The cancellation of E3 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic struck a blow for the gaming community as it was the first time the event has had to be shut down in its twenty four year history. The event has been considered the largest gaming expo in the world, becoming a significant cultural event contributing to the growth of the gaming industry over the last few decades. But does E3 still have the gravitas to continue onwards when the world has returned to a more regular state?
The internet and social media have been staples in contemporary society for a fair amount of time but following the global lockdown and restrictions that have occurred following the Covid-19 outbreak, it has become even more significant in our daily lives. Many of us have to work from home or have lost our jobs entirely. We have to stay inside and maintain social distancing rules at all times. The internet –and all digital platforms– are needed now more than ever. The announcement of the Summer Games Fest is a perfect example of how this reliance on digital media has evolved more so recently as well as an idea as to the direction that gaming expos may be going in the future.
The Summer Games Fest is an all new four month long event which will be a celebration of video games as well as a showcase for developers. The advertising promises “digital events, in-game events, playable content and more all from the comfort of home”. Created by The Game Awards creator and gaming journalist Geoff Keighley, the event is promising to be everything that E3 offers with even more interaction from the general public. E3 only became open to the public in 2017 and –as with all large events– there is no guarantee as to what you will be able to see and do whilst there. Streaming on multiple platforms including YouTube and Twitch, the Summer Games Fest seems to be promising more to the ordinary gaming fan particularly with the mention of playable content. Bringing an event such as this into the digital domain could open up whole new possibilities for this medium of game coverage. The show itself has the tagline “Play the Future”, suggesting an awareness of this new digitally interactive age and what may be in store.
The event could be creating more of an incentive for developers to showcase their games as well. Rather than just having to prepare for the week of June in which E3 normally takes place, developers have four full months, an entire season, to bring something to the table if they choose to do so. The list of developers already on board is high. In the tweet below from Keighley, several well known studios are listed as being part of the event, including Sony who were planning on skipping E3 all together. Not only that, but this is only the first phase of confirmed developers with more likely to crop up over the four month period. There is a great deal of flexibility in regards to how developers choose to showcase their games when done on an entirely digital platform, so it is possible that this could become the norm for showcases if Summer Games Fest is a success.
That being said, there is an argument for keeping the traditional style of the trade event. There have been some pretty memorable moments from E3 (the good, the bad and the painfully awkward) and there is no denying that the event has been an important facet of the gradual rise of video games and their corresponding technology. It seems like it would be a difficult task to recreate something so influential in a digital format, but Covid-19 has thrown a spanner into the works of any and all social events and E3 is an unfortunate victim for now.
Whether or not E3 becomes a thing of the past is dependent on the success of the Summer Games Fest as well as how we manage to recover from this pandemic. No matter how this situation plays out, what is certain is that gamers across the world can still come together to celebrate their passions even in the midst of such an unbelievable time in our history.
For more information on the Summer Games Fest, take a look at their website where you can sign up to their mailing list to stay updated.