Another E3 has come and gone. This year’s multi-day commercial for upcoming video games is sure to … happened. Was it terribly exciting? No, not that we expected it. Was it downright terrible? Also no. However, since it was not possible to gain a foothold on a fully digital stage, the E3 2021 was a showcase for the many different possibilities, as it no longer really makes sense to cram a series of announcements into one week. In this week Split screen, let’s discuss what went wrong.
Ash Parrish, John Walker (Fahey was sick so we called his UK replacement) and I start the episode on a positive note and talk about our favorite games on the series. While nothing ripped us off our feet, we were intrigued by what we saw STALKER 2, Atomic heart, Moonlight bay, Paralives, and a whole mess of other indies. Oh yes, and of course our game of the show: the sandwich from Star field Pendant.
Then we come to a discussion of the format of E3 2021 and the weird way it tried to fill the time between conferences: stilted host banter, E3 boomer nostalgia, developer panels, press briefings, oddly timed influencer interviews, and so on. It was hard to tell who it was for. The Twitch chat clearly hated it, but the Twitch chat hated everything that ended up become a problem yourself.
Finally, we talk about the games and announcements that were nowhere to be found this year. Where was the Switch Pro? Metroid Prime 4? Splatoon 3? Final Fantasy XVI? Bayonetta 3? We don’t know, but we’re pretty sure Hideki Kamiya is going to beat us up for asking
Get the MP3 Here and view an excerpt below.
Ash: For this segment we’re going to talk about it: what the heck was E3 2021 anyway? What was that? What did we just sit through for a week … ish?
John: We don’t need E3 at all. Let’s start with that. E3 is completely unnecessary. The whole industry is doing worse, and if it just died, that would be a good thing. I have a terrible feeling that this year’s online version brought it back to everyone’s attention.
Ash: I have a feeling that it will come back in a reduced state. It will hobble a few more years before it dies a very slow, sad death. I’d love to go to an E3 in person just to say I did. It can’t die until I’m there first – just to see what the hell you’re all talking about. But you can probably believe that these things will exist digitally longer.
Nathan: You’re talking about the digital side, and that’s kind of the strange thing. If everyone is doing things digitally and putting on their own shows, why do we need the E3 umbrella? Or rather, why do we have to involve the E3 organization? What do they really make besides some weird scheduling and filling programs that weren’t meant for anyone?
Ash: I mean, the paint job of seriousness. Everyone else has an industry event thing. As if damn wizards have their own professional organization where they meet somewhere. Video games kind of have that, but not on the same level of professionalism, so they have to do something.
Nathan: I feel like our event where the industry meets this way is the GDC, so E3 doesn’t necessarily fill that niche either. It’s just an odd holdover at this point – especially considering the way they did it this year. Because it was very much that they again claimed to be involved in everything. E3 didn’t exist last summer for obvious reasons, but I think that had enough “Is E3 dead?” to speak – and you also had Geoff Keighley, who left earlier this year – that if E3 had stayed away another year, people would have said, “Okay, it’s definitely dead.”
But what we got in the end was that E3 was great in the last second of everything. They first gave the full schedule for the show – what? – known in the week before the start of the show? And I can’t stress enough how strange the programming of the show was. You had the main conferences, and of course you did, because that’s what everyone comes to E3 for. And in between there were these ongoing panels that didn’t add anything to the show. They were hosted by people who work in different areas of the hosting and influencer space, but it felt like they were just doing one job.
In between, there was also a whole bunch of weird E3 history boomer nostalgia stuff like GamesBeat gave a little glimpse into E3 history, and similarly they had a bunch of journalists talking about their favorite E3 memories on the last day. Something like that works for a podcast like this where people are already interested in the particular personalities present, and that’s what makes people get involved and become interested in a personal experience. But when you have a lot of people the audience doesn’t know and haven’t invested in, the audience says, “Why should I care? I don’t know these people. I’ve never been to this thing before. I’m not tied to it. ”E3 did that so often this year.
In between, they had a strange, seemingly out of place interview with Nadeshot, the head of an esports organization called 100 Thieves. That was bizarre because this would probably be for a completely different audience again than all that weird E3 nostalgia stuff. But they did! They also had developer talks and diversity panels – which were well-intentioned, but not for either of the two target groups mentioned above! In the meantime, the E3 Twitch chat was just awful, absolutely awful. Every time there was talk of diversity or anything else, people would just spit out harmful crap until the folks running the E3 channel finally figured out how to turn on emote-only mode in chat.
Ash: And that didn’t go so well either.
Nathan: Yes, people were only spamming emotes that were extremely disrespectful and common-minded. This wasn’t just limited to Twitch. People were harassed about it. When people were on panels that weren’t just related to the hottest new video games, people searched them on Twitter and inundated their mentions.
It wasn’t just ESA either. Every large company that presented itself didn’t seem to understand or care about how to use Twitch chat. So it was just this overwhelming barrage of toxicity and negativity, and then, when people got an opportunity, sexism, racism, and ableism. It all showed. Chats had moderators in some cases, but they were moderated so easily that companies with more than 100,000 people couldn’t keep up.
John: It’s a problem because it’s irresponsible on the part of the E3 as well. They don’t care about this stuff at all. Otherwise, they would be making proactive changes in the industry. ESA would not just pick up and drop the flag every now and then. They would try to change something or do something. It’s just made as a veneer, and then they throw these people to the wolves.
For all of that and more, check out the episode. New episodes appear every Friday, so don’t forget to like and subscribe Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or stapler. If you feel like doing so, leave a review too, and you can always send us a message at [email protected] if you have any questions or suggest a topic. If you want to yell at us directly, you can reach us on Twitter: Ash is @adashtra, Fahey is @OnkelFahey, and Nathan is @ Vahn16. We meet next week!