ASU students weigh in on the relevance of Electronic Entertainment Expo

The relevance of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), one of the biggest video game trade shows in the world, gets called into question when it looms on the horizon each summer. 

While there’s no denying that the Los Angeles-based, press-exclusive show plays hosts to some of the biggest and most important announcements game publishers will make for the entire year, the news of leaks and publisher presence continue to arise in the weeks leading up to the convention.

This year, details of Microsoft’s oft-rumored Xbox One S console, a smaller version of their current Xbox One, was leaked 24 hours before it was officially announced at the company’s presentation this year.

In addition, game site NerdLeaks tweeted out the schedule of Microsoft’s presentation — among other information — including time starts for each game and announcement. The released details turned out to be correct.

EA’s presence at the convention, while not nonexistent, was absent from the show floor and stage presentations. The publisher/developer chose to hold its press conference on the Sunday before the show's start. In lieu of a booth, it featured an off-site “EA Play” event that ran from June 12 and June 13, and was open to the public.

Since 2013, Japanese game company Nintendo opted not to hold a physical presentation at the show, choosing instead to make announcements via streaming videos while having a booth presence on the show’s floor. This year, it held massive booth to showcase “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” the next chapter in the popular series. Lines to play the game by visitors were closed within 15 minutes of the show floor's opening, according to game site Polygon.

Lastly, major publisher Activision pulled out of this year’s show almost entirely, repeating a move from 2008. Its games were showcased primarily at Sony’s PlayStation booth for this year.

So, considering the flux of leaks and publisher presence that has happened in recent years, the question arises yet again – is E3 still relevant in these days?

“I couldn’t imagine a year without it,” biomedical engineering student Austin Doyle wrote in an email.

A gamer since he was five years old as well as the current president of the University’s “Hearthstone” gaming group, Doyle wrote that the show is still relevant and necessary in today’s gaming climate.

“The Electronic Entertainment Expo has been the most historic event for gaming across the numerous generations," he said. "Movie enthusiasts have the Oscars, American football enthusiasts have the Super Bowl, and gaming enthusiasts have E3. If there were no E3, what other showcase would gamers really look forward to?”

Doyle wrote that E3 was not meant for consumers, and that it has and always will be a trade show first, designed for developers to market their wares to possible partners and potential investors for future projects.

“That’s the true problem that I feel lies in the question of ‘Is E3 even relevant anymore,’” he wrote. “Gamers have become so self-entitled that we expect E3 to be all about us and what we want. If we didn’t get what we wanted, then we claim that that year was a ‘bad E3’ and then these questions about its relevance pop up.

Every single E3 is going to be different, and as time goes on it will continue to evolve and change.”

Jessica Conditt, an ASU alumna and senior reporter for the tech website Engadget. said she also believes in E3’s relevance.

While an attendee at this year’s show, she called it “a strange beast," adding that this year was “weirder than most” considering EA and Activision’s absence from the show floor. 

However, she said the absence didn’t have much of an impact on how the show ran.

“EA and Activision still held meetings with journalists and internet influencers in the upstairs rooms or off-site — they were still very much at E3,” she wrote.

On the necessity of the show, she wrote that big publishers and hardware manufactures relied on it for a big push of coverage and public awareness in the mid-year.

“The yearly gaming news cycle is changing with innovations like livestreaming, but it still has peaks and valleys," Conditt said. "Without E3, summer would be a massive deficit in coverage and hype for all gaming brands."

On the issue of leaks, she said that they were a given, and that they were just as predictable as the show itself.

“Hell, leaks in general are a constant in this industry,” she wrote. “It's difficult to hide new IPs or hardware from prying eyes, considering all of the people and paperwork involved in making those things."

Conditt said she believes that E3 wouldn’t be going away anytime soon.

“It may become more scattered, with publishers choosing to hold their own events around E3, but the show itself should stick around for a while,” she wrote.

Earth and environmental sciences major and ASU League of Legends group member Jorge Ivan Calderon wrote that his friends use the con as a way to meet up with old friends from the industry. He said the the main show is still a draw for them, however.

"A majority of the people I know only attend to hangout and have fun," he wrote in a comment on the group's Facebook page. "After parties are sweet too."


Reach the reporter at djulienr@asu.edu or follow @legendpenguin on Twitter

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