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Has the internet ruined e3?

Joe Merrick

I remember my first E3. I wasn't there, of course. I was only 12 years old at the time and I doubt an unattended child would be allowed in. No, I read about it in a N64 magazine weeks after the event itself. I'd never heard of E3 beforehand but I quickly gathered that it was where new games were announced, and games journalists and trade folk would get their hands on upcoming releases to see how they were shaping up.

This first E3 I read about was a big one, at least for me. I was an N64 kid, but I was unaware of any software drought because it just seemed like I had so much to look forward to; Perfect Dark, Jet Force GeminiDonkey Kong 64 and murmurings of a remixed Ocarina of Time were enough to keep me excited for quite some time.

I think if that year's E3 was experienced like E3 2018 was, I'd be disappointed. Instead of waiting a few weeks and reading a feature put together by someone who was there, collecting their thoughts together for the page, I'd experience it all live myself on youtube. And I'd probably shrug and go "huh, is that it?"

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For ages, gamers around the world wanted to get the chance to goto E3. It sounded like the coolest games event on the planet, after all; a week where you get to play games that nobody else has touched. But slowly, over time, we've all been exposed to E3 in every single minute detail, and I think we should have all been careful what we wished for.

Instead of reading about Sony's software line-up and salivating over screenshots, we get extended gameplay of their four main titles and somehow it's boring.

Instead of a magazine spread excitedly listing every one of the 64+ characters in Smash Bros. Ultimate, twitter was full of folk who wished Nintendo would show some Metroid footage instead.

I don't really know what I'm trying to say here. I don't think it's a case of people being awful and ruining E3 for themselves. I'm not that cynical. I think it's more a case of over-exposure. Because everything is experienced in the moment these days, it's disappointing when the dopamine fix of brand new announcements and exclusive reveals dries up.

It makes sense really. It's unsustainable to keep making "megaton" announcement after another, and when that does happen it results in very little substance for years to come; just look at Final Fantasy VII Remake, Kingdom Hearts, Shenmue 3 and The Last Guardian, all announced well before they should have been. At least The Last Guardian has proven that a masterpiece can come, eventually.

What's the solution? Maybe a smaller E3 next year, with less emphasis on letting folk at home experience the show live. Let the attendees play the games and write-up their thoughts. Release a few trailers to whet the public's appetite.

But who am I kidding? Next year will be even bigger and more disappointing, and I'll just be an old guy yelling at a cloud.

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