The Electronic Entertainment Expo (or E3) kicks off on June 12th. Like, Tuesday.
Once upon a time, this was unqualifiedly the biggest industry event of the year for video game and video game adjacent industries. When I say “industry event”, I’m talking “not open to the public”. You had to be In The Biz to go to it or have press credentials.
Well, in the days of the internet, “press credentials” became less and less unobtainable. Bloggers started getting press credentials and it went from bloggers at sites like IGN and Gamespot getting press credentials to bloggers at… well, I don’t want to say vanity sites… but, yeah, significantly smaller sites run by enthusiastic amateurs getting them and the companies who were spending millions and millions of dollars on booths complaining that E3 did not return decent bang for the buck. The booths were the industry reaching out to retailers and For Real Journalists who would write stories for huge audiences who might include retailers. Nothing wrong with the folks who would go on to buy the products from these retailers, of course… but E3 wasn’t *FOR* them. It was for the industry. So they went from being, effectively, open to the public to being an industry show again.
Well… the internet just blows *EVERYTHING* up. Penny Arcade figured out that there was a hunger for something like E3 that catered to fans rather than to the industry and HOLY GUACAMOLE there is now PAX East, PAX West, PAX South, PAX Australia… and there were a lot of little companies that found out that going to someplace like PAX is a great way to do stuff like bypass retailers and For Real Journalists and take it directly to the audience who would be buying the games.
And so, in 2017, E3 went open to the public again… but they’re only letting 15,000 or so public into the venue to dilute the show and they’re not letting those people in until lunchtime. The first three hours or so are for industry and For Real Journalists only.
Which seems a good compromise.
The reason to be excited is that there are a *LOT* of companies that still see E3 as the appropriate time to make the big announcement. Bethesda announced Fallout 4 at E3 2015 and it was in stores that November. If you’re going to be releasing The Next Big Console? You want to do that at E3. If you’re going to be introducing a new peripheral (like the Kinect!), you want to do that at E3.
And, most importantly, if you’re the CEO of CD Projekt and you’ve said something like “We’re impressed with Fallout 4’s rollout. They came on stage and said ‘It’s here, it’s real, and it’s coming out on this date.’ We’re going to do something similar. We’re going to wait until we can show off a very meaningful piece of it.”, you want to make that announcement at E3.
So… what are you hoping to hear is announced somewhere between Tuesday and Thursday?
(Picture is HG Wells playing a war game from Illustrated London News (25 January 1913))