Four months? Seriously? Three days is normally too long for a gaming event.
It’s been a weird run-in to what would have been E3 2020. After its plans for a new, influencer-heavy focus and “queuetainment” leaked, both Geoff Keighley and Iam8bit withdrew from the event. Keighley was from his usual Coliseum presenting duties, while Iam8bit was due to be responsible for the new show-floor format.
It was all looking pretty bleak for E3 and The ESA. Then everything changed when COVID-19 attacked.
Events were cancelled left, right and centre, including Google IO, Twitchcon, Mobile World Congress, and South by Southwest. Others were postponed until later in the year, like GDC and EGX Rezzed (though Rezzed has now been cancelled proper), while Gamescom will continue on as a digital-only event.
And then there’s E3. It seems cynical to say it, but cancelling E3 2020 due to a pandemic might actually have allowed The ESA to save a little face.
Today, some pieces of the puzzle – with regards Geoff Keighley and Iam8bit – look to be falling into place, as Keighley has announced the new Summer Game Fest event.
Introducing @summergamefest, a new season of news, in-game events, and playable content from the entire video game industry. May – August 2020, and a developer showcase with @iam8bit too. See you soon! https://t.co/Hp7WuLrjXk pic.twitter.com/DashSP4Q5I
— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) May 1, 2020
Summer Game Fest, which lasts four months – yes, four – follows a similar format to Keighley’s other new event, The Games Festival, which will feature a combination of announcements, live events, and free demos. (All of which replicates the general content of a video game expo, with none of the show floor armpit aroma. You won’t hear us complaining about that.)
You could argue that Keighley is stepping in to try and save the summer event schedule. It’s weird to think of a summer without big video game events, especially in a new console year. In that context, it sounds heroic. Noble. Selfless. And judging by the list of participants in the header image above, publishers have been quick to flock to Summer Game Fest.
But you could also argue that Keighley’s event is opportunistic, predatory, and maybe a little cynical. It reflects an industry that has been turning away from E3 over the years, with publishers switching to digital formats, hosting their own parallel events in Los Angeles, or even abandoning the event altogether. The shift from industry to fan focus has changed E3’s priority and place in the industry; it’s a costly event that may be demonstrating diminishing returns for publishers and platform holders.
E3 isn’t even dead yet, but it seems like Geoff’s already burying it.
It’s time to play the future. pic.twitter.com/JZiPToqpjM
— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) May 1, 2020
He is keen to point out that he’ll still be hosting Opening Night Live for Gamescom 2020’s digital-only event, though. He doesn’t want to bury every gaming expo – just E3. (So far. But if we were Gamescom, we’d probably keep half an eye on him.)
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