The Electronic Entertainment Expo, mostly known as E3, started in 1995 with the hopes of becoming the premier place for video game companies to make big announcements. The 1995 E3 accomplished that easily. The Sony 32-bit console, PlayStation was revealed for the first time. Sega showed off its own 32-bit console with the Saturn. Nintendo boasted about the 64-bit Ultra 64, which would later be named the Nintendo 64. In 2014, announcements are at E3, but a lot of attention has moved towards online news. It begs to be questioned whether or not E3 is still relevant.
In the 1990’s, E3 gained a big success because of the way information was released. If someone did not attend the event in person, the only way to get E3 announcements were to wait for the next month’s video game magazine. Those magazines would double in size and feature screenshots and details about the latest consoles and video games. It was a time when video game news usually happened once a month.
Now, in 2014, video game news happens almost immediately. Going online on almost any day of the week will reveal some type of gaming news. Every magazine has an online news site and there a plenty of strictly online video game news site to accompany them. Those websites are able to update gaming news as they happen rather than waiting until their next magazine issue is printed.
Small and large video game companies have chosen to release news when it best suits them and at the platform they decide will gather the most attention. Companies have made many big announcements through their Facebook and Twitter profiles. Now, even online leaks have forced video game companies to respond and reveal news before they were ready to become official.
With the way the internet has affected online news, it is a wonder if E3 can still be as relevant as it once was. Even more so than news, E3 happens in real-time online and even on video game consoles. Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft have allowed their big press conferences to be streamed online. Starting in 2012, Microsoft streamed their E3 press conference through Xbox Live so that gamers could watch it through their Xbox 360. Starting this year, gamers will be able to watch the E3 press conference on Xbox Live through their Xbox 360 or Xbox One.
Microsoft made a bold move this year when they announced, one month before E3 that they were going to sell the Xbox One without the Kinect and will release an update that will allow for external storage device support. Those were two of the largest requested changes to the Xbox One that users wanted. Microsoft says that they announced those changes early in order to get hardware talk out of the way and put all the focus on games at E3. It is a great mindset to have at E3, but how much game news can they have? Many games that were announced at last year’s press conference are still unreleased. It leaves gamers to believe that they are just going to show off more preview footage and maybe show off a game or two. Microsoft may not have enough to make their press conference very exciting.
Sony has been silent, but they are entering E3 ahead of Microsoft. The PlayStation 4 has been selling exceptionally well, and they became the hero of last year’s E3. Last year, Microsoft focused too much time on the television aspect of the Xbox One and how the console will limit what a user can do. Sony announced that the PlayStation 4 will be all about the games and have no restrictions for its users. This year, all Sony really has to do is show off a few games and smile to make gamers happy. It could mean that Sony may not feel they need to try as hard and it could mean a boring E3 appearance.
Nintendo has already announced that they will not present a press conference this year. Their presence this year may just consist of game booths and previews. The other game companies that may not show up either are the independent game developers. The indie game market has made huge splashes in the past couple of years, but those developers have little money to spend to get to E3 and setup a booth for themselves. That is a large part of the gaming world missing out on E3 coverage.
With Nintendo no longer feeling the need to make a big deal out of E3, it brings the relevance of the once grand expo to question. It could be the writing on the wall that the convention is not at all what it used to be. Gamers will be able to decide how this year’s E3 fairs when it happens a couple of weeks away from June 10 through June 12.
Opinion by Raul Hernandez