Shack Chat: Is E3 dying, or is it alive and well?

The Shack Chat discusses the state of E3 and whether or not it's going to continue to be an institution of the gaming industry.


Shack Chat is back once again, our weekly feature each Friday where we’ll ask the Shacknews staff to give their opinion on a particular topic, then open the floor to our dedicated Chatty community to provide a diverse mixture of thoughts on the subject. It’s a great way for us to get to know one another better while inspiring healthy debates with all of you passionate gamers out there. 

Question: Is E3 dying?

Yes - Asif Khan, The Man with The Briefcase


Long Live E3 - Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor

I think a lot of folks might want E3 to go the way of the dinosaur, but I believe it’s alive and well -- at least, for now. I've attended the show several times, and I felt the spirit of the show was still thriving during this year as well. As hilarious as our E3 celebration was during the final hours of the convention, I think it still has plenty of years left.

It's a fantastic place for members of the industry to meet, spend time together, and share the magic that is video games, even if some people get to see more of the magic than others (like some publications getting hands-on while others are only shown video). It's near and dear to my heart and I'll always cherish going, because I've missed out on so many years to attend since I'm always at home working to make sure others can go. Now I will be going every single year until I can't any longer. 

Weekend at Bernie's - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Editor

I can certainly appreciate everyone's efforts to keep this show going. Xbox brought forward a barnburner of an E3 press conference and everyone else looks to have stepped up their efforts. There were a lot of fun surprises this year, from Keanu Reeves, to Final Fantasy VII Remake, to things that weren't Keanu Reeves. But the lack of PlayStation presence, along with everybody else's continued shift towards the Nintendo Direct model of presenting their products made this year's show feel more superfluous than ever before.

I'm all for trotting out the corpse and putting it on jet skis and doing a ventriloquist act for however many more years. But this year's show just didn't feel the same.

E3 isn’t dying, it’s just evolving - Josh Hawkins, Some guy

I think the prospect of E3 dying all depends on how you look at it. From a press level, sure it definitely seems like the conference is losing a lot of its shine, with big publishers and companies pulling out. But, from a consumer standpoint, the past couple of years of E3 have let far more of the public in, and that has really helped to bring more excitement and hype to the show floor as a whole. If I had to guess, just looking at how publishers have moved away from their traditional participation at the show, E3 will most likely become another consumer or fan-focused deal, similar to that of the PAX events.

However, I think we’ll still continue to see a lot of big announcements coming out of E3, unlike what we currently see at conventions like PAX. While some big publishers have definitely shied away, the insane amount of reveals we saw this year shows that others are more than willing to step up and take the torch when they can. Sure, E3 might eventually transition from being a mostly press-oriented show…but realistically, E3 isn’t dying, it’s just evolving.

No, But Also Yes - Kevin S. Tucker, Rulebreaker

As far as I can tell, E3 seems to as alive as it’s ever been — instead, it’s user interest in E3 that seems to be dying. I’ve known about the exposition for basically my entire conscious life, and I’ve never once been able to go. I assume the same is true for most game fans out there. For us peasants, E3 is not so much an event as it is a period of time where we can expect news and reveals for new games and hardware. And, following this logic, even if there’s still a weeklong event packed with said news and reveals, it doesn’t necessarily need to happen someplace in the physical world.

It seems like a lot of developers and publishers are catching onto this idea, what with Sony bowing out and Devolver’s E3 presentation driving home the idea that direct-to-consumer streams are the ideal method of information distribution. After all, if the result is ultimately the same for 99.7 percent of gamers, why host an event at all? Why spend the time, money, and effort required to fly out to the Los Angeles Convention Center in order to catch a new reveal that is live streamed to the Internet just seconds later?

If you ask me, the whole practice is antiquated. That's not to say that it isn't fun, but I'd imagine that most gamers would be totally fine (and no less informed) if the very concept of E3 simply vanished into the aether.

Dementia Is Setting In - Blake Morse, Reviews Editor

Is E3 actually totally dead? No, not just yet. But it hasn’t been doing so great since we put it in a home. You should really come visit E3, it would love to you see. And, if I’m being entirely honest, we aren’t that sure how many more Junes the old gal has. It could be one year, it could be two. I honestly doubt it will be more than that though. That’s why it’s important that we spend so much time with it before it goes away forever.

What is Dead May Never Die - Bill Lavoy, Managing Editor

What I believe is happening is that things are changing, as they always do, and E3 might be falling behind the times a little bit. Developers and publishers are finding new and cheaper ways to get their message across without spending millions attending E3. In recent years, there’s been a shift away from using traditional journalists to spread information, instead using platforms like Twitch and YouTube. Why spend a couple million bucks on a booth at E3 when you can pay a streamer a couple thousand bucks to hype your game? Paying an influencer allows publishers and developers to control the message, whereas a journalist might write something negative.

In the way we’ve always known E3, I believe it is dying, but I don’t think it needs to die. I think the folks that organize E3 need to see that change is required. There has to be a benefit to big game companies to show up. If they can get the same publicity holding live streams or standalone events during E3 week without renting out the space, why not? The real question is, what exactly can E3 do to pivot and change with the times?

E3 is here to stay - Sam Chandler, Guides Editor

Though it might be an intense week where people are pushed to their limits, it’s also an incredibly exciting week. It’s an opportunity for developers to come and show off what they’ve been working on to a captive audience. It’s a clear deadline to work toward, which is always helpful when creating art.

On the other side of the aisle, E3 is an exciting moment for fans. Being able to hear about all the new adventures and experiences you get to go on in the coming months and years is thrilling. To me, it’s like a second Christmas.

E3 also offers countless moments for networking, and making friends. Everyone is there to talk about a shared passion, and everyone is excited about what’s being announced. All the hard work and long hours aside, it’s just a good time.

I think it would be a disservice to everyone involved if E3 was to no longer exist in its current form.

Nope! - Donovan Erskine, Intern

People are always chomping at the bit to declare something “dead” or “over with.” I think E3 is far from over. Yes, some of the bigger names have opted to leave the expo and do their own thing, but the show will survive. I believe this was more of a setup year. With new consoles on the horizon, E3 2020 is sure to be a banger.

Besides, E3 is a wonderful gathering and demonstration of all the hard work done in our industry. I don’t want it going anywhere.

P.S. I think Sony will be back next year for PS5.

Yes, in its current form- David L. Craddock, Longreads Editor

The ghost of E3 past.
The ghost of E3 past.

I have no sentimental attachment to E3. I enjoy any opportunity to talk with developers about their games, but prefer settings like GDC, where the focus is on how games are made and less on “look how many guns are in our derivative shooter coming this Christmas PRE-ORDER TODAY!”

Sentimentality (or lack thereof) aside, E3 in its current form isn’t dying, but it’s not healthy either. Time and again this week, all media and developer attendees could talk about was how sparse the show floor was in terms of attendance. From the crater (figuratively speaking) in west hall that marked where Sony had stood a year before to one’s ability to pinwheel one’s arms while walking through the hallway, something no one would have dared do even a year ago without fear of smacking at least 12 people upside their heads, attendance seemed lacking this year.

I’d venture to say that’s due to an identity crisis. E3 knows what it used to be, but seems unsure what it needs to be now and in the future. It’s no longer strictly a trade show. Fans seem wise to the fact that attending means spending 6+ hours in line to play 20 minutes of a game they’ll be able to play to their heart’s content in 6-10 months when it releases.

Subjectively, I’ve never cared for E3. So much of it is smoke-and-mirrors announcements for games that don’t and never will exist, at least not in the form they’ve been shown at the event. There are countless examples of this: Anthem, Watch Dogs, BioShock Infinite, Duke Nukem Forever--those games and more existed only as trailers meant to give viewers an idea of what a game could be, not what it really was or eventually would be. And on a personal note, I hate--hate, hate, hate--having to drop everything and everyone else for an entire week, an eternity in this modern world.

Objectively, E3 is still the show that makes the whole world sit up and pay attention to the video game industry. That’s a good thing, provided we use it in the right way: To inform those unaware of the world’s favorite hobby why it’s important. E3 hasn’t done the best job of that in recent years, and it will need to evolve to get that job done.

Evolve to what? I dunno. That’s above my pay grade. I can only tell you that it needs to be more that what it was this year: selfie ops with giant statues of dragons and other mythical beasts, and so many empty spaces where booths used to stand that I was starkly reminded of a mall full of shuttered shops.

Disagree with our picks? Think we're a bunch of clowns? Let us know in the Chatty below.

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