So, as many have probably already read, Sony is skipping the E3 gaming conference in 2019, which has led to a ton of speculation across the internet. People were shocked, and rightfully so, as E3 is arguably the biggest gaming conference held annually. Since everyone else is chiming in, I wanted to write my own post about how I feel about Sony’s decision and what this may mean for the future of the games industry.
First of all, while Sony’s announcement does feel out of the blue, it actually isn’t particularly shocking in hindsight. In 2018, they got a lot of criticism for a weird and lackluster stage presentation that involved different sets and funneling the press into different areas in order to match the thematic elements of the environment to the trailers they were showing. While this was an interesting idea on paper, the actual result of trying to move thousands of people from point A to point B was a logistical nightmare that got in the way of actually showcasing the games. This, combined with the speculation that Sony plans to launch the PS5 in 2020 and that they also cancelled this year’s PSX, all provides evidence that skipping E3 was a possibility for the company.
Now that I have summarized the controversy, let’s get into an analysis. Let me preface this with one statement, though: I love Sony and grew up with PlayStation consoles. With that said, this latest development just furthers my own personal opinion that Sony has been exceptionally lazy and out of touch with pleasing fans this generation. They rely entirely upon their, albeit fantastic, first-party exclusive titles to carry their brand. Everything else that they have to offer is decidedly anti-consumer in nature, through refusing to offer backwards compatibility unless you pay for a subscription service, having internet services that are still frequently slowed down or stopped for maintenance, and now skipping conferences and leaving fans in the dark about what is coming next for the company. Sony has gotten lazy because they are so far ahead this generation that they can just ride it out and set sights on the PS5. Their games are great, but they have little else to offer at this point.
On this point, however, I think Sony should be careful. Up until now, they have been reliant on the fact that they have the exclusives and fans would put up with bad business practices for those titles. Microsoft just acquired many new gaming studios for their consoles, however, and while it will take a few years to start seeing results, we are looking at the potential for Microsoft to finally have the exclusives that their consoles deserve. In addition to the potential for new exclusives, Microsoft has been allowing for backwards compatibility without paying extra, making adaptive controllers that allow everyone to get into gaming, and making an affordable and exciting subscription service that contains first-party titles day one. If Microsoft plays their cards right, they could take advantage of Sony’s absence to announce some great titles and get the spotlight pointed at them.
Of course, as far as E3 goes next year, the larger question is what happens to the future of the conference if the major publishers keep bowing out? While everyone gets excited for E3, it does seem like the buzz dies down a little more with each passing year. Between the constant leaks of information, to the fact that any developer can create a livestream at anytime now and thousands of people will tune in, therefore making formal events like E3 feel less necessary in the modern age, E3 is beginning to feel a bit antiquated. If E3 wants to continue to thrive in the modern gaming scene, then publishers need to get a handle on the leaks and make E3 feel like waking up on Christmas morning again.
Overall, I don’t feel great about Sony’s decision to skip E3. I feel like it will hurt Sony and E3, and the only silver lining in this is that it may allow Microsoft to get some positive attention for a while. While I don’t believe that Sony skipping automatically means the death of E3, I do think that the convention should look at this as the early signs of illness and try to find a way to revitalize the conference before it’s too late.
What are your thoughts on E3 and Sony’s choices? Let me know in the comments below!