I don't think we ever came up with a great name for E3's replacement this year—internally we mostly called it "Not-E3." Due to COVID-19, E3 was cancelled and press conference were online only and spread out over several months instead of packed into one busy week.
It was definitely different. But what did you think of this summer's press conferences? Was the \format better than previous E3s? Worse? Ultimately about the same? Was there anything you missed about the traditional E3?
Below we've got our answers and a few from the PC Gamer forums. Give us your take in the comments.
Graeme Meredith: I always look forward to the E3 season each year, so it was nice to see people trying to keep the mood going even with the pandemic (some conceal their desire to sell better than others, but that's nothing new).
That being said, I don't think E3 running for an indefinite period of weeks or months is an improvement, and if anything it proved that a contained expo is so much easier to digest, for me at least. I much prefer to have a rush of news and then to take time to review and consider my thoughts afterward, rather than this alternative of companies looking for my attention seemingly all the time. The competitive slant to E3 is also something I quite enjoy, and that was rightfully left to one side while people have more important things to think about in life—I hope it returns in future though. While the 'winner' is fairly irrelevant, the potential drama is enjoyable.
Steven Messner: I'm with Graeme. As much as people love to complain about the physical elements of E3, it's also a special time where a big part of the games industry can get together. I miss the socializing most of all, but I also miss the condensed excitement that comes from a week of announcements. It's nice to spend a few days seeing all the big stuff coming, write about it, and then get it out my system for awhile. But this Summer of E3 has really dragged on, diluting the excitement.
Jody Macgregor: I have been informed the E3 that Never Ends (It Just Goes On and On, My Friends) has made some console warriors and publisher fanboys sad because it means they do not have a definitive end date upon which they can confidently declare who "won E3" for the year. This has made me happy. I drink their tears. The only thing I miss about E3 is Ubisoft's annual Just Dance routine, but maybe they're saving the dancing panda for the next Ubisoft Forward showcase, or one of the 12 more digital showcases I confidently expect to follow it.
Lauren Morton: I've never been to E3 in person, so I don't feel any particular way about missing out on the physical presence. I did find the endless summer of livestreams pretty exhausting. The magic of E3 for me has always been like that of a sleepaway camp or finals week in high school. There's something exhilarating about the frenzy of reveals and following them alongside friends and colleagues. It's exhausting, sure, but for a finite period of time that you can punch through with caffeine and willpower once a year to make you feel alive. I miss that concentrated excitement. This year we started "E3" in May, have yet another Ubisoft Forward still in September, which leads into October which is basically Black Friday and so on. If E3 never ends, isn't the entire year E3?
Robin Valentine: I do really feel like the old model of E3 has had its day—even if we hadn't had a pandemic, this year's show looked like it was heading for disaster, or at the very least a limp showing. And there are good reasons why that's the case, too. Even putting aside questions of how it's been managed in recent years, a big physical show like that just isn't anywhere near as relevant to the industry as it once was.
But... I have to say, this rolling not-E3 has been a real drag. There's definitely something to be said for a big chaotic week of stress and excitement—it's impossible to summon up anywhere near the same kind of enthusiasm for a month of shaky livestreams, none of them really individually able to put on enough of a show to generate much excitement.
To be clear, I'm not dunking on any of the people involved - these have been exceptionally difficult circumstances for everyone, and it's taken a lot of hard work and passion to put these streams together at relatively short notice. But from a purely selfish perspective, I've just felt none of that excitement that even a bad E3 would've ignited in my cold heart.
Fraser Brown: I just wish it was over. I'm so tired. I'm starting to see Geoff Keighley everywhere I look. Peering through the window. Hiding behind the sofa. In the mirror. Am I becoming Geoff? It's really taking a toll.
Chris Livingston: I thought it was mostly fine. I do miss laughing at presenters on stage in front of crowds using deeply unnatural hand-movements—which I definitely shouldn't laugh at because I'm terrified of public speaking and would just stand there frozen until someone put me on a cart and wheeled me off.
But I never really liked everything being packed into a single week of announcements. I like my news the slow-drip way, rather than forcefed. I'll take a summer of sporadic press conferences over a solid week of them.
Zloth: I just watch the trailers from E3's anyway so it's been pretty much the same for me.
MaddMann: Having never gone to one before, I felt it was mostly the same. I do gotta say that for being a new console year, things have been rather lackluster. Though overall I am happy these industries were willing to flex towards what was needed for the public, rather than trying to do what was best for their bottom line. With everything being spaced out and individual studios doing things at their own pace, it does seem like I got the chance to see more indie titles than I used to. On the other side, It has been rather disappointing how few AMA's there have been considering they are now using a tool that should allow more audience participation rather than less.
All in all, I find this to be a positive trend that will need some refinement. On a side note, I kind of wonder if companies invested the money that normally goes into their marketing during these conventions, back into their employees who have had to change so much to accommodate these changes.
Drunkpunk: I liked it a bit more. Less flash and fluff, more focus on the games and the trailers, and I didn't feel compelled to try and conform my day to any schedule. There wasn't really much that caught my attention this year, though, and I think most of the upcoming games I care about had already been announced before this. I never actually go to these things, usually just catch them online in hopes of seeing something to keep me steadily hyped throughout the summer, but even so it felt a bit more focused on the right stuff.
The only real disappointment I had was knowing I wouldn't get to see Digital Devolver do their thing, but I think they had a pretty brilliant alternative.