Here we are. It's E3 season again, and that means it's time for another round of naysayers to contemplate whether or not E3 is still relevant to the gaming industry.
Of course, the people who argue for E3's irrelevance do bring up some valid points. I mean, for a game developer/publisher, going to E3 is expensive. If the industry could collectively decide that E3 was no longer relevant, many of these companies would save millions of dollars a year. Those booths aren't cheap, you know.
Additionally, E3 is no longer the only game expo out there. PAX is currently hosting two expos a year, we have the Game Developers Conference, Japan has the Tokyo Game Show, and Germany has Gamescom. And some companies have begun hosting their own events. Activision Blizzard is among them, hosting both Blizzcon and Call of Duty XP. In fact, even Minecraft had its own show last year. Surely we don't need E3 anymore, do we?
Will Wright (yeah, the Sims guy) said this way back in 2008: "I think we're in an uncomfortable transition zone when really the real E3 died a couple of years ago." Even back then, he seemed to think E3 was already in decline. It's funny to point out, then, that the Sims still regularly makes an appearance at the event. (In fact, I spent a fair amount of time with The Sims 3: Pets last year.) However, it must also be noted that E3 has gone through some major changes since then, and it might not be completely fair to hold Mr. Wright to this statement four years later.
As for me, I think E3 is still very much relevant. The fact that Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are still pulling out all the stops and hosting major press conferences seems to be a pretty strong vote of confidence by some of the industry's biggest players. And even though Activision has since left the ESA (Electronics Software Association, the organization that hosts E3) and has taken to hosting their own events, they'll still be at E3, showing off their latest and greatest titles.
You see, what happens at E3 is that just about every video game media outlet in the industry, whether major or minor, shows up ready to get their grubby little mitts on the next big thing in gaming. It gives PR and marketing departments face time with the gaming media, and it gives those of us in the gaming media—like those of us here at Cheat Code Central—face time with developers and publishers. While E3 is hardly the only event that allows for such a thing anymore, it's still the largest.
And gamers get excited when E3 season rolls around. A lot of people that don't normally follow gaming news all that closely will be perking up their ears when E3 is happening. Because E3 is exciting. It's especially exciting for those in attendance, but even for those on the sidelines, watching streaming videos and reading up on the developing news, there's a lot of cool stuff to see. So what better time for a gaming company to make a major announcement? Revealing big things at E3 is a great way to maximize exposure.
And speaking of announcements, last year we got official name reveals for both the PlayStation Vita and the Wii U. While the names of both devices raised some skeptical eyebrows (and audible groans; I kid you not) it was cool to get to see these things for the first time. This year, we're going to get a lot more info on the Wii U, which kicks off the next console generation. How is that not exciting?
There was a point in time when E3 was in a transitional state, in which the ESA was trying to decide whether or not to allow the general public into the event. There were a couple years where the craziness got out of hand, followed by a year or two when the show floor was reportedly fairly empty. I can see why back then people would be skeptical about E3's long-term survival. But that seems to have balanced out now, as I can say from experience that 2011's expo had quite a healthy crowd of attendees. I don't think I'm being overzealous for expecting big things from 2012's E3.
Whether you think E3 is relevant or not, Cheat Code Central will be in attendance this year, bringing you all the latest news from the gaming industry. So keep us bookmarked. E3 2012 is just barely a week away, after all.
Editor / News Director
Date: May 31, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*