March 8, 2016 1:41 PM   Subscribe

At 20 years old has the concept of the Electronic Arts Expo expired? [Warning link] In 2003 MeFi discussed the possible death of E3, yet it's still happening in 2016. But after this year will any of the big software or hardware names be in attendance?

Inaugurated in 1995, the E3 Trade show, has long been the biggest and most widely reported Video Games convention.. that is until recently.

The first of the big three to scale back their presentations was Nintendo in 2013
This year - 2016 - the following 'Triple A' games companies won't be in attendance either:
  • Disney - Micky Mouse, Pixel et al
  • Wargaming - World Of Tanks
  • EA Play - seemingly every licensed sports video game ever
  • Activision - Quake, Guitar Hero
Although they will have a presence at the show, Nintendo is strongly rumoured to have no major announcements.

Previously on Mefi: 2003: Are Video Games A Growth Industry?

Also Previously on Mefi: Booth Babes - It seems like every year the industry discusses if they are appropriate

Also previously on Mefi: When companies mess up at E3, they really mess up

Finally, previously on Mefi: E3 is a Trade (not open to the public) show, so it's bad when even Tech journalists get fad fatigue
posted by Faintdreams (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yeah, I think E3 may actually be doomed.

1. Platform holders and major publishers have discovered that it's easier to just market directly to gamers without dealing with middlemen or competing for space. Thus, every major publisher and console maker now has their own show or showlet.

2. Retailers have their own shows and avenues for seeing games, games press arguably doesn't matter a great deal any more (see above), and the show isn't "open to the public". So who is it for?

3. Historically it was a good place for Japanese and European developers to talk to the American market and introduce localizations of games, but those markets (particularly Japan) aren't exactly what they used to be.

4. Independant developers used to use the event to sell their games in back rooms to publishers and get the word out to select groups, but publishers now have really backed away from working with developers they don't already own.

5. Perhaps most importantly, the "games industry" is really a series of scattered communities that don't necessarily overlap in terms of a customer base. Better to have a show for indie games, shows for DOTA, a show for truck simulator fans, etc.
posted by selfnoise at 1:51 PM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

No major announcements for Nintendo? I think their upcoming mystery system codenamed "NX" will likely get a big push. Especially with the WiiU on the way out..
posted by AloneOssifer at 1:52 PM on March 8, 2016

Not even HL3 can save E3.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:53 PM on March 8, 2016

no seanbaby? no oldmanmurray? you can't have a e3 retrospective without my good buddy superfly.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:58 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Not even HL3 can save E3.

Frog Fractions 2 can!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:59 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

No major announcements for Nintendo? I think their upcoming mystery system codenamed "NX" will likely get a big push. Especially with the WiiU on the way out..

Nintendo likes to do their own thing. Even when it's timed to coincide with a trade show, they'll probably announce the new console via one of their Nintendo Direct videos.
posted by thecjm at 2:13 PM on March 8, 2016

Nintendo likes to do their own thing. Even when it's timed to coincide with a trade show, they'll probably announce the new console Paper Mario Zelda Pokemon game via one of their Nintendo Direct videos.

posted by Fizz at 2:18 PM on March 8, 2016

Not to derail, but is there a particular reason for the warning?
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:26 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think Nintendo had the right idea to focus on doing their Nintendo Direct presentations instead of E3, and not just because they're perpetually off doing their own thing, largely unconcerned with Sony and Microsoft.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:27 PM on March 8, 2016

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's the Electronic Entertainment Expo, no? I know EA is a major focus of the article, but I was under the impression they're still separate entities.
posted by Diagonalize at 2:27 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mickey Mouse and Pixel? Yeah, those are some hot Disney games.
posted by OwlBoy at 2:34 PM on March 8, 2016

LOL, I didn't read the OP closely enough, are they have a bit of fun at our expense?
posted by selfnoise at 2:35 PM on March 8, 2016

Really, it's come down to something that I remember hearing about E3:

The most important person on the floor is the lead buyer for Walmart.

That's no longer true, and with that, the show's rationale is gone.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:35 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

HalloweenJack - Warning for link is because if you use an ad blocker their site now refuses to show you articles unless you either turn off your adblocker, whitelist their site to give their ads an exception, or pay for a subscription.

Edited for typo
posted by Faintdreams at 2:56 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Selfnoise and Owlboy - Uhm I wasn't poking fun at anyone, I just don't know enough about modern games (I'm mostly a retro gamer), so I couldn't actually think of any major Disney titles, and well although most people reading this would know who/what Disney are... there is an off chance someone might not know what the post was referring too. Or think it was a different Disney?

posted by Faintdreams at 3:01 PM on March 8, 2016

E3 is no longer the titan it used to be.

Playstation has it's own fairly new celebration every year now: PSX. EA wants to do their own, Nintendo communicates through Treehouse announcements (which a lot of their die-hard fans love). Gamescom and Paris Game Show have grown in popularity, Tokyo Game Show is also still a thing that's around.

Games take longer than ever to develop and release. I think too that there are developers who are keeping their cards closer to their chest, revealing games closer to their reveal. Bioshock Infinite was shown off way too soon, FFXV/Versus XIII was first revealed almost a decade ago. In contrast EA hasn't even shown off any footage whatsoever of Mass Effect Andromeda and it's supposed to release early next year (I believe).

Activision, Disney, Wargaming have never been huge presences. Activision usually showcases CoD and now Destiny with whichever company is doing the best financially. Right now that's Sony. Disney has never had their own strong presence, their major contribution to "AAA" gaming being Disney Infinite and they've showcased that on Sony's stage.

I couldn't read more than few lines of Wired's article but I think I've been reading about the death of E3 for over a half a decade at this point. I don't think there's anything to be worried about. Not for now, not for a while. Last year at E3 Sony revealed FFVII Remake, a kickstarter for Shenmue 3, and the re-reveal of the Last Guardian. Lots of people tun into E3. The audience is there for them.
posted by Neronomius at 3:17 PM on March 8, 2016

Lots of people tun into E3.

No, lots of people tune into the announcements. Which can be done at any event, or even rolled into their own (like Squeenix's recent FFXV reveal.) Beyond that, there's no longer any need for a closed trade show like E3. The four PAXen, Gamescom, etc. serve the demo purpose better, while networking is better served by events like GDC.

The purpose of E3 just doesn't exist anymore. With the industry moving more to digital direct sale, it's more important to engage with players, not retail buyers.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:28 PM on March 8, 2016

Yeah, and a big company like Sony looks at E3 and then at their list of upcoming games and goes "we have a ninety minute conference...what do we show and what do we hold back for something else." They can and do treat E3 differently then they treat Gamescom, PSX, Paris Games Week, TGS, because they have a lot of games coming out on their console. They can treat PSX as a place to show off a bunch of smaller indie games and those small projects can spend as much time on the stage that something like Uncharted can at E3.

I never really think about the people physically going to these events (PAX, E3, whichever) because they're not my scene. I think too that people watching online surpasses those that actually go. I think that Nintendo does a fantastic job with their directs, their fans really love them, but I'm not sure if every publisher can necessarily go through that route. A smaller publisher like Devolver showing off a trailer of upcoming games on Sony's stage exposes those to tons of players who might never have seen them otherwise. Microsoft championing something like Cuphead is the same. I agree, engagement with players is the most important thing for them, I just think that E3 is still the biggest show in the room.
posted by Neronomius at 4:41 PM on March 8, 2016

Nintendo may have stopped holding a press conference, but their show floor presence is as big as it's ever been. They stream live from the show floor all three days.

EA, Activision, Disney, and I guess World of Tanks, puts a big hole in South Hall. I wouldn't be surprised if they curtain a chunk of it off this year. West Hall is where all the interesting stuff is anyway.

I have no idea who E3 is really for, but as a local dev, it's an essential visit, and still one of the biggest things in my calendar. Swap it for GDC in a heartbeat though.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 10:17 PM on March 8, 2016

I feel like CES was similarly at death's door for a while, but somehow reinvented itself (or is just benefitting from the open floodgates of Ali Baba). E3 probably won't die, but it might transition to more of a public expo instead of a media-focused trade show.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 7:12 AM on March 9, 2016

I was there in 2005, and when it was canceled in 2006, it looked like that might be the last one ever. Everyone seemed to think it simply wasn't worth the expense. I remember there being an indoor, full-size halfpipe to promote the latest Tony Hawk game. It was a ridiculous spectacle.
posted by Sibrax at 2:52 PM on March 9, 2016

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