As was the case last year, Sony has decided to skip E3 2020 in favor of doing it’s own thang in the lead up to this holiday season’s scheduled launch of the PlayStation 5. This is the second time that Sony has skipped an E3, but the first time that it will do so immediately prior to a console launch. Longtime bedfellows, Sony announced the release date and pricing for the original PlayStation at the inaugural Electronic Entertainment Expo in May of 1995, which I remember happening, despite it taking place 25 years ago. Gonna go sit down for a second.
“After thorough evaluation [Sony Interactive Entertainment] has decided not to participate in E3 2020,” reads an official statement made to GamesIndustry. “We have great respect for the [Entertainment Software Association] as an organization, but we do not feel the vision of E3 2020 is the right venue for what we are focused on this year.”
The Sony spokesperson goes on to say that SIE will still show up for “hundreds of consumer events across the globe,” without naming specifics, as the PlayStation 5 approaches. “We have a fantastic line up of titles coming to PlayStation 4, and with the upcoming launch of PlayStation 5, we are truly looking forward to a year of celebration with our fans.”
For its part, the ESA has responded by … restating the basic premise of E3. “E3 is a signature event celebrating the video game industry and showcasing the people, brands and innovations redefining entertainment loved by billions of people around the world,” according to a post on the ESA’s website entitled “ESA Statement on Sony E3 2020 Announcement.” “E3 2020 will be an exciting, high-energy show featuring new experiences, partners, exhibitor spaces, activations, and programming that will entertain new and veteran attendees alike. Exhibitor interest in our new activations is gaining the attention of brands that view E3 as a key opportunity to connect with video game fans worldwide.”
The ESA has had a hell of a time trying to maintain E3’s relevance in a world where Twitch and Twitter exist. As an industry-only show for the majority of its existence, E3 traditionally subsisted on a steady diet of developers and publishers, who used the show for networking and deals making. A generous side order of journalists served as the only real pathway for news to make it from the show to the rest of the general public, and thus did the circle of life maintain itself.
But once the internet happened, publishers and developers gained the ability to talk directly to consumers, thus making the need for one centralized trade show increasingly irrelevant. (This irrelevancy also laid claim to the entire print games journalism industry, as well as the staggering number of online publications that have closed their doors in the last decade.)
The ESA attempted to navigate these tumultuous waters by opening E3 to the public in 2017, but the general consensus is that this was not as successful as the ESA probably hoped. Though attendance numbers briefly spiked in 2018, last year’s show saw a decline of more than 3,000 attendees.
At its core, the issue is that as a consumer show, E3 pales in comparison to the likes of PAX or Gamescom, and as an industry show, it just doesn’t need to exist. It also doxxed all of us last year, which, cool. Great. Hope everything works out for y’all!