And so E3 2017 is wrapping up...
Some gamers are left excited for upcoming releases, while others are disappointed their favourite franchise failed to make an appearance. There are debates regarding who "won" the show, and which moments will live on in the industry's memory — for positive reasons or not!
Regardless of your opinion of this year's announcements, however, there is always one question that pops up following the show: Is the fundamental concept of E3, a big conference where companies go on stage and let the world know what they've been working on over the past year, an outdated one? How relevant is E3 in 2017?
Does E3 Still Fulfil Its Original Purpose?
As a tool for media publicity
When E3 was established in 1995, it was a significant milestone for the gaming industry. Previously, video game shows were a small section of a larger convention, and industry professionals such as Sega's Tom Kalinske recall being frustrated by the lack of respect gaming received.
E3 was a way for the industry to prove it was important enough to hold its own event, and it was a huge success from the start. It increased visibility, encouraged media coverage, and highlighted gaming as an exciting pastime that was continuously improving and gaining popularity.
Fast-forward to 2017 and it's clear the industry no longer has any issue gaining media attention. The release of the Wii, and more recently the phenomenon of Pokémon Go catapulted gaming into the mainstream, and did more for the widespread appreciation of our hobby than any E3 conference could.
As a source of information for gamers
E3 wasn't created solely for increased media coverage however. Perhaps more importantly, it's a source of information for gamers.
In 1995, E3 was the best way to present this information; internet adoption rates were still low and the majority of gamers would get their information through magazines. A major event at which journalists can see all the biggest developers show off their games in one place was perfect in a pre-digital age.
Today, the way we consume media has changed significantly. Information on upcoming titles is increasingly presented at smaller events throughout the year, such as Nintendo's Directs. Digitisation has also increased the prevalence of leaks which play a role in minimising the impact of big E3 reveals.
E3 is not the safest platform to reveal your game
Furthermore, presentation styles have improved considerably in the past decades, while E3 has remained mostly the same. There are always risks of things going wrong — this year the Sony stream lost sound during Uncharted: The Lost Legacy's trailer, and EA's YouTuber guest unveiling a new Need for Speed title forgot his lines.
While this is sometimes entertaining for viewers, it can be devastating for the companies and developers who need their reveal to go flawlessly in an increasingly competitive market. Games cost more money than ever to develop, so if "bloopers" keep occurring at E3, developers might consider changing the way they reveal games to protect their investment.
Famously, the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword E3 live demo mishap has been cited as a major reason for Nintendo moving toward prerecorded videos. Other companies may follow as they seek to maximise control over the way their games are presented.
The Opposing Argument: E3 Remains Relevant!
This may be a surprising opinion, but I believe that E3 remains as important as ever for the industry.
The presentation style of E3 may be archaic and not the most efficient way to present new information to either the press or gamers. There may be things that go wrong, and developers who have to deal with the fallout.
No other convention can replicate the same amount of hype and excitement that E3 generates every year. People spend hours formulating rumours, creating "bingo cards" and drinking games as part of the experience of watching E3 alone or with friends.
The show gains more viewers every year. Perhaps gaming has already reached the mainstream, but that doesn't mean it isn't important for the industry to remind the rest of the world just how popular it is.
2017 is the first year where the show floor was open to the public, and it was busier than ever before! Thousands of people flooded the convention hall and queued for hours for a mere glimpse of upcoming blockbusters such as Super Mario Odyssey.
The Charm of E3
It may not be perfect, but that's part of the charm. Every year we complain about certain games not being shown, or there being too much talking, or too many pre-recorded trailers... but we only complain because we care.
Deep down we will watch E3 annually, because we love what it represents: Gamers who are fans of every system, every developer, coming together to discuss, debate, and joke around with each other while watching the greatest show of the year for the greatest industry in the world.
Gaming is a social hobby, and nothing demonstrates this better than the atmosphere surrounding E3 on message boards all over the internet. It encourages discussion like no other. This editorial is just one example of media created that would not exist without the show, and this is the true "purpose" of E3 in the modern age.
I wouldn't want it any other way.