For the first time in a very long time, we all had to go a summer without the usual E3 activities. The ESA made the decision to cancel the event earlier this year due to The Rona doing the rounds – and it was the right call. It meant that months of planning had to be scrapped and re-purposed. Publishers still needed to show off their wares to players and the press who spread the word. But, without any of us there to mingle in person, Big Video Games had to find a way to sell its future good to players.
Thankfully, we live in the digital age and everything moved online. Sure, it wasn’t ideal, and I would have much preferred to be eating a real American hot dog in the glaring LA sun rather than a cold German frankfurter at my desk, but it was better than nothing – that’s something we can all agree on.
Xbox chief Phil Spencer has spoken about the shift to digital events and hinted that they may be a bigger part going into the future. Speaking to Gamereactor, Phil Spencer was optimistic about how this year’s events went, all things considered.
It’s not safe to do that now, so I’m not questioning the decision that was made. But I think we can do both. I think we can have strong digital platforms where we reach tens of millions if not hundreds of millions of viewers, but I also like that physical community, I think it’s a healthy thing for our industry, and I like to see us continue to work in how we celebrate gaming together as fans of this art form. And that’s an area I like us to see continue focusing on.
There’s no denying that there’s nothing quite like being at E3. The horrible carpets, the long queues, and the ice-cold air-conditioning (which I love) are all part of the E3 experience, at least for those of us who make the summer pilgrimage to LA in the summer.
However, digital events are cheaper with less overheads and more reach. In some ways, it’s actually better. Instead of gaming press being sat watching one presentation and then moving on to another, we’re free to see, report, and then move on to the next one. The flow of news is quicker but ultimately less personal. The real highlight of E3, at least for me, are the little stories that come about from walking the halls, or, in my case, the entire experience with a stay in Las Vegas. This year was no a go on that front, and it might be the same next year if The Rona doesn’t get brought under control. But at least we’ll have digital events and publishers will be far more prepared for that eventuality, should the need arise.
The future of E3 could be split between the main event and online events, and if that means more people can get involved, fantastic.