Why isn’t Sony attending this year’s E3? Because they’ve been giving us too many big games and they need as rest, apparently. At least, that's what Shawn Layden says (more or less).
There’s no doubt that E3 is one of the biggest events in the gaming calendar. The Electronic Entertainment Expo is where developers and publishers gather to hawk their wares, wow us (or disappoint us, there’s rarely any middle ground there), and show just how far a nanosecond’s footage of Master Chief’s visor can go to get gamers hyped.
Perhaps E3 is less of a force than it once was, in an age where everyone can just fire their trailers and footage at us any time through the magic of the Internet. Nintendo has tended to opt for their patented Nintendo Direct approach to the show, rather than making a big deal there in person. Meanwhile, Sony, a stalwart of the show (they’ve attended every E3 to date, all the way back to the very first in May 1995), have made the controversial decision to sit E3 2019 out.
Of course, this decision made waves across the industry. Some have approved, while others have been indifferent. Michael Pachter, never one to be shy with his opinions, has made sure that the world knows that he thinks this decision is a mistake.
Whichever side you’re on in that debate, you’ll probably be interested in hearing the scoop from the inside. As far as that goes, Shawn Layden is probably the man to ask. As reported by CNet, he’s the former head of PlayStation’s US arm, now at the helm of the company’s 13 development studios. So, Shawn, why did Sony decide against making the usual song and dance at E3 this year?
As many have argued, the simple thing is that there aren’t enough big games to be immediately shown off. Last year saw big-ticket items like Marvel’s Spider-Man and God of War hit shelves, and the PlayStation exclusives to rival that output just aren’t in the pipeline right now. As Layden put it:
“…with our decision to do fewer games -- bigger games -- over longer periods of time, we got to a point where June of 2019 was not a time for us to have a new thing to say. And we feel like if we ring the bell and people show up here in force, people have expectation 'Oh, they're going to tell us something.'"
Coupled with that, there’s a hint of E3 going the way of monthly gaming magazines: fading into the background a little with the always-on availability of Internet news:
“… with the internet and the fact that 24/7 there is game news, it's lost its impact around that... the trade show became a trade show without a lot of trade activity. The world has changed, but E3 hasn't necessarily changed with it.”
He also left us this philosophical point to ponder:
“We are progressing the conversation about, how do we transform E3 to be more relevant? Can E3 transition more into a fan festival of gaming, where we don't gather there to drop the new bomb? Can't it just be a celebration of games and have panels where we bring game developers closer to fans?”
As for their future relationship with E3 after this year? That’s still up in the air. Meanwhile, though, Nintendo and Microsoft have both gone to subtly snarky lengths to remind us that, yes, they will be at E3 2019.