Sony won’t be at E3 this year, marking a massive shift that’s shedding quite a light on the industry’s annual show and its continued relevance. We’ve all known that for quite a while now, but what we didn’t expect was Sony to keep making its presence felt all throughout the window of time leading up to E3. From early reveals of the innards that will power the PS5, to a bunch of exciting game announcements, Sony doesn’t seem ready to let people forget about the PlayStation brand, despite not being at this year’s show.
In fact, it paints a pretty grim picture for the future of E3, which has turned from an industry trade show into more of an open, public expo. That in turn has turned away numerous major players. We’ve seen the likes of EA ditch the show to hold its own event. Activision doesn’t have a booth on the floor this year. Sony and Microsoft have pulled back. Even as more and more gamers are purchasing overpriced passes to the show floor, the show floor is becoming less enticing to actually attend anymore. E3 is a vestige of days gone by, with press conferences and industry meetings that have become obsolete in the era of livestreams, teleconferences, and individualized events.
Sony is proving that it doesn’t need an E3 press conference to keep relevant. It doesn’t need to show off its games at the show, vying for attention as every other brand tries to do the same thing. The State of Play live streams have been plenty to keep all eyes on what Sony’s doing next. And even the impending Death Stranding reveal has drawn the attention of many. Sony and PlayStation’s reputation means that they don’t need to hold an “all eyes on me” press conference to drum up excitement. I mean, they rekindled the excitement around Final Fantasy VII Remake with a simple surprise trailer at the end of a State of Play broadcast. Now that might get expanded on during Square Enix’s portion of E3, but it was started by Sony outside the confines of the show, and it will likely continue well after E3 has ended.
In an era when companies can connect with their fans directly, and faster than ever before, there’s not much reason for them to compete with every other publisher, developer, and video game announcement under the sun. E3 used to be a convenient place for the industry to gather, gain information, having meetings, and get that information out to eager fans. Now, however, the role of the show has been diminished. There’s still value in a week where attention turns towards the video game industry, but more and more, companies like Sony, EA, and Activision are discovering that spending loads of money on it just doesn’t make sense for them anymore. Strategies are changing and we are going to see a very different distribution model for information going into the next generation. Sony maintaining relevance in spite of pulling out of E3 just proves it.
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