E3 2019 has a very different vibe than many E3’s before it. Big companies like EA have switched to a streaming model versus an actual presentation. Then of course with PlayStation pulling out completely in favor of State of Play streams, it’s safe to say the landscape has changed significantly. While the discussion has focused on E3 and how it has become unnecessary due to our 24/7 news cycle. With streams like Nintendo Directs, Inside Xbox and now PlayStation’s State of Play keeping consumers informed all year around it does take some shine away from E3’s power. Now while many have argued at lengths about why PlayStation pulling out has more to do with the current direction Sony is planning for next generation and that they will most likely be back next year is up in the air. I certainly can see why companies would prefer to communicate via live streams, videos and blog posts versus going all out on an E3 conference. Its practicality versus flash, however as a fan its hard to resist the charm of E3.
E3 has often been a massive high point of my year. Having typically worked in manufacturing most of my life. Spring/summer is always packed. Between working 60-70 hour weeks and trying to balance family time as well things get really tough. However, E3 was always that shining light of hope and happiness. Getting to sit down with a few friends and just take in the new games that we couldn’t wait to get our hands on. The sheer excitement of seeing your favorite franchise get a sequel and seeing the trailer for the first time cannot be forgotten. E3 for a very long time was a celebration of the hobby and showing off what the best developers around the world wanted us to play.
E3 has been host to some of the most memorable moments of gaming history. We have seen companies flounder and completely miss their audience (Sony PS3, Microsoft Xbox One) to having truly jaw-dropping moments. From God of War making its return at E3 2016 with a full orchestra to begin the trailer. To Microsoft’s E3 2018 with kicking off their conference showing off Halo in a new engine to the roar of the fans. It’s like the World Cup of game development and fans love it.
However, with documentaries like “Raising Kratos” showing the massive stress that Sony Santa Monica faced trying to meet deadlines for E3. While many fans adore the games made by these developers, very rare do we think about the human element behind each game. The sheer undertaking to make these trailers and making them perfect on a set deadline, and wanting to deliver the absolute best product possible. It’s hard to imagine the mental duress that it must cause. But with fans screaming and endlessly talking about your game over the upcoming months does that make it all worth it? With the big 3 switching to using blog posts and streams to interact directly with their fans and being able to show off games anytime through the year. Thus reducing crunching to make E3 the only time you could show off your game on the big stage a thing of the past. Will this lead to less studio crunch, and giving developers a better work environment? Maybe. As I have become more involved in following the industry the more I have come to realize that many developers burn themselves out. Which then causes them to leave the industry behind them, and we lose their talent and knowledge forever. That kind of a loss of talent just doesn’t seem worth it.
One closing thought to think about as we head into E3 this weekend. While gaming is always changing, whether how we play or what kind of games we play. One thing always remains the same, developers are hard at work trying to bring their vision to life. The passion of these developers really shone through in events like E3. Without these shows I would never have become so interested in the industry. If E3 continues to fade away slowly, and the industry becomes healthier because of it then that to me is worth it. However, no stream or blog post can ever recreate the excitement of heading into E3 and speculating what our favorite developers might show off. To the developers who crunched, and had sleepless nights all to impress all of us watching the trailer live. I thank you, for the experiences you gave me with my friends, and gave us a temporary escape from our lives and problems.