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#179: No show
The platform holders skipping E3 2023 is disappointing, but not surprising — and far from a fatal blow.
Let us begin the week with a topic that is particularly dear to Hit Points’ withered old heart: E3, the planned revival of which, courtesy of new organiser ReedPop, appears to have hit a bit of a stumbling block. Overnight IGN reported that neither Microsoft, Sony nor Nintendo will be on hand with the defibrillators when E3 re-opens its doors at the LA Convention Center in June.
While this is of course disappointing, I am not sure it is all that surprising. Sony had already abandoned ship by the time the pandemic struck, its absence leaving quite the show-floor vacuum at the last pre-Covid E3 in 2019. Microsoft has its own arena just around the corner, where it holds its press conference and most of its media appointments. And Nintendo… well, with Zelda out in May and no new hardware on the horizon, I doubt the house of Mario has an awful lot to show us this year. I do not think any of these companies declining to pay for booth space can be read solely as an indictment of E3 or ReedPop.
Well, maybe a little bit. IGN’s report also hints at trouble behind the scenes at the trade body behind E3, the Entertainment Software Association. The website’s sources also claim that many companies’ relationship with the ESA has deteriorated over the past few years, and that ReedPop hasn’t quite done enough to restore confidence since it took over. And of course the very concept of in-person conventions is a hard sell these days. There are, it seems, a lot of good reasons for E3 to go the way of the dodo.
But I am not sure this is a fatal blow. For years now E3 has been about much more than the convention centre; indeed, for those watching from afar (and many attendees as well) the show floor is the least exciting part of it. It is the press conferences that kick off the week that get people in the biggest lather, and while I always got a little thrill from the scale of the platform-holder booths at the show itself, I never spent that much time at them.
In fact, at most of the E3s I have attended my interest in the platform holders had pretty much evaporated by the time the convention centre opened its doors. My E3 experience was as much, if not more, about the thirdparty publishers, the little meeting rooms and the tucked-away indie booths; unearthing hidden gems, finding new games, companies and people to be inspired by and excited about. There’ll still be plenty of that to be had this year, whether the platform holders show up or not. In fact there’ll be time, and room, for even more of it.
And of course, these companies swerving the show floor does not mean they will not be involved at all. Microsoft has already committed to a Los Angeles showcase in June. We can surely expect Nintendo to announce a Direct when the time comes, too. Sony is a bit of a wildcard, fond as it is these days of parping out a big State Of Play on a random Thursday when we least expect it. But if everyone else is there, well, you never know.
I doubt E3’s new organisers are that downcast either. Sure, ReedPop would have loved for the big three to come back, but they’d have been fools to count on it and I strongly doubt anyone over there truly did. Rebuilding E3 will be a process, and ReedPop has enough on its plate working out how best to refashion a trade show into a hybrid trade/consumer one amid lingering anxiety about in-person events in a not-entirely-post-pandemic world.
When ReedPop’s involvement was announced, GI.biz’s Chris Dring wrote thoughtfully about the form a new-look E3 should take, acknowledging that ‘E3’ as a concept spans miles beyond the convention’s walls, and suggesting that the likes of EA Play and Summer Game Fest be seen as collaborators, rather than competitors. This is a big job. It will take years to get right, and while Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo coming back would have made ReedPop’s life a lot easier, their absence isn’t the death knell it may seem. I just submitted my media registration, put it that way.
Optimism! Heavens, it’s been a while. I doubt I shall be able to make much of a habit of it, so let’s enjoy it while we can.
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A rather muted response to Friday’s edition, which considered whether Microsoft has finally turned a corner with Game Pass. (There was plenty of chat in the Discord, but it was mostly about kids’ birthday parties.) Let’s get this thing back up and running, hmm? Leave a comment, hop in the Discord, or hit reply to this very email and we’ll try again next time.
Sony has reportedly halved production of PSVR2 after weak pre-orders of the headset ahead of its launch next month. This is no great surprise given how poor the value proposition is, both in terms of price and the uninspiring nature of its launch line-up. Sony apparently projected 2m sales in the device’s first quarter on shelves, which was always a bit optimistic. Ho hum.
In another ominous sign for VR, Meta has slashed $400 off the price of its premium Quest Pro headset just three months after launch. It’s only for a couple of weeks but sheesh. Not looking great, is it.
Microsoft is raising the price of Xbox Series X and S in Japan by ¥5,000 (£31) with effect from February 17. Also not great.
In addition to co-publishing the next Tomb Raider, Amazon is reportedly working on film and TV adaptations of Lara Croft’s globe-trotting adventures in a bid to “build out a connected world… in a fashion akin to what Marvel has already accomplished.” Not sure this one has legs, honestly, but Phoebe Waller-Bridge is writing the TV show so you never know.
Phil Spencer has insisted “the heart and soul of Halo is with 343 and the team that’s there” after reports that development of future series entries would be farmed out to partner studios. The full interview’s well worth a read; I know I give Phil and his organisation a right old kicking sometimes, but he remains one of the better ones. You at least get the sense that he means what he says.
Activision Blizzard CCO Lulu Cheng Meservey had a bit of a weird one yesterday, trying to spin the success of HBO’s The Last Of Us adaptation as justification for Acquisition Blizzard. “In gaming,” she wrote, “Sony is ‘the first of us’ — and they will be just fine without the FTC’s protection.” I’m no expert but I’m not sure regulatory bodies are that often convinced by puns, especially ones as bad as that.
Right! That’ll do. I'm hoping to get three editions out this week, though there’s a teachers’ strike tomorrow so the boys are at home and help and argh, but I’ll do my very best. Catch you soon!