It’s Time to Accept That E3 is in Decline

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Hey guys, this is Brandon Bui, and once again, it’s E3 weekend! I am sorry Shulk, I’m not really feeling it this year. It’s not because I’m going to be gone this year, either. I just see E3 as an event that is declining in relevance, for all parties involved.

The last four years, I have had the privilege of going to the show, and in those four years I have seen some significant shifts for the event, with the most recent shift being the invitation of the general public to an event that had been, for the most part, closed off. There have been a multitude of other small changes to the show’s structure, but lately, the show seems to have fractured quite a bit, with the bigger publishers branching off into having their own private events off-site or not attending the show at all, in favor of streaming a digital conference.

State of Play
Sony state of play video

A show like E3 is a logistical work of art. There are so many facets that make up the event, and it’s insane that so much can be crammed into a single week, and yet, a week feels like it is never enough. For anyone working the show, whether it’s a publisher, journalist, or industry analyst, you name it, schedules are going to be chock full of conferences, appointments, and meetings. With a lot of companies now moving off the floor to their own venues entirely, the Los Angeles Convention Center is going to be a lot emptier, and this year’s loss of Sony is going to make that hole even bigger.

Several months back, a damning report surfaced that Sony would not be attending the E3 conference at all this year, with their justification coming down to the fact that they essentially didn’t have much to show. It makes a great deal of sense, too, considering the last several conferences had focused on hit titles like God of War or Spiderman. In those months leading up to now, Sony created a digital conference format that they christened as “State of Play,” which everyone immediately compared to Nintendo’s Direct format.

Speaking of Nintendo, they were incredibly far ahead of the curve when they created their Direct. It’s a move that everyone seems to be moving towards, in an era where it’s a lot easier to stream an event from the confines of your own home. On the company side, it saves a lot of money. Those press conferences are exhibits, multi-million dollar marketing grabs to catch attention, and while they’re fun for the people consuming, why not cater to the digital world instead?

Also, at this point in time, how can we get excited for events when a majority of the reveals are telegraphed well in advance from leaks? Last night, a huge report came out about a major Bandai Namco leak, which saw three titles get named, one of which included a new From Software game with a collaboration from Game of Thrones author George RR Martin. When everyone knows whats coming, its difficult to stay excited during a press conference beyond the usual smattering of polite applause. And with these leaks rolling out, is it still worth having an on-stage press conference?

It’s a question that leads into what kind of relevance E3 has in 2019. The show floor is going to be quieter with less companies on the main floor, and in my experience the best demos come from the companies who rent out private suites or meeting rooms, or space on the floor that’s isolated from the theme park. That is really what the E3 expereince is: a freaking huge theme park. Only, this theme park is plagued by hours-long wait times for a demo that is, on average, ten to fifteen minutes. Before the show opened to the general public, lines were already long. I’ll never forget the Breath of the Wild booth line closing out for the day four minutes after the show floor opened back in 2016. Now? With the general public being given access to the show, the lines get even longer, you get crowds of people who need some lessons on body odor control, or people who just have crowd up the floor and make it nigh impossible to get from point A to B in a timely manner.

From a financial standpoint, E3 is a tough pill to swallow. A lot of people travel in to the show from all over the world. I had the luck to be a short hour-long drive away from the show every time I went, but even so, the cost of hotels, eating (even on a severe budget!), and logistics turned a weeklong event into hundreds of dollars out of pocket. While I get a lot of things done, I think that it’s an even worse trade off for fans. Fans would wait sometimes an entire day to play one demo that’s only a few minutes, and sometimes it’s even worse because a demo wouldn’t’ even be playable! In southern California, food is expensive. It MULTIPLIES on the floor. A water bottle is six bucks. A simple lunch or slice of pizza deal with a regular drink can be close to $20. There are many ways to go about not getting screwed on convention center food and instead getting a much better offer with the local cuisine around LA, but at the end of the day, is it really worth spending close to a thousand bucks to wait in lines? With E3 moving to become a fan experience now, the show is trying way too hard to be something that it’s not, and in terms of bang for buck, an event like PAX is much more friendly.

I hate to be the Debbie downer on E3 weekend, but I just think that E3 is losing its luster. I think that the show is being carried on name recognition alone from the Electronic Software Association, and a few years down the line, especially when Los Angeles renews its contract to continue holding the event, it could be possible that the show fades out entirely in favor of digital events or fan-centric events like PAX.

What do you think of E3 as a show? Are you still consistently excited by the reveals? What do you want to see from the show in future? Let us know your comments below, and if you liked this video, be sure to give Gamer Professionals your like and subscribe. Have a wonderful E3 week everyone, and see you next time!