How is E3 reinventing itself after the pandemic? | Digital Trends Spanish


I have been fortunate to cover E3 in situ on several occasions. The first was at E3 2012; that was the year of the infamous demo of the first Watch dogs and the preview of the Wii U premiere. In general, that E3 was not so impressive in terms of presentations, because the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 had been on the market for six years and technologically, they did not give much more.

E3 2012 is not one of those that go down in history, beyond the episode Watch Dogs. Subsequently, I went back to E3 year after year until 2017 and I could see how the companies, every 365 days, did their best to promote their new consoles, games and experiences. Not always that effort turned out well, but that’s another story.

However, just as my first E3 was nothing memorable in terms of innovation or advancement, I remember it for something very particular: every year that I returned, it seemed to me that the Los Angeles convention center was emptier, not so much attending public but of booths of companies that, for some reason, decided to withdraw from the fair.

Was this my perception or was something actually happening with E3? It is difficult to answer this with certainty, because the official data of attendance to E3 is delivered by the Electronic Software Association (ESA), the organization that is precisely the one that raises the event. It is in ESA’s interest that E3 remains high, because the space that companies pay for is expensive and the Los Angeles convention center should not be a cheap place.

Even so, there is some data that confirms my appreciation that E3 did indeed lose traction as the 2010s progressed. A study from the communications agency Evolve PR reveals that, from 2017 onwards, the impact of E3 has waned. Not only in terms of the number of attendees, but also in terms of general media coverage and the number of articles that were published about what is happening with the fair.

And this, consequently, causes companies that produce video games to seriously evaluate whether being at E3 is as convenient as before or not. As I mentioned before, for any company, participating in E3 is expensive. There are some such as Microsoft, Nintendo or Sony that do have enough financial support to be there every year and despite this, PlayStation withdrew from the event in 2019 and since then, it has not participated again.

On the other hand, companies as big as EA decided in 2016 to make their presentations on their own and be, at least officially, out of E3. And this became clear at the event site itself, since EA always had a stand gigantic in the south building of the convention center; from one year to the next, that building was much emptier and you could walk quietly without bumping into anyone.

E3 2016
(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Because E3 is a crowded event. The lines are often huge, and getting to the event without scheduled appointments for demos or closed-door performances involves a lot of waiting times. However, there is a small trap here: a few years ago, and due to the low number of attendees at the fair (both press and companies), ESA decided to open its doors to the general public. And so, E3 was filled again, at least in number of people.

The bottom line of what happens with E3 is simple to understand in general. Today the streaming It is a powerful tool to reach a mass audience and proof of this is that for a long time we have seen E3 conferences live without the need to be physically in Los Angeles. YouTube and Twitch have allowed everyone to be a part of this and Nintendo was among the first to understand that a pre-recorded capsule like the Nintendo Direct was more than enough to get the attention of the public, as well as being much cheaper to produce. And not just during E3, but at any time of the year and for whatever reasons.

Prerecorded and streaming presentations are here to stay and this year the pandemic means goodbye, at least temporarily, to the conferences of large theaters such as those of Microsoft, EA or Ubisoft. So how can E3 reinvent itself from now on? The event is certainly not going to go away, but it is time for ESA to define an identity. Is E3 an instance for the industry to come together in one place to establish contacts, relationships and business? Is E3 a PAX or Comic Con event, designed for the general public? Whichever path they take, it must be decided quickly, because what is going to happen in 2021 is a kind of lifeline for an event whose traditional form is increasingly in question.

E3 2012
Your server here, at E3 2012. Halo 4 was the next big release.

In 2017 I went to E3 for the last time and I have very fond memories of that particular show. At the end of the day, and beyond how exhausting it is to be four days walking almost without stopping, it is an experience that any video game fan would like to live, even if it is to meet and share with other people who enjoy it. hobby.

Likewise, I can’t stop thinking that perhaps the best years of the event in its physical version are over and I’m glad I was lucky enough to be there. Even if it’s because I’ve tried a lot of games whose E3 demo was much better than the final version.

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