out, leaving the Xbox One to be remembered as a media device with a higher price tag thanks to Kinect. After that, both consoles were stuck with their perceived impressions and the rest was history. In that single moment in E3, PlayStation was found the winner. But we don’t live in that market anymore, and nothing more exemplifies this than the Switch’s launch. Nintendo proved that consoles don’t need to be bound to the same announcement and release schedule that we have seen for so long. No more of the days announcing at E3 and then releasing for the Holiday season. By breaking the mold, Nintendo proved that the archaic timeline that companies adhere to is no more.
From a company’s standpoint, as E3 has aged, so has its burden. The points made earlier reflect this, a rigid schedule has hindered companies more ways than one and thus, the industry as well. But now with the recent changes of the past, and Sony marketing its retraction from the event, perhaps we are finally seeing a shift in the industry for the better that is long overdue. Now Sony is no longer bound by the rules of E3 and with it, have a chance to help the industry by growing past its restrictions.
Last year’s E3, Sony already opted to change the layout of their presentation and focus only on four games. The responses were mixed, to say the least, for those in the audience, many seemed to enjoy the presentation. For those at home watching, it felt a bit lost on what Sony was hoping to convey during this unique setup. By being forced to have their unique presentation remain within the context of E3, it restricted not only their ability to do so but also the goodwill it could have potentially generated. IF this event happened around E3 or even just any other time of year, the reception could have been a lot more positive and perhaps presented differently. Instead, it left a split with both audiences paying attention by straying from the traditional presentation format that many were expecting, making Sony seem comparatively weak. The games Sony focused on are sure to be top quality titles, but by only presenting four in comparison to the utterly massive amount of announcements by other presentations; it felt like Sony was underdelivering. This is due to the expectations surrounding E3, we expect a lot of announcements, and when Sony failed to bring any, it left a nasty taste.
The fact that Sony was unable to deliver this new type of show successfully was, in part, due to the constructs of E3. By attempting to do something different and finding success, they were chastised for attempting to break the mold. With Sony signaling its departure from E3, it opens the gates for new events, new announcement time frames, and most importantly freedom. The classic standoff of every few years, where the new console is announced, no longer needs to have such winners and loser of E3. Instead by escaping the yearly show, each can stand on their own and compete more evenly at their launches by not being bound by E3. This archaic structure no longer holds reigns and Sony is dealing one of the final blows to allow more unique and interesting announcement schedules that will hopefully allow not only more competition but a more fluid one as well.