Since this past Sunday, the ‘Net has been buzzing with rumors of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) possibly being cancelled. Thankfully the rumors changed from “cancelled” to “downsized”. Initially I was all up in arms over the announcement. But then I thought to myself, “you’ve never been to one of these things — why do you care?” I always had plans to someday make my way to E3 to see all of the new games planned for the holiday season. Unfortunately it’s an industry exclusive event, so unless I was able to get one of my friends who works for Sony to get me in, the closest I’d get would be that picture on the left. However, every year I’d watch footage on TV and it just seemed like the place to be. Hands-on demos of upcoming games for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, DS, etc. I’d probably suffer from sensory overload.
But after considering the possibility of a world without E3, I wonder if it would be such a horrible thing. For one, game companies are still going to ramp up their schedules for product releases in the 4th quarter. Perhaps instead of a three-day event with lots of expensive booths and lights instead we get well spaced-out press releases from May until October? Certainly all of the gaming press is loving the prospect of not having to carry their entire operation to the expo for a few days of mindless running from booth to booth — only to look back on all of the lower profile games that they didn’t get to cover. I listened to several podcasts and read post-E3 coverage on gaming sites and the press was pretty adamant about the fact that they couldn’t properly cover games because of average joes (like me) trying to get their hands on the games.
I can’t help feeling a bit saddened at the prospect of an E3-less May. It was something to look forward to. It was the one time when you could pretty much count on hearing whether your favorite companies had plans for sequels of your favorite games. Or, my favorite — looking through the 3d Realms press releases to see if Duke Nukem Forever was on the list. Not having E3 might have negative implications. For one, if you were a gaming company and you’re E3 offering was pretty lackluster or, even worse, if you didn’t have that many game releases at all, usually that in itself, conveys a message to gamers. It’s a time for the gaming press and gamers all around to invite their favorite game companies to the table and ask, “so, what you been up to for the past year?” It was a time when getting an answer was as telling as not getting an answer.
And even in the event that E3 were to completely go away, there are other industry shows. The Tokyo Game Show (held in the fall) is slightly smaller in scale but arguably even more significant than E3 since it happens closer to the holiday release schedule. (No longer can companies say, “We have plenty of time.”) In most instances, we should be seeing close to release quality demos, if they’re releasing that year. And unlike E3 (which is an industry exclusive show — for the most part) the Tokyo Game Show is open to average joes like me. (Maybe someday. Tokyo is someplace I’ve always wanted to go.)
We don’t know the details about how much E3 is going to be revamped yet. Stay tuned for additional info. However, I will say that even a slightly less crazy E3 saddens me, as I look forward to that time of season each year with great hope and anticipation.