Back in the 90s and early 2000s, I thought E3 was one of the coolest things ever. I mean, you have games that are previewed 1-2 years in advance for all to see! Some games end up cancelled after E3, but those rare few who got to play those beta builds of said cancelled games at E3 were often treated like gods. Over time though, E3 has lost that majesty. Once upon a time, E3 felt like this sacred place where only the chosen could go to witness the newest games before release.
Nowadays, E3 is more of a giant comedy act, full of technical issues, really cringy sketches and catchphrases, and very few newly announced games. I respect that a lot of people still enjoy E3 and hold it in high regard, I’m not trying to change the opinions of those people. What I want is to discuss why I think E3 has devolved from being this legendary event into more of a comedy act.
I think it comes down to the audience shift, mostly. You see, gaming was once upon a time a medium exclusive to mostly nerds and kids. However, as the casual audience grew, so did the demand to cater to said audience. Like I said before, I have nothing against the casual audience. The thing is that developers seem to think people who play games casually want just simple experiences and nothing else, when most casual gamers I know relish the challenge of trying to figure games out. I discussed this before about how RPGs are becoming oversimplified because of such demand, but sadly video-game related shows seem to be hit hard by this even more.
Both the Video Game Award Show and E3 feel more like they want to entertain the audience with bad sketches and crummy memes, rather than show the games. While this is done to cater to the more casual and modern audience, it fails at even doing that. A lot of people just watch these events and roll their eyes. Sure, the casual audience does tend to favor simpler game, but not simpler events.
I know I don’t speak for everyone, since I’m not a casual gamer, but it seems to me that these gaming events are just alienating a lot of people with how they present stuff. Most casual audiences go to these events for the games, not for odd skits and over-acting. Again, I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s the general consensus I seem to get from these events.
It probably doesn’t help that this year presented a rather small influx of new games. Aside from a crossover between Rabbids and Mario, and a new Monster Hunter game, there was nothing that really grabbed me. Sadly, it’s been like this the past couple of years. These shows feel like they are scarce on new games, and more like they just want to advertise stuff they already talked about.
The shows themselves are not too special. Nowadays, a lot of game studios put a giant video advertising new stuff, instead of having people come out to present the new games and content. Couple this with technical issues, like demos not running properly on stage, and you have a show that lacks substance. When you combine that with the terrible sketches and forced jokes, you have something that feels like more of a parody of itself.
E3 definitely makes me laugh, but not in the way it should. I laugh more because of how much I think the expo has fallen, rather than the sketches and comedy its trying to present. Now, you make be thinking that I hate this event. I dislike the event, but I have no real hatred for it. I’m just disappointed by this event, since it has been slipping in quality in the past decade.
I can still watch the show and get some mild entertainment out of it, I just have no urge to spend the 100s of dollars required to get me over to the States to go see it. While I respect that a lot of hard work goes into events such as these, I’m still going to judge an event by the quality of the entertainment. After all, you don’t go to a Metallica concert just to hear a bunch of aged musicians fiddle with a microphone for two hours.
Like I said before, you’re allowed to enjoy E3 and I’m not trying to stop that. I just don’t like that E3 is trying to advertise itself to a specific audience that comes to the event for what it used to be, instead of what it is now. Both the casual and hardcore gamers deserve an event that treats them with respect and intelligence. I mean, there is the Tokyo Game Show and a few game-centric conventions out there, but that’s about it! I can at least say that E3 manages to be more entertaining than most conventions, but that’s more in a bad way than a good one.