Gamers rejoice! For E3 is almost upon us. A week of gaming news as all of the big developers run forth and announce their big projects for the upcoming years while giving us glimpses of some more immediate titles either via special playable demos or trailers. To most gamers, it’s an event to look forward to.
Starting out not as the Electronic Entertainment Expo but as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) it was a twice-yearly show in which the newest in electronics would be shown off, from car alarms to telephones it was a place for everything under one roof, it wasn’t until 1995 when we first saw the divorce between the Video Games industry from the main show. When plans first came about for a new show catering for video games specifically it was SEGA of America that immediately jumped at it to support the new show and when E3 was actually announced that was when other companies began to jump at the chance to join in, it wasn’t until the new show was gaining the attention when Nintendo of America decided to jump in too, initially reluctant to show face and instead choosing to stay with CES.
Interestingly the first E3 Nintendo decided to announce a year delay for the Nintendo 64, while they would still encompass a large part of the event with their Super Nintendo, Game Boy and Virtual Boy booths it was SEGA and Sony who made the big announcements, of course, Sony’s being the incredible Playstation, SEGA announced the Sega Saturn was imminent and customers could purchase the console immediately.
Attendees would find themselves spoilt for choice at the event with items such as the actual Judge Dredd Motorcycle and the Batmobile being on show while games such as Virtua Cop and Mortal Kombat 3, other notable announcements were for the Neo-Geo CD and the Atari-Jaguar VR. E3 1995 saw the start of the emergence of the Booth Babes too as Nintendo, Acclaim, 3DO and other companies used sex appeal to try and garner attention, but it wasn’t just girls used for this as a group of ‘Klingon’ characters from Star Trek were used to draw attention to the booths.
E3 would over the years continue to be the dream place for companies to unveil their new consoles and games and would be covered by a wide array of media from Newspapers, TV, Magazines and the dawn of the Internet brought, even more, eyes onto the event.
Over the years we would see thousands of games roll out to the world, from Metal Gear Solid, Super Mario 64, Half-Life, Grand Theft Auto 3, Halo, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Super Smash Bros Melee and, Wii Sports among others and with so many eyes the excitement only seemed to grow. Of course, we would always get some hilarious misfires from the company. Nintendo wasting half of their show attempting to show the joys of Wii Music, Sony shouting ‘Ridge Racer’ to an indifferent audience to Microsoft and EA successfully putting the entire world to sleep by over focusing so heavily on sports. We won’t even go into the depths fo Ubisoft’s Battle Tag.
Due to the amount of hype generated each year there is always a certain degree of disappointment from the fans when their favourite franchise doesn’t get another instalment or an update (MOTHER 3) other times too much focus goes into one area that everything else is left behind (Sony announcing the PS3 and forgetting to announce games).
Current day and E3 continues to be a popular time for gamers, although it has lost a lot of it’s shine. This is down to the rise of streaming and digital distribution, ten years ago E3 was primarily the way for companies to show off new titles, but now it’s far easier and efficient to announce them as and when needed. It’s proving to be a more cost effective way of announcing games, rather than hiring a hall and the numerous amount of staff and construction needed.
Some companies such as Nintendo are already looking at this, choosing to stream their own announcements and using social media to help gain momentum while also having a slight presence at the event itself by allowing guests to play the games seen. It’s proving to be a far more effective way of doing things and allows multiple shows to happen a year, keeping the hype and momentum going for updates over the entire year rather than focusing on one.
Are E3’s days numbered or will it continue to thrive is anyone’s guess. I for one hope that it continues to be a relevant source of announcements for time to come.