Every year, developers from around the world gather in June to showcase their most secret and anticipated projects. In the months leading up to E3, gamers witness the spectacle of influencers and industry veterans discussing the rumors of what might be, further fueling their desired announcements come to life. In the spirit of fun and excitement, E3 allows for the passion of gaming to be broadcast on a world stage and recognized for its influence on the entertainment industry.
Now that the industry is approaching the eve of E3, OnlySP is counting down the days remaining in a segment we like to call ‘12 Days of E3’. Please join OnlySP in celebrating an event that can be described as Christmas for Gamers, as we come together in anticipation for E3 2019!
Arguably the biggest shake up surrounding E3 2019 was Sony’s decision not to host its own press conference this year. PlayStation is one of the three big platform holders in the video game industry and surely its absence will be felt when the show comes around.
While another big player, Nintendo, has not had a live show at E3 since 2012, the company has kept a presence with its Nintendo Directs as well as booths on the showfloor. However, Sony elected to skip out on the conference completely, with Shawn Layden, SIE Worldwide Studios chairman, explaining why:
“This year, coming to 2019, I’ll be honest—we just didn’t have a new story to tell. And when Sony rings the bell for everyone to come ‘round, they have an expectation for something that is completely new and amazing. We looked at the lineup and we can probably only give fans a lot of updates on things they already know, so how does this work for us?”
Sony reiterated that it will not have any plans to showcase anything around E3. Due to the company’s absence, the Entertainment Software Association needs to replace Sony somehow.
Exact numbers are hard to find, but having an E3 booth can be costly. For the booth alone, a single-screen booth that indie developers typically will use costs around USD$420 per day, while the larger ones like Sony have cost about $6,657 per day. The kicker here is that Sony has a whopping three booths, which means that, with Sony gone this year, the ESA is losing quite a bit of money. Logically speaking, in order to make up the loss, booth space prices may be lowered to entice other companies to take Sony’s place. This allows different types of gaming experiences and other underrepresented aspects of the games industry to receive a chance to get more exposure in order to fill the gap Sony left behind.
The most immediate change is the physical change. Sony usually occupies the West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC) across from Nintendo. This year, the space is completely wide open for other companies to come in and fill. Most notably, The Unreal Garden @ E3 takes up the most space. Developed by Onedom—a San Francisco based immersive entertainment company. The Unreal Garden @ E3 is a pop-up of the same augmented reality experience. At E3 2018, a similar concept emerged with Pixel Crushers’s augmented reality escape room experience, ARia’s Legacy, but it was relegated to a smaller booth space in the South Hall. With the rising popularity of AR with initiatives like Facebook’s Oculus Quest and the success of Niantic’s Pokemon Go, seeing this type of futuristic gaming technology receive more attention on the E3 show floor is exciting.
Sony’s absence also hands the spotlight over to certain niches of the video game industry. Quite a few gaming accessories and peripheral companies have booths at E3, but one sticks out from the crowd this year: Limited Run Games. The company is a publisher of limited run, physical games for PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch. Limited Run Games has had booths at other gaming conventions such as Penny Arcade Expo and PlayStation Experience, as well as digital E3 live streams with new announcements but, for the first time ever, this year the company will have a booth at E3. Ironically, Limited Run Games shows more support for the Vita than Sony itself ever did.
Lastly, representation of advocacy in the video game industry have gained more prominence this year at E3. In particular, Take This is a non-profit organization that aims to have a dialogue around mental health in the video game industry. While Take This was present at E3 2018, the organization’s booth was located in the Concourse Permanent Meeting Rooms area in the LACC, away from where the bigger booths were. However, this year, Take This is located in the West Hall.The company also shares the booth with Stack Up, a charity that supports veterans through video games, as well as the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), a non-profit professional association and global network of individuals from all fields of game development. Conversations around these topics are important in the games industry, especially since the World Health Organization just very recently recognized “gaming disorder” as a mental illness. Hopefully, having more exposure on the E3 show floor will allow more people to be able to get the chance to check out these amazing organizations who help bring gamers together for a common cause.
Despite comments noting that E3 is losing relevance in the digital age as bigger publishers leave to host their own events, Sony’s absence allows smaller players in the games industry to thrive on the show floor. The diversity of content is a welcome change to the conference to the different underrepresented aspects of the video game industry. While Sony may return for E3 2020, seeing more underdogs this year will be a refreshing change.