To just begin with my conclusion; This year’s E3 felt like a quiet one. But it’s difficult to really pin down why this might have been. At least, coming from the perspective of person who only consumed it from the other side of the world via the internet.
The general murmurings around E3 is that it’s experiencing it’s last gasps at life. Although that’s been the narrative surrounding the show for the past half decade. Nintendo pulling out of live conferences, the doors opening the public and now publishers like Sony pulling out paint a picture that the E3 of old might become a thing of the past.
2019’s most conspicuous example of this, at least to me, was really apparent when it came to what the show lacked. Namely, the presence of Sony, Activation and EA as part of the slate of major press conferences.
For most of the world, those stage shows are E3. And a lack of three massive publishers in attendance made the whole show feel more hollow than it’s ever been. It doesn’t feel like the marquee event of video games in remotely the same way that it used to.
But it’s difficult for me declare this the death of E3 because of this, even if those publishers had been present, we’re in the winter period of the current console generation. Both Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles are due for release within the next two years, yet it’s still slightly too early for other of them to start showing anything regarding them.
So we’re in this window of time where many developers are investing their time into making games for the release of these new consoles, but can’t really talk about any of them. Thus we’re made to make do with what games we already know about being expanded upon further throughout this show. Rather than bombastic new releases left and right.
There were very few new games announced during this show, and those that were had little to show for themselves aside from a cinematic trailer and a less than solid sense of what the game’s even were.
Very little really got me pumped up this year, because all the biggest games featured were game’s we’ve all known about for months (or years) already. Even the showcases themselves felt subdued. Ubisoft, who are usually the more theatrical in their presentation felt a little off the pace.
Most likely because they didn’t have a fat lot to shout about. Personally, nothing at their show seemed all to exciting. A new Watch Dogs and a crap ton of Clance games. I suppose I wouldn’t be putting on a circus either if I were in their shoes.
Listening to the press in attendance though, the narrative did paint a picture of the floor being much quieter than usual, even with the increased footfall that came from it being open to the public. But that’s the direction I feel like the show is eventually going to head. As publishers and larger developers are replaced with companies selling gaming chairs, Funko Pops and energy drinks.
It’s not a press show anymore. Publishers are realising that they’re the masters of their own announcements thanks to sites like Twitch providing them the platform to broadcast their games in their own, perfect environment, with all their pet influencers on board to act as their collective hype men.
So getting away from the leaky news ship that is E3 seems like an ideal way of having your announcements make the biggest impact possible.
Overall, this was a fine E3. Very little about it got me jumping out of my chair. I had initially planned on writing up a list of my favourite moments from the show, but when I realised they all featured things like a dog on stage, Bowser wearing a tie and Keanu Reeves showing up, and nothing about the games themselves, that I wouldn’t get much mileage out of a post like that.
Nor would I from doing what so many people like to do and declare who I thought “won” E3. This year, I don’t feel like anyone “won”. It’s nowhere near the most memorable show there’s ever been. Personally, I felt like Microsoft had the strongest showing, followed by Nintendo. But that wasn’t because they put on an exciting show.
It’s because they just bombarded me with game after game, and actually having game play to show for most of them too, which is more I can say for the likes of Ubisoft and Bethesda. And in the end, I’m finding I’m less interested in the circus of the show and just want to see the games.
That being said, if the hype for new consoles brings back the Sony and the excitement of a circus-like E3, I’d still probably enjoy cringing my way through the next last E3 too.