E3 is Broken

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Posted by triznoy (17 posts) -

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E3 is a mess. The ESA may be a bigger mess. The whole thing is broken and because of deals already signed it might not be able to save itself from the udder futility it’s heading towards. It doesn’t have to be this way either, that’s probably the most damning and frustrating part of this. This isn’t about if E3 is dying or if it’s necessary anymore, it’s about squandering an opportunity to capitalize on a week where people take off from work because they are excited to see what the future of gaming is.

I don’t even know where to start with this topic honestly. The ESA and the game companies need to get it together and realize what they have here. For five days in early June, they have hundreds of thousands of people not only willing to sit down and watch an hour and half of a companies pitch, but fucking excited to do it. The hardest thing, finding an audience, is already baked into the event. Because it’s still called E3 that brings eyes year after year and the ESA and the institution of gaming as a whole is watching the event drown in the gutter streaming towards the nearest sewer drain like it isn’t necessary.

The ESA is largely to blame, as they are responsible for the event and they have been trying to crawl out of the self-dug pit they’ve created for themselves over the last handful of years. It seems like they couldn’t figure out how to get out of their own way long enough to even begin dreaming about fixing the issues with this event. Game companies carry some blame too, between deciding to abandon the event or save money by setting up there own event offsite they can’t seem to get together and agree with each other to show up at the same place and time to provide the best show possible. I think there are solutions to these problems, but I’m not sure how viable they are at this point. Honestly, E3 can look at the NFL for a blueprint, because the NFL has found a way to take a similar event and expand it, creating a can’t miss viewing experience from a large quantity of NFL fans. And no, I’m not talking about the Super Bowl, but talking about the NFL Draft. The NFL saw the growth of interest in the NFL Draft and the fans started to tune in more over the years because they liked the veil of randomness and the unknown, looking forward to seeing where the future players go that will elevate their team. You had to tune in to see what player went where, and when they went. This is awfully similar to E3 as fans tune in waiting to see what unknown gets unveiled to the world and learn about the future games that are trying to elevate the field. The NFL saw this and blew the event up creating a calendar-marking event for ALL football fans and ratings, as well as event attendance, have been rocketing up. This is what E3 needs to be, and what it can be. But it’s going to take a memorandum of understanding between the major players to band together and realize that everyone coming together is what’s best for the medium. Most of all though, the ESA needs to realize that the current production as it is isn’t working and quite frankly has become an embarrassment. I don’t have or pretend to know all the answers to fixing E3, but I do strongly believe that getting out of Los Angeles is the most important first step. Much like the NFL has done with the draft, moving around to different cities seems like a first step I’d strongly be exploring. Not only does this create an opportunity to lower convention floor prices that are absurdly expensive at the LA Convention Center for companies, but it also creates an opportunity for fans from different places to attend. It also creates buzz for the event at different points in the year as announcing where it’s going to take place can take on an effect a la the NFL Draft or Wrestlemania. It can also help galvanize the companies that have chosen to use external sites in Los Angeles back into one space that makes more sense to attend. They also need to look to something like Gamescom and create spaces for fans to do different things (not limited to waiting in lines to play/see demos) and for people working/covering the show.

Those are just a few basic ideas that seem obvious to me. I don’t want to see E3 go away, and especially don’t want to see it slowly fade to irrelevance which is the track it’s on right now. Please understand what the highest high possibilities with this event can be and realize more people want to tune in to E3 and be excited about the industry as a whole. On one hand there is the industry that has recently banded together for things like cross-play trying to provide a better experience for players and games alike, and there is the industry that can’t even remotely get their shit together to figure out loot boxes and pay-to-win models that has now sparked heavy interest from both Republican and Democratic state politicians over the past few years. Come together and fix an important, THE most important week of the gaming year, E3.

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#1 Edited by ThePanzini (742 posts) -

E3 started as a trade show for game publishers to sell their end of year titles to retailers it has morphed well beyond that, and the fact that everyone descends to one place for a few days hoping to scream the loudest about their shiny new thing spending tens of millions for the privilege is just bonkers.

I figging love E3 but the event is a giant waste of money Sony's Death Stranding release date trailer has more YouTube views over everything Xbox showed, its very hard to make a case for E3.

The ESA isn't to blame the world has move on the internet has democratize media, a Nintendo Direct or State of Play can reach as many people for a fraction of the cost at anytime and to your most engaged fans.

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#2 Edited by MerxWorx01 (872 posts) -

E3 has and will continue to be one thing and one thing only: to make sure that the "machine" that is the gaming industry continues to wring out consumer's wallets at a steady and ever increasing annual pace. Based on the data, the Game Industry as a whole continues to break records every year it seems the machinery is working as intended.

The idea that E3 is Willy Wonkas's Chocolate Factory, a factory to churn out mystery and delight will only leave you disappointed. It's not PAX or even TGS, it's a hollow, heavily choreographed stage show designed to make you feel good about parting with your paycheck, $60.00 at a time. Despite how charming X is, despite how contrite Y is, they are there for one thing and it isn't the health and invigoration of a hobby.

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#3 Posted by FacelessVixen (2639 posts) -

Frankly, my suggestion for "fixing E3" is to treat it like every other gaming and tech related event such as CES, Computex, TGS, PAX... just give them all equal weight and manage expectations accordingly (with consistently failing to do so and end up going on a hyperbolic rant about a thing that didn't work being the biggest fault that I see with the gaming community, but I digress...) 'cause I've been at the point for several years now where treating E3 like it's gaming Christmas, Hanukkah, holiday break, or whatever the fuck you wanna call it... it's bullshit. There are other events and announcements that are sprinkled throughout the year, and the likelihood of missing out on the information presented at said events is pretty low thanks to the internet. Times have changed. We don't need print magazines or retailers telling us what is planed to come out like back in the 90's and early 2000's. We've got instant access to all of that shit now.

But with that said, I'll still listen to someone's commentary of the press conferences, granted that I like the person or group, but watching them raw these days is pretty fucking boring, which is something that I'm saying more about myself since I'm damn near 30 and I don't get as excited about games as I did in my teens since I'm not really that person anymore. So hey. Shout out to those who love games, but I can't say that we haven't had this conversation before.

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#4 Edited by SuperKMx (24 posts) -

The simple fact of the matter is that in days of yore, there was a need for a central event at which the industry could come together and pitch their products to retailers. It made sense that at the same time, developers would also descend on the event to meet with publishers.

Now, Gamestop and Amazon don't stock titles based on E3 presentations and the systems that get the physical games from the manufacturing plants to retail have become so much more efficient that they don't need to. They can order from suppliers day-to-day (hour-to-hour in some cases), rather than quarter-to-quarter. That's before you even consider that digital sales are creeping up. Meetings between pubs and devs can be done via video chat without them needing to be on the same continent, let alone in the exact same building. With streaming and things such as SharePlay (and soon Stadia and xCloud), demos can be provided to prospective publishers without anyone even needing to send a single file.

All that leaves are the consumers and the journalists. Was E3 to disappear, about 200 journalists who have actual meetings and demos to attend at the show would miss out, but could still do all that stuff remotely. The 4,000 other "press" attendees who think they're Joseph Pulitzer because they wrote an article about Smash TV for their own blog once and who turn up just to mill about on the show floor and write incredibly insightful tweets such as "The new Call of Duty looks AWESOME!!!!" don't really matter.

Consumers have multiple PAX shows, Gamescom, EGX and others, not to mention leaks, new game announcements, and other news being pushed to their phones and laptops on a second-to-second basis from a zillion different outlets. Microsoft and Sony already have their own events - XO and PSX - and could switch to kicking things off with a live-streamed press conference. Nintendo does their Directs. Bethesda has QuakeCon. SquareEnix could take the Nintendo route.

Don't get me wrong, the nostalgia and the "this is the week that we celebrate games" feel of E3 is nice, but if it isn't working as a consumer event and isn't needed as an industry event, the only thing anybody would be losing if it went would be tradition.

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#5 Posted by BradBrains (2272 posts) -

The way to fix E3 is to bring it back to the old days.

I want dry keynotes with charts. I want sales numbers. I want people on stage who shouldn't be

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#6 Edited by berfunkle (186 posts) -

I miss the booth babes.

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#7 Posted by doombot13 (338 posts) -

@superkmx: Pretty much this. E3 isn't necessary anymore and seems to survive by a sense of "well this is what we've been doing for years so let's keep doing it."

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#8 Posted by MrGreenMan (223 posts) -

The ESA are a bunch of terrible cowards full of terrible people. Fuck em, I hope they lose a ton of money. They supported SOPA, and many other very harmful consumer legislation. I like E3 and all, but with the internet the way it is these day, E3 just has not been really all that relevant, and with big box stores dying off, it makes even less sense.

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#9 Posted by gamer_152 (14771 posts) -

I'm not quite sure what the crisis here is meant to be, and while you say that this issue isn't about whether E3 is necessary anymore, it's impossible to separate how the event is run from its utility to the industry. Arguably, there are some blind spots with the expo, but it's less important than ever that companies put all their eggs in the E3 basket because, even if there might be a lot of eyes on E3, there are also a lot of eyes on those companies all year round. Yes, when Nintendo do their Treehouse, people pay attention, but it's not like they don't also pay attention when they put out a regular Direct. Which is also why a lot of these companies operate outside E3 now. Huge publishers like EA generally don't need big cost-cutting measures; they'll spend through their nose on marketing if they get a return on it. However, forgoing E3 is not only a potential cost-cutting measure but also doesn't noticeably reduce the amount of attention they get and allows them to more easily control the environment their games are shown in and the messaging on them that comes through.

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#10 Posted by imhungry (1132 posts) -

You wrote a whole bunch of words without actually stating what you think is broken about the event. I would probably like to agree with you but I have no idea what about.

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#11 Posted by aerithlives (35 posts) -

While I love E3, I think it's obviously a dinosaur that doesn't really need to exist in the real world. All of the major companies can just stream their presentations. Nobody really cares about the hands-on coverage, they care about the new announcements. That's practically the only reason people bother watching the Game Awards. So whenever companies make their annual presentation or if they do multiple "directs", doesn't make that much difference.

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#12 Edited by soulcake (2813 posts) -

There's only one ESA and that's the European Space Agency that other one could die a lonely death, it doesn't add anything to the industry.

Also don't become Gamescon it's a hellhole if you don't have a press pass i would describe the Koelnmesse literal hell on earth or the closed thing to a WWI trench in modern day history ( a bunch of Germans yelling and people dying on the ground from air deprivation).