And so here we are: the week in June we have come to expect all the biggest gaming news for the year to take place in has arrived. E3 has been the event on the calendar every fan, journalist, and developer alike would look forward to, safe in the knowledge something big was about to go down. It was an incredibly exciting time — all the big platform holders and publishers were about to strut their stuff with new game announcements and reveals. For over 20 years, it was the place to be. Then COVID happened, and the event (perhaps deservingly) has never recovered.
In a time when companies can produce their own livestreams and have journalists preview games without leaving the comfort of their living room, the convention is indeed a relic of the past. No longer do fans and writers need to fly over to Los Angeles to guarantee themselves hands on time with the latest titles, no longer do publishers need to invest so much money into booth space. The death of E3 should probably be seen as a net positive for all, and yet I cannot help but miss it so very much.
The reason for that is its replacement: Summer Game Fest. I think Geoff Keighley is doing an excellent job of keeping the spirit of E3 alive with Summer Game Fest Live and trying to work as an aggregator for the other companies, but it clearly just isn't working. Some firms are playing ball; others most definitely aren't. Yes, most of the major players are signed up, but the proof of their commitment will be in the pudding: will Geoff's live show have just scraps handed to him by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, or will there actually be worthwhile announcements?
You need only look at the overall schedule for Summer Game Fest to see why I'm not particularly excited for this coming week. Besides last week's unexpectedly excellent State of Play showcase — headliners like Resident Evil 4, Street Fighter 6, and Final Fantasy XVI were really pleasant surprises — we have the aforementioned Summer Game Fest Live, the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, and... well... that's about it. There are some more indie-focused events throughout the week, and maybe there'll be a Nintendo Direct, but if you're looking for big showcases, that's your lot.
I expect Microsoft to put on a great show, but you lot in the comments section crucify me for the mere mention of the team in green, so I won't talk about Starfield, Avowed, or Fable. If you're looking for PS5, PS4 announcements, though, it's really just the Summer Game Fest Live showcase you've got to tune in to.
This is why I miss E3. While Sony did drop out in the later years, there was an expectation pretty much everyone would be there — even if EA and Activision were theoretically doing their own thing in a separate building just across the car park. You couldn't get away with an off-year; everyone needed to be on their A-game. This is what helped make the best conferences; Sony's E3 2015 and 2016 showcases come to mind immediately.
Shows like them just don't really happen anymore. Companies are able to spread their announcements throughout the year now, which is a good thing. Every event has the possibility of housing something big — particularly in Sony's case since we hardly know any of its upcoming first-party titles. And then you add on top the fact the company running E3, the ESA, isn't particularly great, we have another reason to celebrate the event's demise. The ESA did, after all, dox thousands of journalists.
The gaming industry is better off without E3, but as we reach the week it usually takes place, I can't help but miss it. I miss the Monday evening as EA, Ubisoft, and Sony delivered the goods within hours of one another. Yes, the EA show was usually kind of crap and Sony always started its event at 2am UK time, but those were traditions I've come to miss. I miss speculating each and every showcase, predicting what each one might contain. I miss stocking up on drinks, sweets, and chocolate to enjoy whilst watching the shows.
Those were magical, special times where I'd book time off work (now it's my job to cover them) in order to fully enjoy the week. Now, it's a handful of livestreams and a packet of crisps. As outdated as you are E3, I miss you this week.
How do you feel about E3 nowadays? Do you miss the show or is the Summer Game Fest a better alternative? Place your vote in our poll and expand on your thoughts in the comments below.