In the past, the time before E3 was typically a quiet one. As the days leading up to the big event would inch ever closer, the amount of news and information would conversely decrease. This would leave websites like ours with very little news to discuss, forcing us instead to generate content about broader trends of the gaming industry or the impending E3 announcements. It is a trend that has existed since E3 became the defacto video game conference, but that trend is looking to change.
This year there have been more announcements and reveals than pasts by a significant margin. With one quick look at what news and reveals have dropped just in these past weeks, one would find:
- Jedi: Fallen Order Trailer
- MediEvil Gameplay Reveal
- Monster Hunter World: Icebourne Gameplay and Release Date Reveal
- Ghost Recon: Breakpoint Announcement
In previous years, just having one of these announcements would have been significant, but how we consume media for games has changed. Before, game companies would mainly save their most important news for E3, resulting in an all-out brawl for dominance in the news cycle. As one could imagine, there were winners, and there was most certainly losers when it came to what would be covered and to what extent. It was a gamble if a company’s product was going to be the one to come out on top, but back then, that was the time when all eyes were watching, so why not take a shot?
Unfortunately for E3, we don’t live in that world anymore. We, as consumers, don’t need to wait all year for all the big news announcements. We have phones, social media, and internet everywhere; news is just a few clicks away from us learning about the latest game announcement—and companies known this. Inside Xbox, Nintendo Direct, and State of Play all exist in the form they do because companies know that consumers are connected, so why not deliver the content right to them? Why should all this news wait until E3 when there is plenty of time throughout the year to make announcements and companies have an opportunity to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds in a given time?
And that is where we find ourselves today, companies expanding their scheduling to include different times in the year to deliver the news — thus allowing them the chance to dominate the news cycle for a short time.
In part, this is why E3 has seen a steady decline in its worth. Consumers don’t need to wait until a particular time of the year, and companies don’t want them to wait either. They want to get their fans excited now and be exposed to as many people as possible with the best chances of being noticed, bringing about this new trend in game announcements, Pre-E3.
As mentioned in the intro, the time before E3 has traditionally been a slow time of year. Companies would gear up for their big show and announcements with no desire to reveal their hand too soon or risk ruining their big moment. But as consumers and companies tastes have changed, so have their ways of announcing the news. E3 is still seen as the big reveal for the year, but companies are also conscious of the flaws that the venue presents. Now they have an opportunity to hedge their bets and tip their hand ever so slightly with Pre-E3 announcements.
Here, what was always seen as a barren wasteland, turns out to be some of the most fertile lands around, perfect for growing some unsuspecting news that is sure to catch someone’s attention—as long as you know how to work it. Announcements can be made for two different effects: revealing or setting up for E3.
In the category of titles looking to make their reveal before E3, we have seen MediEvil, Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, and Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. Each of these titles showed a significant amount of information during their reveals, making it likely that E3 will either provide some further information or be skipped in their entirety in favor of something else. By going this route, the companies involved have more freedom than found at E3 to provide either more information during those announcements, like Monster Hunter World: Iceborne and Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, or to simply be the dominant news at that time. For those looking to set up for E3, such as Jedi: The Fallen Order, this Pre-E3 time is used to set the stage (literally) for even more information to follow at the big reveal.
In either case, companies are quickly taking advantage of this new found time, especially as E3 enters a more ambiguous state of validity and consumer tastes continue to change as the year’s progress. They may not be ready to abandon E3 all together or entirely change their messaging strategies, but they are certainly not putting all their eggs in the same basket any longer, and Pre-E3 announcements are just the latest part of expanding the ever-growing news cycle of game announcements.
The barren wasteland of Pre-E3 is behind us, and now, we look to prosper on this newly fertile land.