News Article

Talking Point: Why Gaming Needs E3

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

A spectacle like no other

It’s the final weekend before E3 2012, and thousands of members of the gaming industry and mainstream press are descending on Los Angeles to attend. It’s amazing that a single convention has risen to such prominence in the gaming calendar, but that’s the status that E3 has earned: while there may be a number of other events and video game conventions throughout the year, few seem to capture the imagination quite like the L.A. behemoth. E3 has become a focal point for publishers, developers and the three main hardware manufacturers to stake claims on our attention and loyalties.

There’s an extraordinary amount of hype around a single three day convention, but it’s an occasion that's invaluable to the gaming industry as it continues to evolve and face new challenges. We’ll look at it from a Nintendo perspective, and ask why E3 is so important to gaming.

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Grabbing the headlines

It seems almost unfair on the many other gaming expos that E3 plays such a dominant role in the year. Events such as the Tokyo Game Show, Gamescom and Eurogamer Expo, to name just three of many, all bring big venues, high-quality organisation and a love of gaming to the table. In terms of intense media coverage, however, they can’t match up to E3, which the gaming media in particular embraces with the fervour that its readers demand. Perhaps it’s the fact that the North American outlets treat it as the year’s conference of all conferences, the glamour of the venue or a mixture of both reasons. Whatever the case, E3 dominates the landscape.

From Nintendo’s perspective, and that of its rivals in the console business, it’s a media extravaganza with levels of exposure that simply have to be exploited. While playing to industry websites such as this one is part of Nintendo’s goal, it will also be keen to win headlines from the mainstream press such as newspapers, TV stations and general technology publications. For news outlets with only a fleeting interest in what’s happening in gaming, E3 can represent a catch-all opportunity to learn about what’s big in the industry right now and in the future, without necessarily following it day-to-day throughout the year.

For attendees at E3, therefore, it’s a chaotic wall of noise as companies chase attention and favour. Nintendo has enjoyed a lot of headlines in recent years after unveiling 3DS in 2010, Wii U in 2011 and now Wii U again this year. Nintendo's efforts last year had mixed success, which takes us to the most significant aspect of E3.

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Major reveals to a global audience

For Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony there’s one big focus at E3: big game and hardware announcements to excite gamers and, hopefully, other consumers looking on. Announcing big-name games or consoles is also a sure-fire way to grab the headlines that we’ve just mentioned, so that explains why much attention is focused on the press conference presentations of each company. In fact, for those looking on from the outside it’s the press conferences that stay in the memory, not necessarily talk of a particular game impressing in a demo booth.

If the conference hall is for attendees, then, the press conference is for those watching from outside. As mentioned earlier, Nintendo has used its last two conferences to show off new consoles for the first time, outside of unexpected leaks and against a backdrop of fevered speculation. Much thought and effort undoubtedly goes into the script for the conference and the accompanying footage that is showed off, which probably means that Nintendo will have been disappointed with some media reaction after Wii U emerged. Some were full of praise while others were confused: is it a tablet to go with the Wii, is it a handheld? Mistakes that will no doubt be avoided this year.

Nintendo is understandably going all-out this year to ensure that its big reveals for Wii U’s launch and, let’s not forget, upcoming 3DS titles will be available to as many people as possible: Facebook, YouTube and its own dedicated website will be showing the event live. While the company often plays it safe in giving others access to stream its broadcasts online — such as Nintendo Direct — the big N has given gaming websites access to the E3 coverage, allowing us to broadcast it here, for instance.

The main point is that through media and the focus of the press conference, and to a lesser degree follow-up roundtables and events, Nintendo can show an enormous audience the gaming entertainment that it offers. It calls the shots, controlling how we see a new game or console for the first time; it’s a vital 75 minutes every year when it comes around.

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Gamers, developers and journalists all together

E3 isn’t just about the big name developers, however, with a number of small studios and publishers also attending with booths and game demonstrations. The preparations for the event often involve plenty of emails and tweets between game writers and these smaller exhibitors to arrange times for interviews and gaming sessions. For smaller developers well known on Nintendo platforms such as Renegade Kid, Nnooo and Gaijin Games, E3 offers an invaluable opportunity to show off their work and get to know those who’ll be telling readers all about their games.

The main purpose of E3, beyond business and networking, is surely to entertain us gamers. There’s a reason that so many enthusiasts get excited at this time of the year; it's because it’s a festival of game reveals, footage and unexpected delights. For those who love video games, E3 is guaranteed to have a number of moments to enjoy.

Gaming needs E3, because there’s nothing else quite like it.

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User Comments (38)

yobucky

#1

yobucky said:

Yeah I agree it's a pity that other conferences don't get the same coverage but at least in making all the major announcements at one event it makes it easier to follow what's going on. If they announced new hardware sometimes at the other events it would mean you'd need to keep up with all of them which could get a little old...

arrmixer

#3

arrmixer said:

@yobokkie
yeah and from a marketing stand point it is an ideal setting.. kinda like a super bowl or league championship game attention grabber... but bigger since this is a world wide thing.. guess world cup on a yearly basis?

CapnPancakes

#5

CapnPancakes said:

E3 is like Christmas to me. It is without a doubt the most exciting gaming event of the year. You know you're hyped for E3 when you have dreams about it :D

HP_3

#12

HP_3 said:

I've been to 7 E3 events (E3 1999-2005) in L.A. The excitement on the show floor hypes gamers up big time! Not to mention all the free goodies you get. Long live E3!

hydeks

#13

hydeks said:

I like E3 because it's basicly the only show where you really get to see ALL of what Nintendo has in store for us, and usually, Nintendo is VERY quiet about everything till E3 happens as well :P

CorbsAdmin

#15

Corbs said:

E3 is like heaven for gamers. Nothing else like it on the planet. :D

WhiteTrashGuy

#16

WhiteTrashGuy said:

I've been following E3 since the early 90's and it boggled my mind that just up until 10 years ago most of my friends did not know what it was. For me E3 is just as big as the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards; it's a freakin' holiday!

CanisWolfred

#17

CanisWolfred said:

"Grabbing the headlines"

Translation: Getting lost in the crowd.

"Major reveals to a global audience"

Translation: Revealing things that half the world doesn't care about and the other half already knew about.

"Gamers, developers and journalists all together"

Translation: Gamers watch from afar while developers talk and journalists misinterpret, stretch, and bend pretty much everything they say.

Yeah, we really do need E3. :P

sinalefa

#20

sinalefa said:

I guess its importance comes from the fact that it is directed to the North American market, which is probably the biggest one regarding games. And that market also includes Canada and Latin America.

And besides that, it must be one of the few conferences where all the hardware companies participate. And one that we can see live from anywhere in the world.

I took the day off at work, and that must be like the only year event where I do that. Definitely excited, even more than last year.

coolvw93

#22

coolvw93 said:

yes, i totally agree, it gets all the hype ready for new games coming out in the holiday season. only a few more days away....

Chrono_Cross

#23

Chrono_Cross said:

E3 is just an event that announces a large portion of games and sometimes a system in a matter of an hour.

We don't need it but it's a very convenient occasion that announces everything in one go so we don't have to wait weeks at a time to learn more information.

NintyMan

#24

NintyMan said:

While other conferences can be important as well, what makes E3 such a critical event is how much coverage and exposure it gets. It's the one time of the year when Nintendo can finally shed light on their biggest secrets, and at no other time or place would Nintendo spill the beans so quickly.

The games revealed during the conference also often have a very good chance for me to get them come Christmas time or earlier, so it's also a very profitable time for the future. Right now, we don't know much about what's coming this fall and winter, but after Nintendo shows the line-up, it all becomes very clear. I very much consider E3 a holiday for me.

HP_3

#27

HP_3 said:

@SkywardLink98
Yes, things like that, lots of t-shirts, gaming contests, and beautiful women. I'll never forget E3 2001 when the Gamecube was first playable to the public. That year Nintendo had the most people in their booth than any other company at the show. Great times!

Haywired

#29

Haywired said:

@tealovertoma
Brilliant.

As for E3 in general, well obviously it is an amazing event and an amazing time of the year, but on the downside, I've always found it kind of overwhelming and mentally exhausting to have to take in so much information and so many new announcements all at once. It's a bit of an excitement overload. Each year I get into a weird state where I both look forward to it and dread it in equal measure.

Henmii

#30

Henmii said:

If the industry wants to be as relevant as the movie industry, it just needs a very big annual show. The smaller, cheaper event from a few years ago was a big misstake!!

I am happy that the show is big again, and in June (as it should be, in my opinion)!

Pastry

#33

Pastry said:

I feel more excited about this year's E3 since Nintendo clambered its way back up to my #1 favorite developer.

FJOJR

#36

FJOJR said:

TV has Emmys, Movies have Oscars, the 4 major sports have all star games and playoffs. E3 is gaming's biggest spectacle, especially when there is no definitive major awards show.

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