2020 didn’t exactly turn out like we envisioned it. The year was supposed to be a lead in to the new console generation—Sony even touting “hundreds of consumer events” in light of its E3 absence—but the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t exactly care about those or anyone else’s marketing plans for the year. Enter Summer Game Fest, a four-month-long season of celebrating games that doesn’t require travel, hotel reservations, or physical interaction. The event will include announcements, demos, deals, in-game events, and more surprises over the next four months.
Geoff Keighley, the games industry’s rallying flag, has been working to set up Summer Game Fest in light of this year’s event cancellations. He didn’t want 2020 to be the first year without a “big, magic industry-wide moment,” so he created the ultimate digital festival of game events to give developers, publishers, fans, and everyone in the games industry a rallying point this year.
It’s time to play the future. pic.twitter.com/JZiPToqpjM
— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) May 1, 2020
Keighley makes it clear that Summer Game Fest is not a single show. It’s not a replacement for E3, gamescom, or any number of other canceled events, but rather a flag that can fly over multiple events throughout the summer; a kind of hub and structure to the announcements coming this summer that provide an outlet for exhibitors who were left scrambling when COVID-19 hit.
It will include a developer showcase with former E3 partner and creative directors iam8bit, as well as the finale of Summer Game Fest at gamescom Opening Night Live on August 24, transitioning from Keighley’s season of events to gamescom’s digital event later this year.
The first phase of the festival includes some major names in the games industry, including CD Projekt RED, 2K, Betheseda, Bungie, Activision, EA, Warner Bros., and even PlayStation. It remains to be seen to what scope and scale each of these companies participates, but it does lead to some very exciting speculation about reveals surrounding the next major Destiny expansion, the PlayStation 5, and whatever it is that Warner Bros. has been keeping under wraps for so long at various studios.
PHASE 1 pic.twitter.com/GLM0huFLBg
— summergamefest (@summergamefest) May 1, 2020
Launcher reports that Keighley wants Summer Game Fest to be an “open-sourced model” that encourages participation and everyone to join in under its banner. He also mentioned that interactivity is the key. “Interactivity really is at the heart of this,” Keighley said. “I don’t see this as merely a collection of digital events or a link farm.” That’s one of the biggest things missing with physical events being canceled is the opportunity for people to get their hands on upcoming games and tech. How exactly that translates to Summer Game Fest has yet to be detailed.
In an interview with GameIndustry.biz, Keighley explained the reason why it’s a four-month-long show and not a single event or few days of reveals and announcements. “It seemed clear that game companies were still going to be doing events. But for a while, it was unclear if their timelines changed because of coronavirus and work-from-home. The demo that they were going to do for E3 is probably the first thing that gets cut out of their production schedule because they still are trying to meet [deadlines]. So there were a lot of conversations amongst all of the platforms and publishers on what they were going to do. And it became clear that it wasn’t all gonna line up to two or three days where everything was going to happen.” He says that the thought of a 90-minute show and then the lights turn off is a very “old-school” view that just doesn’t mesh with what we need right now.
You can head over to the Summer Game Fest site to sign up for updates when the schedule is posted and updated so you can follow along throughout the summer with your favorite developers and publishers. Summer Game Fest will be an event to watch, as it could very likely become the template for how consumer events are structured in the future. Keighley’s not sure what the future of the show will look like once August comes around, but he’s certain he will continue to partner with publishers and developers and be a rallying voice for the industry in the years to come.