Geoff Keighley is no longer sure what E3 is. Even before COVID forced the cancellation of the personal version of a giant video game ad that pretended to be a trade show for three years in a row, the event was already a pale, grand-triple imitation of its previous version.
E3 is back. The organizers said it in a very “real” way this time. But when I asked Keighley about the prospect of E3 and Summer Game Fest – affectionately known as Not-E3 or my personal favorite, the Keigh-3 – co-existing next year, he just didn’t seem convinced they would have to.
“E3 said they were coming back. I don’t know what that means, do I? told me at the new personal component of the Los Angeles Summer Game Fest. “So I don’t know what that means.”
His skepticism is justified. Last year, ESA announced it would be issuing an E3 2022 just to cancel not only a personal event (which was likely to be justified considering the pandemic was still going on), but also a digital version.
And while the prospect of E3 entering the aether of Thanos’ ala snap is an undesirable thought for some, Keighley is pleased that he continues to wonder if E3 is around to compete for people’s attention or not.
“I don’t know what E3 is,” he said matter-of-factly. “I think we need to define what E3 is before we can say whether it’s competitive or not.”
“We are very pleased with the experience,” he added. “And publishers who are truly our partners seem to be pleased with that as well. So we’re just gonna keep doing what we’re doing and increasing it. “
Scale is important for newer events like Summer Game Fest, and it’s something Keighley said he thought of as he pondered his future in the after and even contemporaneous world of E3. Play Days, a personal component of Keigh-3 open to media and influencers, was a small event – too small, some argue, without the known presence of big hits like Sony, Xbox or Nintendo. (Although Microsoft had little presence thanks to the standalone id @ Xbox program and the Samsung Smart TV app.)
Keighley admitted that Game Fest has not done enough. “Some fans apparently wanted more announcements of new games to be announced, which is completely fair feedback,” he said. “But we can only display games that are actually made.”
Although there were some notable names like Sonic Frontiers and Street Fighter 6and the keynote itself had so many space shooters that it became a meme, Play Days decided to focus primarily on a smaller, eclectic selection of games from solo and indie developers, which Keighley felt seemed almost more attractive than focusing solely on what coming from the big three.
“We have a lot of great indie games here because these are the people who really need exposure,” he said. “This is the magic of these events that we can put together.”
He’s right. There was something magical about being able to play a game that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the time to do in a large, saturated space like E3 (I’m saying presumably because I’ve never been to E3 … already). I was in love with charming and spooky yet comfortable vibes Birth. A little to the leftwhich contains puzzles that ask “how these random objects fit together” immediately calmed my association-obsessed brain. When I asked Keighley which games he liked, he called up the fantastic ones Time flies in which you play like a fly tasked with fulfilling as many events on your bucket list as “get drunk” or “learn guitar” as much as you can in a few seconds of flight. Games like these get buried at E3.
“I just love that we can have a variety of content here,” said Keighley. “The discovery element is so crucial for these indie developers, and I am proud that we can have indie games as part of the program.”
At The Game Awards last December, Keighley made a declaration that “we should not and will not tolerate any abuse, harassment or predatory behavior by anyone, including our online communities.”
While he didn’t mention a specific company or developer, it was clear the comment was referring to news regarding Activision Blizzard. The Observation the publisher was not present at this year’s Game Awards, but showed up to show off Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II at Summer Game Fest. “I think Activision’s situation has evolved,” he said, noting that “of course there is a lot to do.”
He said that he and his team are thinking about how to get the most out of their platform, which is why they have spoken out about Ukraine, but with Game Fest it is a difficult situation with a delicate balance that must be taken into account.
“How are we still allowing the work of developers to be recognized and involved in these programs while still thinking about what is happening with the larger companies?”
While it’s very possible (and perhaps easier than Keighley thinks), Keighley seems to think Game Fest should only be about games.
“I think Summer Game Fest is a bit different than The Game Awards. Game Awards is a recognition of industry excellence, an award ceremony, and Summer Game Fest is a promotional event for video games. So this is on a different level. ”
Despite the relatively small size of Game Fest, Keighley finds it a success, something he hopes to repeat elsewhere. He has kicked out places like London and Australia as options for which he could use the event as a way to “decentralize the old model of a consumer trade show or trade show” like E3. And whether E3 really does take place next year or not, Keighley doesn’t mind the prospect of competing for eyeballs.
“I think it’s a different philosophy,” he said. “Kind of like a red ocean strategy versus a blue ocean. Do you compete with your buddy in the water or do you find your own space? And I hope Play Days and Summer Game Fest have found their own space. “