There was no other show like it” – gaming execs reflect on the life, and tragic death, of E3

By admin Jun6,2024

We’re firmly in the Summer Game Fest era, there’s no getting around that fact. E3 is certified dead – and video game publishers have taken the opportunity to hold individual events and streams separate from the industry’s once-solo summer show. As the sun beams down on an E3-less LA, video game execs involved in the show have looked back at the life and death of the event.

This information comes from a massive Gamesindustry.biz article chock-full of interviews from various huge video game industry names, including Tom Kalinskie (formerly of Sega America), Peter Moore, and former PlayStation US head Steve Race.

Within this article is a well-informed and firsthand account of the value of E3 early in its life, especially during the era where the Xbox 360, PS3, and Nintendo Wii were duking it out.

“E3 was the battleground for the console war,” stated Moore in this article. “The question of ‘Who won E3?’ was always what people wanted to know. Who had the best press conferences? Who had the most engaging content? Who had the biggest crowds? It was fighting and scrapping for the leadership position in an industry that was growing exponentially. E3 was both the battleground as well as the canvas on which we painted our industry.”

Moore would continue to wax nostalgic about the push and pull between these big video game console makers, pulling us back to his infamous tattoo stunts which he revealed live on stage as well as other major moments in the show’s history. “It was a real battle. If you go back and see me with a Halo 2 tattoo, or later a GTA 4 tattoo… I was just sticking it to PlayStation with a bit of Scouse in-your-face aggression. PlayStation came up with a trailer for Killzone that was just total bullshit, and we knew it. They knew they needed to counter-punch, because we were ahead of them in terms of the Xbox 360 launch. So they created a movie and alluded that it was how the game would look, which of course it didn’t.”

Robert Matthews, former Nintendo exec who worked the show during the Wii’s era, added his own share of intriguing anecdotes. “The main way you came into the E3 hall meant that people had to walk around Sony’s booth to get to ours. I was there on the upper deck as the doors opened, and I remembered a sea of people running through Sony’s booth to get into line to try the Wii for the first time. I was like ‘Wow. We’ve got something special here’.”

These recollections of the show’s growth and greatest moments find themself a home in the articles first half, whereas the latter half breaks down E3’s eventual decline and death. A shift in priorities, COVID, and cost all playing a significant part in its demise.

Legendary Sony figurehead and regular speaker at E3 Shawn Layden, spoke to GI.biz on some of the issues with having a presence at E3. “The planning was immense, which is why taking E3 out of the schedule has opened up thousands of man hours across the industry. Quite often when you build demo code for E3, it’s not game code, it’s a discrete piece of work that you create just for that show. And then you throw it away and you go back to working on the main game.

Multiple interviewees including Layden also pointed out that with the changing media landscape, the relevance of a show like E3 waned in later years, “For the big companies, it just became a peacocking event. It also wasn’t so much about press anymore, because everyone was breaking embargoes anyway, and the press was publishing 24 hours a day… by 2015, E3 had really lost its meaning as a trade show because no trade was really happening.”

These are just a few snippets of a fantastically in-depth article that is absolutely worth a read for those of you out there looking for a comprehensive peak at the life and death of gaming’s biggest trade show. Have you got any fond memories of E3? Let us know below!

By admin

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