With E3 come and gone this past June, it is safe to say that event was rather underwhelming. It's not surprising that plans are pointing towards the ESA rebranding the event to be less industry focused and far more appealing to consumers and fans of the video gaming industry. So far, plans look to shape E3 into more of a Gamescom-like “festival” with up to 10,000 additional consumers in the LA Convention Center.
The logistics of such a proposal are one of the first points to consider, since this past year’s E3 was packed with attendees who lined up for upwards of four and five hours to get into certain panels or to briefly test out a new game. Adding even more tickets for consumers sounds ridiculous, unless the entire event is looking to shift towards something new.
The pitch made for the lobbying group’s members, updated this past August 16, shows that the ESA looks to adapt the offerings at E3 based on feedback gathered from publishers. A major part of this shift would be to leverage the perceived growth in power of influencers and paid celebrity deals with talent representation agencies like UTA and CAA.
Such a proposal is certainly a move away from what E3 is traditionally marketed as. The expo began and grew to the world’s premier event for computer and video game related products, where the industry’s top talent would show of innovative plans for the upcoming year. It's unclear exactly how effective it would be to see celebrities arrive to an already packed venue to stand around and play a game demo.
Perhaps the proposal for influencers and paid celebrity endorsements is more along the lines of the Keanu Reeves appearance during the presentation for the upcoming game Cyberpunk 2077.
In that regard, it would make perfect sense to try and add celebrity and influencers to E3. Still, it would be difficult to replicate the magic of Reeves' presentation, since much of the positive reception can be attributed to his personal brand and reputation.
The ESA seems to be testing various ideas, such as members of the Los Angeles Lakers playing a basketball video game in front of fans, or actors competing in a tournament. Such an execution would require not only a change to the venue, but also significant consideration to how people will spectate such a show. More importantly, one must ask if such a performance is something that the average E3 attendee would even care to see.
Regardless of how successful or not the proposal is, there is no doubt that E3 is facing challenges in remaining relevant in its old format, and thus needs an injection of something more modern. This past E3 is a perfect example of the changing landscape of video games: Nintendo brought only a pre-recorded Nintendo Direct video, which are released throughout the year and did not need to be shown at E3. Sony did not bother to come at all, stating that they would prefer to keep working and show off their new offerings in next year.
Like it or not, the old days of E3 as the premier event for the video gaming industry are likely gone, and the ESA is right to look at adapting for the future. For now, we can simply sit back and watch to see what exactly next year’s E3 event will look like.