E3 is dead. Now what?

Originally published at: E3 is dead. Now what? | Boing Boing

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With digital distribution the purpose of E3 (letting retail buyers see what is coming out) is gone, so this makes sense.

PAX already has the US gamer convention side sewn up, and whatever Geoff Keighley’s thing is called takes care of the publisher/developer announcements, so I am not really sure what E3 would even be for now.

It’s too bad, in a way, I had fun at the three that I attended


I used to have a job that involved designing video game packaging and print manuals back in the early 2000s so I got free tickets to E3 a few times. The first time was awe-inspiring; Sony and Microsoft had recently launched their next-gen platforms (PlayStation 2 and Xbox) and Nintendo was hyping the GameCube. The second time I went the novelty had mostly worn off and the one booth running a demo of the game I’d been working on assets for was pretty underwhelming. The third time I had a chance to attend I didn’t even bother going.

It is not lost on me that the skills I brought to the table at the time (print and packaging design) are almost entirely obsolete in the gaming industry now.


Now we get more and more press events by big developers and publishers. Not to mention fewer chances for quirky little developers and makers of bizarre peripherals to shine.


Could quirky developers even afford E3?


I’m thinking back to the 90s when it was more of a free for all.

In that sense, it’s been dead for a while.


Good riddance. I have PTSD from hearing those two letters E and 3 spoken together.

Twenty years of crunch time to hit artificial deadlines created for that show, then three days on my feet yelling over noise about the game while getting groped by sweaty incels. Oh, and sitting in three hours of downtown LA traffic to get there and back every day because my boss said I have to be there.

Fuck all of it.


I mean, originally, it made sense as a press event, as the gaming press were the gatekeepers for what information about games made it to consumers. (Having a singular event where various game companies were presenting collectively guaranteed access to reporters, even if individual companies had to compete to get their attention.) But that stopped being true decades ago. The event itself was increasingly unnecessary noise for most companies there, making it harder to get attention. It really demonstrates how much money gets spent in business because “that’s how things are done” - it’s wild how pure inertia kept it going for at least a decade beyond where it was useful. It took covid forcing them to go online, for something that was substantially cheaper and probably a lot more effective, to actually admit the obvious.

That’s PAX and even GDC, and smaller, local events, now. (For the quirkiest, most bizarre peripherals, see: https://gdconf.com/alt-ctrl-gdc )

Honestly, in the last 15 years, it was impossible to justify the expenditure even for some good-sized publishers. I worked for a number of studios owned by fairly large Asian publishers, and we never went to E3, neither the studio nor the publisher.


There’s always TGS. I’m looking forward to this year.


So much this. The entire time I was in the industry, every year the big companies all said, “We may not have a booth this year. It doesn’t seem very useful”. Then they’d spend even more than last year and nobody really knew why. Literally all they would do on the main floor is show the same trailers on huge screens that were running online anyway. Sometimes you could get your hands on the games which was nice, but usually only a couple of weeks before release anyway. In the very early days, companies would show early prototypes, so that had value for being there in person. They stopped doing that in the late 90s though, because it created bad press to show bugs and have unfinished screenshots published. So they switched to showing either fully complete games, or the demos would be faked. I was part of more than one effort to fake gameplay for E3. For a squad shooter that I worked on, the entire live demo given by the director was fake. We rehearsed him holding a controller and pushing buttons in time with what has happening on screen. The game was far from ready to show so we faked the whole thing. About a quarter of what we showed in that demo ever made it into what shipped. Also, faking that demo took three months of crunch. Then we had to crunch more to get the real game back on schedule from losing those three months.

Fuck E3.


E3 is dead. Long live CES!


I know some games have special packaging editions, or indie games that make physical copies with manuals and nice boxes, but yes, we have largely done away with anything past the outer cover. :confused:

CDs are very sparse with their booklets, if they have any, as well.

I miss that extra bit of stuff with my media. I was one of those kids who would read the whole manual of an NES game.


I was a big fan of all the stuff that came with the Infocom games.


I’m waiting patiently for EA to get a booth at G2E, TBH. /sarcasm

(G2E is the big expo for the casino industry; EA is fond of loot boxes.)

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Find a quiet spot out in the wilderness.
Dig an appropriately sized hole, under the cover of darkness.
Deposit one E3 into hole and cover.
Make sure to hide your tracks so that no one can resurrect this zombified corpse of a trade show.


Oh gods yeah, the demos. So much backlash from angry gamers when the actual game didn’t resemble the demo, even in really minor ways - I think it ended up really hurting sales in at least a number of cases. Publishers are so much more careful about those sorts of things now, and it still bites them in the ass on the regular.


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