For years now, June has become a significant month for those following gaming news, thanks to the annual tradition that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo. While the real action may take place in Los Angeles, the majority of the participants end up being viewers at home, who follow along with the press conferences that take place before the actual convention opens to the media. In recent years, those press conferences have often taken place on the Monday before E3, with an outlier or two here and there. But lately, more developers have decided to have their showcases multiple days prior to E3 kicking off, resulting in a more divided flow of the usual reveals, trailers and announcements that arise during these events. From a personal and professional standpoint, these intervals between press conferences only stand to lessen the hype and presence of E3 as a whole, which is troubling for an event that continually has its significance questioned.
This year represents the largest spread yet, with Microsoft and EA both backing up their press conferences by a day to Sunday and Saturday respectively, in addition to Bethesda’s usual time slot of Sunday night. If we assume that Ubisoft and Nintendo will both hold their usual events at the same time as the past few years, then that only leaves two of the major publishers with press conferences on Monday: Sony and Ubisoft. Throw in the PC Gaming Show, which has often received a mixed reception during its brief tenure, and the day before E3 has nowhere near the same magnitude that it used to hold, changing it from arguably the most important day in gaming news for the year to a day that, at best, only has a slight advantage to the few days that follow and precede it. As someone who has only experienced the glamor of E3 remotely up to this point, this drop in importance lessens the simplicity for organizing a gathering with friends, and ruins any opportunity to come together for a twelve-hour period and celebrate the excitement and surprise that E3 and gaming as a whole is able to offer.
E3 also represents one of the few times of the year that video games, despite their worldwide appeal and profit, tend to make their way into mainstream news. Referring to E3 as the “Super Bowl for video games” is a common comparison that makes sense in some respects, but with the new multi-day format for press conferences, some of that allure of E3 may get lost with so many of the announcements taking place over the weekend. It’s still true that the actual convention will still take place during the usual Tuesday-to-Thursday period, but prior years have shown that the majority of the mainstream coverage takes place during the Monday and Tuesday time period. There’s no doubt that E3 will still get its time in the spotlight from a public perspective, but with one of those two main days facing a major drop in prominence, it will be interesting to see how this year’s E3 as a whole fares from this change in pacing to the common gamer.
There is one clear silver lining, as unintentional as it may be, for members of the gaming media: it will likely prove significantly easier to cover the upcoming barrage of gaming news over a three-day period, as opposed to packing three or four press conferences in a twelve hour span. But beyond that one inadvertent positive, this recent development for E3 press conferences is a clearly negative trend on both a small and large-scale perspective. For developers, there’s little incentive for them to even consider any change back to the way things used to be, as these new timeslots won’t hamper the viewership of these press conferences; if anything, it’ll likely increase as the gaming industry continues to expand its reach across the globe. Nonetheless, E3 is continuing to evolve in new and unpredictable ways, and these changes don’t always consider the average gamer as much as they should; as long as that continues, the questions surrounding E3’s relevance may finally start to gain some truth.