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Is E3 still relevant? The alternative view

Only a fool would argue E3 is irrelevant when we’ve just witnessed another absolute cracker of a convention. 2013’s E3 has brought us everything we expected and more. The memes, the gaffes, the unforgettable moments… it’s reignited passions and set us up for at least another decade of gaming. But its worth goes far beyond the obvious community impact.

Certainly, the mass-adoption of the internet has worked massively in E3’s favour. In the show’s early years, it happened largely out of the public eye, at least until magazine articles gushed about the megaton announcements in the weeks that followed. Today, the internet now allows everyone to watch the events unfold for themselves via live streaming.

For the companies involved, this broadcasting is invaluable. They can address their audience directly, without the potential end-users’ opinions being slanted or even dictated by industry commentators... well, at least not for a few minutes. Those few minutes of clear, focused communication can’t be found anywhere else in the industry.

Put on a good show and people will see it. They can be won over. Just look at how Sony manipulated opinion of Microsoft’s lacklustre presentation this year to secure a massive victory in terms of public perception. E3’s modern format is not just a tool--it’s a scimitar, slicing straight to the heart of the consumer base.

But (and this is crucial) only if it’s used right. We’ve famously seen fortune swing the other way too. The damage done to PlayStation’s reputation in 2006 took literally years to mend, which is probably why Sony was so careful to do it right this year.

The internet never lets a slip go unnoticed. The giant enemy crab, the Avatar’s shoe… such indelible missteps undoubtedly makes the big players try harder. Companies have to put on a flawless show. The games they demo have to be great because E3 conferences are now immortalised on YouTube. That can only benefit the consumer.

The event’s annual nature gives the industry a focal point. Something to look forward to. It garners hype and excitement like no other event in the industry. If you’re in gaming, E3 has become THE place to reveal your biggest surprises. Sure, we may have had both Xbox One and PS4 revealed in separate events this very year, but E3 was where the details and megaton announcements were made. Companies always save their biggest ammunition for E3 and that’s why it’s such a success.

The timing of this yearly cycle is great for the industry, too. Taking place during summer months when there are traditionally fewer games released (and everyone’s in that strange place called ‘outside’, or something), it keeps exciting launches perpetually on the horizon yet at the forefront of our minds, which is vitally important. A summer without E3 might make us realise that fresh air and exercise is just as fun and rewarding as gaming. The industry can’t really afford that.So it goes all-out to promote the most exciting prospects. And yes, perhaps the one time where the games industry is actually fleetingly glamourous instead of being seen as a convention centre full of geeks. That’s not to say it isn’t packed with industry figures and fans, with some 70,000 attendees at its peak.

The world at large can’t ignore an event of that magnitude, which means that the world’s eyes--including mainstream press--are focused on the gaming industry for one spectacular week. This one event can reach people who might otherwise have never heard of PlayStation or Xbox. Everyone loves to see a glimpse of the future.The thought of E3 disappearing doesn’t bear thinking about. It almost happened, of course. E3 2007 was all but cancelled because everyone realised the now-global show of 2006 can easily do far more harm than good, especially when it costs so much money without any tangible returns. It was a body blow not only for E3’s champions, but the entire industry. Eyes looked elsewhere, hoping Tokyo Games Show could pick up the gauntlet. The king was dead. Where was the next king?

Thank goodness E3 was back to its old format within two years. And it’s poetic really that the company that got stung the worst by what E3 had become has pulled the 2006 sword from its own chest and used it to strike a mighty blow against its greatest enemy. So great a blow, Microsoft has had to change its entire DRM strategy for next-gen. That’s the power of E3 right there.

If E3 were to cease, something else would immediately take its place because it’s so vitally important. Like a heart that beats the lifeblood through our industry, pumping once a year to revitalise our interest. Take it out and the whole thing would fall apart.

Have you already read Dave Houghton's argument about how E3 is no longer relevant? If not, you can check it out right here.

4 comments

  • Rub3z - June 22, 2013 2:21 p.m.

    "[We might] realise (sic) that fresh air and exercise is just as fun and rewarding as gaming." Fresh air? Exercise? Just as rewarding? AS GAMING?!?!? What sort of blasphemous heresy-talk is this? YOUR SENTENCE IS BANISHMENT! EXCOMMUNICATION! TAKE LEAVE OF THIS GAMING PARADISE, HERETIC, SO THAT YOU MAY SUBSIST ON ALL THE "FRESH AIR AND EXERCISE" BEYOND OUR GRACIOUS BORDERS AS MUCH AS YOU WISH! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! ENJOY YOUR IMPROVED HEALTH AND LONGER LIFESPAN, TRAITOROUS FOOL! :P
  • Arobadope - June 22, 2013 1:29 p.m.

    Opening comment is "Only a fool would argue E3 is irrelevant..." that almost discredits everything following it. Either way, your first point is negated by Nintendo's use of YouTube and their own Nintendo website, that accomplishes everything e3 does, and on Nintendo's schedule. If anything it actually benefits Nintendo more than E3 because the press focuses most of their attention on the Nintendo Direct. Notice how Sony and Microsoft both ignored E3 to announce their new consoles and instead opted to announce during a "dead time" in the gaming world when they can get all the attention on them. If EA did their own EA Direct, they'd be able to communicate directly with their customers, on their time, and for less than what an E3 booth costs. Not only that, they could do it without the jeers and 'woot-calls'. Your second argument that companies now have to try harder to put on a good show is more of a half truth. They try harder, but I doubt it's due to the pressures of the internet meme society. It's more due to the wider-audience the internet allows. Hence why you get such reveals and demos for Wonderbook, Kinectimals, Ubisoft's laser tag game, etc. Your argument stands if you ignore that, but otherwise it's pretty shaky. Not to mention the constant mention of features like TV interaction, and online social media connection, that seems a little misplaced in your built hype-making-machine-E3 you present in the article. Your argument for E3's annual nature is pretty shoddy as well considering once more, PS4 and XB1 were announced outside of the conference, and last year E3 only had one big surprise, Watch Dogs, and the years before that were pretty notorious for a lack of gaming surprises. This year the surprises were half-and-half since everyone knew new games were coming and what companies were likely to be featured, the only real thing left was what the games were in a tangible form, and even then a good amount of those were known beforehand. The entire paragraph on the summer tangent you went off on is so ridiculous and stereotypical of how the mainstream views gamers, it's pathetic. Truly it is. The mainstream media actually still does a fairly good job of ignoring E3, unless you mean in the mainstream tech circles in which case your argument still doesn't hold because they've been talking about the Wii U, PS4, and XB1 for some time before E3, along with the latest GPUs and other gadgets being released. in '06 the industry wasn't as connected to the internet as it is now, gamers were dependent on E3, now and days? Not so much. The idea of directly communicating with the customer without any media film over it through YouTube or a company's own blog networks is increasingly becoming bigger, and I expect it to grow. Frankly your article seems to be more of a nostalgia trip and a want to keep with tradition than any real tangible argument.
  • shawksta - June 21, 2013 9:28 a.m.

    Interesting "alternative" view, you make some point and its true on the "heavy ammunition"
  • FoxdenRacing - June 21, 2013 8:48 a.m.

    As a media spectacle, it's the event of the year for western gaming (mirrored by TGS in the east)...but I do think it's outlived its usefulness as a trade show. The environment is very different from the early days, when the public could buy tickets, the kiosks were the main draw [rather than giant press conferences], and Joe Gamer could shoot the breeze with devs about everything from the game itself to just becoming friends.

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