E3 has run since 1995 – touted as the biggest and best explosion of new gaming content that one can see revealed at once, the expo is pretty much the highlight of the year for some software developers. But as you may have noticed, this year, and in fact last year as well, saw several high profile game companies taking a back seat, and even some of the biggest names in existing companies also not making an appearance.
E3 2016 did not feature and appearance from Activision Blizzard for example, whose blockbuster title Overwatch as well as the newly released Warcraft movie are two of the biggest game events in the calendar. Activision stated that they would skip this year’s conference, in favour of letting Sony showcase their titles for them.
Similarily, Electronic Arts has also taken this year off, and instead opted for their own EA Play live event running through the E3 week in London and Los Angeles, as well as an online streaming event getting their previews out directly into homes. Interestingly EA’s even was free and offered to attendees on a first come first served basis.
We can obviously surmise the reasons why the big game companies are saving the time, effort, and money with either setting up their own events or taking a back seat from conventions this year. Activision just bought out the developer of Candy Crush saga for a billion dollar price tag and EA’s attitude points to a more independent scheme, in two locations, to better attract more customers.
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However, on top of this all is streaming. E3 is streamed out live to more digital ‘attendees’ than the population of some US states. Whilst the show itself is an absolutely stunning monument to videogames, it’s a long trip and gets a little pricey. Additionally, companies are getting massive amounts of free publicity through social media, Twitch streaming, and YouTubers playing their games and basically handing them free reviews and gameplay videos.
To be honest, E3 will most likely continue for years to come, but in the last few years it’s been interesting to see the impact of an online based marketing approach on the expo. Whilst some speculate this could be the last big E3 of all time, others remain confident that the grandiose majesty of the event will attract players and pundits for years to come.