If there’s one thing 2020 will be known for, it’s not going to be the year when movies like Wonder Woman 1984, No Time to Die with 007, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and the ninth Fast and the Furious movie broke box office records. It’s not going to be known as the year when Resident Evil 3, Cyberpunk 2077 and Final Fantasy VII Remake got rave reviews from gamers everywhere. No, 2020 will be know as the year when nothing happened. That’s all thanks to the current coronavirus pandemic that’s affecting the world right now. And if you’re reading this from the future, I sure hope the coronavirus hasn’t created some zombie apocalypse or something like that.
Anyway, governments all over the planet are implementing measures to combat the spread of the pandemic. One of the steps that are being taken are closing down and cancelling major events that involve gathering tons of people in one area. That means things like sporting events, such as the NBA and the Boston Marathon have been cancelled or suspended. Cultural events like Coachella and SXSW are not pushing through on their scheduled dates. Even movie release dates are being pushed back to avoid competing with the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the biggest things to be cancelled, in my opinion, is this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3.
Now, while this wasn’t surprising, thanks to everyone taking the necessary precautions to stay safe, I can’t help but feel rather disappointed that E3 was cancelled this year. This year was going to be a memorable year as Sony and Microsoft are planning to release the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X during the upcoming holiday season. E3 is usually the arena when new consoles are revealed to the “oohs” and “ahhs” of a live crowd. Yes, Sony was bowing out of this year’s E3 again, but that didn’t mean that game publishers like EA, Ubisoft and Activision weren’t going to be on hand to show gamers which of their franchises were going to be showcased on both the Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. And you know that Nintendo will have something up their sleeve as well for E3.
But all is not gloom and doom. I see E3’s cancellation to be a huge opportunity for everyone in the gaming industry. That means console developers like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. This also includes the game development and publisher world like EA and Ubisoft. In fact, there’s even a good chance that not having an E3 in 2020 might be the best thing to happen to the gaming world as a whole.
E3 has always been a showcase for the biggest upcoming games and systems. However, the event itself has been losing some of its luster for the past several years. It’s not like I still don’t look forward to it and, when there’s a huge reveal, it still leaves an impact on me. The thing is, the actual presentations from companies like Microsoft, EA and Unisoft have felt rather meh. Why? Because they’re stage presentations.
The big issue with the “traditional” E3 press conferences is the fact that they try to get people like the director or producer of the game to talk about the game. And, I’m going to try to be really kind here, these people just are not cut out to be on stage trying to hype up their game. Most of them are just super awkward when the go on stage or whatever they say are just too scripted that I genuinely lose interest. On the other side of the spectrum, they also try to get hosts that sound super excited but, well, come off as super fake. I get they were hired to keep the energy up but, when the enthusiasm doesn’t look real, I just get very annoyed.
There’s also the issue that, since these are shown live, there are bound to be some hiccups. This is truly embarrassing when they try to show live gameplay and then the game just doesn’t cooperate. There have been more than a few instances when a game would just crash or the controls wouldn’t work. It does make for some hilarious and memorable (and infamous) moments but it just looks unprofessional. Of course, when things do go off without a hitch, we get moments of truly scripted moments of gameplay, with “gamers” talking to each other online like they were professionals instead of, well, gamers.
Oddly enough, it’s Nintendo that’s been doing really well with their E3 presentations. At the very least, they are the most consistent. Why is that? Well, that’s because they’ve pretty much shunned throwing out live press conferences and instead relying on their Nintendo Direct shows. This has always meant that their E3 presentations have a high level of polish as things can be edited to perfection. They’ve even tried doing other stuff, such as getting puppets to do their shows, which are truly entertaining while minimizing the cringe moments.
Sony have been also ditching E3 as well. They already skipped last year’s event and they were going to not participate this year as well. Yet, in one form or another, they still make their presence felt last year by slowly releasing specs for their PlayStation 5 and third party developers revealing upcoming game exclusives like Final Fantasy VII Remake and Death Stranding. They also started with their State of Play videos at around the time, which is basically their take on the Nintendo Direct format.
So, with E3 being cancelled, that doesn’t mean that E3 will be dead. You can bet that all the big players like Sony, Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and others will be following Nintendo’s lead and put out their own version of the Nintendo Direct on the same dates when E3 was originally scheduled. And they can make their shows much better than whatever live stage press conference they originally were putting together. This in turn will put their games in a better light than any stage show could. And, yes, we won’t have to sit through another Ubisoft Just Dance live dance performance with a man in a panda suit. Oh, I’m not kidding myself that Ubisoft won’t put in an awkward dance number but at least we won’t have to deal with the unenthusiastic crowd laughing at how dumb it all looks.
In fact, if these non-stage press conferences are a hit, I can definitely see a lot of companies forgetting about producing live shows altogether. They’ll still go to E3 and put up booths to allow gamers to play demos and all that but all the pressure of producing a live show won’t be a burden for companies. They won’t need to go through the expense of flying out that one director who doesn’t have any stage presence to Los Angeles. They won’t need to bother scripting his lines or hiring hosts who don’t know anything about gaming.
And what will E3 be like without all the fancy press conferences? Well, it’s going to be like a show that allows the press to test out the upcoming games, which is what E3 was supposed to be all about anyway! It’s kind of a win-win situation.
Yes, I am disappointed that E3 was cancelled due to the coronavirus. But, if you look at the situation in a certain way, it does seem like this may be one of the best things that could happen to the show.
What are your feelings on E3 being cancelled this year? Let me know in the comments section below!