The Electronic Entertainment Expo is the calendar event of the year when it comes to the games - the place where every games publisher, developer, and big name in both software and hardware all come together to show off the next big thing. It is Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft’s Wrestlemania. Well, it used to be.
From its very first show in 1995, E3 became known for the place to announce brand new games and machines that players would not be able to wait to get their hands on. The first event saw the first PlayStation being announced, while the second allowed the world to get its first glimpse of Super Mario 64. Immediately, the event became a place for game history to be made. However, shows in recent memory have been accused of mediocrity, companies have wrestled with how to make presentations that would excite consumers, and now some have decided to just not go. Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard were the first and now Wargaming and Disney Interactive have decided against having a booth at this year’s E3 - making fans wonder if E3 2016 is in real trouble.
Speaking to GamesBeat, Rich Taylor, senior vice president of communications at the Entertainment Software Association, was putting on a brave face, stating that E3 is still a highly valuable showcase for upcoming games.
“Individual companies will make their own decisions in each iteration of E3. . . E3 remains a dynamic and valuable and preeminent show of its kind in the world for video games, entertainment, and innovation. It’s still the place to be. We have a record number of press briefings this year in the ramp to opening the show. That’s an indicator that folks recognize how valuable a launch pad it is. Being a part of E3 adds rocket fuel to the attention and eyeballs and interest and visibility of new titles and hardware and innovations that our industry produces each and every year. E3 is a strong, critical, and integral part of our video game ecosystem.”
Wargaming are best known for online multiplayer World of Tanks. The developer explained that, since its products are only available digitally, it did not make business sense to fight for attention where the retail market is the main focus. Some may dismiss Wargaming's absence anyway but the studio is yet to give details on two upcoming projects: Master of Orion and Excalibur. Disney declining to attend is a much bigger blow.
Electronic Arts are in charge of making games for Disney under the Star Wars franchise, like Battlefront, but EA is planning on hosting its own events, separate from E3 in LA and London. This means that the action game, formerly known as Star Wars 1313, will almost definitely be lost in space away from the show. It also means that fans should not expect any news for the next wave of Disney Infinity. A spokesperson has said that they will be looking to do ‘direct to fan engagement’ over the summer.
This is the biggest change to how companies are approaching E3 since Nintendo started to host Nintendo Direct video presentations instead of a live press conference. Nintendo has seen a largely positive response from doing so, and has benefited from having ultimate control of what message is sent to their fanbase -though it’s yet to be known if the company will actually stop by this year’s party in order to officially reveal the next Nintendo console, the NX.
Organizers of E3 definitely have a lot to think about going forward before they get taken over by other events throughout the year that appeal much more to the consumers, such as PAX or PlayStation Experience. Booths on the E3 show floor reportedly cost millions and companies are seeing less benefits in attending a trade show that is filled with journalists rather than consumers. With all these companies dropping out, there’s going to be a big gap to fill on the show floor when the event takes place June 14-16.