In 2020 the world was faced with a pandemic the likes of which we hadn’t seen before. In fact, neither had our parents or grandparents. The pandemic changed our lives in every way possible; from how we live our day-to-day lives, to how we perform our jobs, how we interact with each other, and how we consume content.
Today I’d like to talk about what has changed in the gaming press landscape. Live events were once a great way to network, play upcoming titles, see and hear major announcements and of course, party. Over the years, as online events became more frequent, companies that participated in live events dropped out one by one. Once the pandemic hit, just like everything else, live events ceased to exist. All events were live-streamed and companies did the best they could with what resources were available.
I hated every second of it.
While it was great to have live events spread out throughout the year, I desperately missed and still miss the excitement of events like E3, PAX, and GDC. The atmosphere is electric in those venues and the camaraderie built simply by walking next to someone through the lobby or sitting next to someone at a press conference, feeling the excitement (or disappointment) after a megaton announcement, was all gone.
Live events need to be the future, not the past. Stream-only events have no soul, meaning unless you host a get-together to watch these events (which is hard because there’s usually little notice), you’re sitting alone on the couch, on the bus, sitting on a bench, wherever you may be. Our industry needs a gathering place. Is it expensive? Absolutely. Can larger companies afford it? Absolutely. At some point, cost-saving measures have to cease so that developers can be afforded the opportunity to hear the crowd roar in real life, not through reading comments and chat boxes.
When E3 came back as an online-only event in 2021, I was excited just to have it back. After I registered, I immediately jumped into my account and built up my profile, dropped virtual business cards in everyone’s inbox, and expected the hub to be a full-on community. Instead, barely any companies used the inbox, almost no one had a profile or would be involved in chats, the calendars weren’t utilized and I had to visit sites, check emails, go to discord, and a whole slew of other things to make my appointments. In short, it was a mess. A big mess.
With E3 canceled in 2022, I’m hoping the new “hybrid format” is a huge success. One takeaway I had from 2021 is those small indie companies had the opportunity to showcase their content because of the low barrier to entry. That said, I propose this; have the larger companies there live to deliver keynotes, but allow smaller companies who may not have access to a ton of resources to stream their content online. It would be the best of both worlds.
As for the other major conventions like Game Developer’s Conference, Tokyo Game Show, and PAX, they seem to be returning to normal as a live event and I love that. As I’ve stated before, the world NEEDS live events. Without them, as fans, we are all just sitting behind a keyboard complaining instead of celebrating this wonderful industry. After all, it’s impossible to re-create the crowd’s reaction to Nintendo’s announcement of Twilight Princess from home.