I woke up yesterday, got myself a little juice, and like any other millennial began to check my social media for anything interesting. After a little scrolling, I came across Bethesda‘s latest announcement: Fallout 76. We don’t know anything beyond the CGI trailer, of course. But I was confused to see it now. I wondered about why it wouldn’t be held until E3 where it would reach the highest audience and generate the most hype. Because, let’s be honest, that’s what E3 is for. It’s a commercial for companies to say “Hey, look at our cool new games that won’t probably be as good as they look!” And while I still look forward to E3, I wonder about its place in the current gaming culture.
E3 started at a time where information was at a drip feed compared to how it is today. You had to rely on magazines and television when it came to gaming news. It was a simpler time, especially for game developers and publishers. Hype was easier to manage and maintain then. That’s when E3 was at the peak. When we couldn’t so easily leak information or find it ourselves and we had to wait? E3 was our answer. Like waiting for the Christmas preview, we were ready to watch and see what we were gonna beg for next.
Then, technology changed. Drastically. From a time were printed media was more or less essential to now where it is nothing but an afterthought, E3’s necessity is becoming more and more questionable. Yes, there are those still hyped for E3 because some companies still have something to look forward to. Nintendo usually tries to keep their hype up by having their own bite sized presentation. This year though, they’ve decided to show off the new Super Smash Bros. game in an invitational. Things like this seem pretty genius to me. But other companies have not done anything like this to get people wanting to watch eagerly. At this point, it feels like people are hype for E3 because that’s just how it’s supposed to be. However, two key things have happened that have made me really wonder about the need for it.
Before I get to the two end results, I want to talk a bit about the cause for them both: information leaks. For the average person, leaks can be exciting. We get to speculate what’s real and what’s not. And if it turns out to be real, they can give us a heads up of what to expect in the future. How they happen is usually pretty obvious, but why they happen is more speculative. Could it be some sort of retaliation against the industry at large? Or could it simply be mistakes? Either way, they’re pretty prevalent. Honestly, I’d be a liar if I said I wanted leaks to stop. Not that they would anyway. Not with Wal-Mart’s inability to hold information…
As for the end results? Well, one is that publishers are announcing games WAY earlier than they’re ready. Ever notice how games get announced two or three years (sometimes longer) than their release dates? It’s mostly because they want to beat those leaks to the punch. They want to be the ones who generate the hype and get people excited. Leaks take away from the work done to advertise and reveal a game. Those trailers take time, and to have that all taken away by a leak? That sucks. Which is why we get The Last of Us trailers years before the game comes out. The downside is that if it’s revealed too early, then expectations begin to rise. If they aren’t met, then hype starts to die down.
To combat that, they release snippets of more information. Usually during other press conferences and the like. The problem there becomes people complaining “Well, I’ve seen this game before. Where’s the new stuff?” Which then leaves the game companies kind of just shrugging their shoulders. E3 is supposed to be a bunch of new information, but it seems that every two or three E3’s will just rehash on games we already know about in a bit to make sure we don’t forget them. Things I expect to see this year? Trailers for: Days Gone, the new Spider Man game, Crackdown 3, The Last of Us 2, and the Sypro remaster. All but the last one have already appeared at E3 and we are aware of their existence. But because it was done so early, we need to be reminded. Which brings me to the second result.
Trailers stop mattering as much. Now, a lot of factors can go into why this happened, but seeing an initial trailer only really gives you conformation these days. Especially ones with no gameplay. As leaks force developers to push out a trailer like a kid found in a game of hide and seek, we become less excited about them and just want to see what the game will look like. And that’s if we even see them at E3. Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen so many trailers for games. Could it all be teasers? Or could it just be the primer before we’re given some gameplay at E3? Ultimately, I think even they know that E3 is losing steam. Especially when you can put trailers in smaller events like the Video Game Awards and get mostly the same effect.
It’s hard to tell if E3 will ever be as big or as exciting as it once was. I doubt it’ll go away ANY time soon, but do we need it? Or is it just tradition at this point? I love E3 and I still watch it with hopeful eyes, but it seems to have lost…something. Maybe I’m simply being too cynical. But what do you guys think? Is E3 still exciting to you? Or do you just wait to see the highlights? Let us know in the comments.
Here are the highlights from the Microsoft Xbox One event that was held on May 21st 2013