E3 used to be like the event of the year. Back when gaming news was mostly gatekept behind magazines and pack in advertisments with other games. It used to be an industry only exclusive first look at upcoming games and systems. With lavish booths, amazing swag, and oh baby those booth babes!
That was back in the 90s. Back when there was only one show in town it was a big deal. Then we started getting PAX, Penny Arcade Expo, a gaming convention more about getting the games and demos to the masses. So obviously as one gets more attention the other has to change. So E3 opened to the public and PAX became more about the press. Where E3 stopped being about bribing good reviews with toys and shirts to be more focused on big showy booths to grab photo ops with attractive cosplay girls and massive set pieces and statues.
A trend that directly lead to a public outcry against the “Booth Babes” getting them removed to help with the public perception of the over sexualization of women in video games. An ultimately futile effort as just because no one was paid to dress like how we still depict girls in games cosplay still keeps these conversations full of scantily clad people prancing about. Just now they have to pay to be there instead of getting paid. Well directly, they still can get some money from their social media and streaming sites. So what about the games? That’s still the main thing right? Kinda, I guess? Typically they will now show pre rendered CGI trailers or pre alpha game footage that will change so much before it comes out that this year Bethesda even made fun of themselves for that very reason.
What used to be a way to distribute game footage to magazines so that fans could finally see something in production to drive system sales and build hype has now became nothing more than a mass feed of what we all knew was already coming or to let us know when a big company signed a new property. There is very little to get excited about as we get new trailers and announcements all year long directly from most companies. With Nintendo’s own Nintendo Direct Showcase, Sony’s State of Play, Microsoft does something, and stand alone studios dropping updates and trailers when they feel like it. E3 is basically just a time each company tries to out do each other. Atleast they used to. As gamers got overly jaded from lies and publicity stunts it became more about being the least terrible. Nintendo even fully pulled out of E3 a few times just to do it’s own thing at the same time just online. At best they might set up a fancy set and some demos if they feel like it. Things didn’t have to go this way mind you. Sony once made a full 3D experience for the PS3 that let you explore a virtual E3 right from your console. Letting you mingle and talk with others in real time as well as collecting digital goods to use in PlayStation Home. A PlayStation 3 exclusive social media client that I miss desperately.
The expo has been clinging desperately to life almost shutting down a few times. It’s a relic to how things used to be. A crumbling relic that stands only to push a forced bit of hype and prestige to a marketing landscape that has outgrown it. It only hing around as long as it did because early internet was awful for streaming video. Game sites would host trailer Ms directly and keynote speeches wouldn’t necessarily even load completely. They still managed to provide that magazine experience with short clips instead of just still images. Only this was getting gamers used to the ease and the access. Back then we would still get a massive list of announcements and trailers because it was the only time a studio could reliably get eyes in their content. Something Twitter and YouTube gaming shows will gladly do for free now. Especially with leaks and people constantly looking up copyright and patent registries. Website URL squatting as well as cross company promotions often tips off eagle eyed users. Then you have the abundance of leaks and rumors that goes on constantly at Reddit and 4Chan 24/7. So why am I bringing this up? Mainly to say there won’t be E3 coverage here. Not in a general sense anyway. We might cover certain keynote speeches or trailers but a day by day update just isn’t happening. Trust me I wanted to. I was ready to actually. Just we are now done with day 2 of 3 and I have nothing of merit to say. Nothing that isn’t common sense anyway. Nintendo is making Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and whatever else they already have running. Sony made a PlayStation 5 a bit ago so they are just talking about that still. Microsoft still can’t decide if they want to make xBox exclusives or also shove them over to PC as well. So let’s call it now, E3 is dead. It’s like my cable subscription. When I think about it I will check it out, but with online streaming and on demand services it’s just a large waste if money that is way less convenient than the existing ways it’s already been replaced. So long E3 thanks for making Electronic Gaming Monthly fun. I’d like to say you will be missed, but honestly I forget you exist 10 months of the year.