Geoff Keighley is not sure what E3 is anymore. Even before COVID forced the cancellation of the personalized version of the giant video game commercial disguised as an industry fair three years in a row now, the event was already a pale, big-three-publisher-less imitation of its former self.
E3 is coming back. The organizers said it in a very “for realsies this time, you guys” kind of way. But when I asked Keighley about the prospect that E3 and Summer Game Fest – affectionately known as Not-E3 or my personal favorite, Keigh-3 – would co-exist next year, he just did not seem convinced they should.
“E3 said they are coming back. Which I do not know what it means, do I? ” he told me about Summer Game Fest’s new personal component in Los Angeles. “So I do not know what that means.”
His skepticism is grounded. Last year, ESA said it would put on E3 2022 only to cancel not only the personal event (which was probably justified as a pandemic is still going on) but also the digital version.
And while the prospect of E3 getting into the airwaves ala a Thanos snap is an unwelcome thought for some, Keighley is happy to keep sticking to whether E3 is here to compete for people’s attention or ej.
“I do not know what E3 is,” he said matter-of-factly. “I think we need to define what E3 is before we can say whether it is competitive or not.”
“We are super happy with this experience,” he added. “And the publishers who are really our partners in this area also seem really happy about this. So we just keep doing what we do and scaling it up.”
Scale is important for recent events like the Summer Game Fest, and it’s something Keighley said he thinks about when considering his future in a post or even at the same time the E3 world. Play Days, the personal component of Keigh-3 open to media and influencers, was a small affair – too small, some argue, without the well-known presence of the big hits like Sony, Xbox or Nintendo. (Although Microsoft had a small presence through its id @ Xbox indie program and its Samsung smart TV app.)
Keighley acknowledged the criticism that Game Fest was not doing enough. “Some fans obviously wanted more announcements in the form of new games to announce, which is completely fair feedback,” he said. “But we can only show the games that are actually being made.”
While there were some notable big names present like Sonic borders and Street Fighter 6and the keynote itself had so many space shooters that it became a meme, Play Days chose to focus primarily on a smaller, eclectic selection of games from solo and indie developers that, in Keighley’s opinion, seemed almost more appealing than focusing solely on anything. comes from the big three.
“We have a lot of good indie games here because those are the guys who really need the exposure,” he said. “It is the magic of these events that we can put together.”
He’s right. There was something magical about having the opportunity to play a game I otherwise would not have had time for in a large, saturated room like E3 (I say presumably since I have never been to an E3 … yet). I loved the witches and creepy yet pleasant vibes Birth. A little to the left, which contains puzzles asking “how do these random objects fit together” immediately calmed my object association-obsessed brain. When I asked Keighley what games he liked, he picked up the fabulous one Time flies where you play as a fly tasked with fulfilling as many events on your bucket list as “get drunk” or “learn the guitar” as you can within your seconds long fly life. Games like them are buried at E3.
“I just love that we can have a diversity of content here,” Keighley said. “The discovery element is so important to these independent developers, and I’m proud that we can make indie games a part of the show.”
During The Game Awards last December, Keighley made a statement that “We should not and will not tolerate any abuse, harassment or exploitation by anyone, including our online communities.”
Although he did not name a specific company or developer, it was quite clear that the comment was referring to news about Activision Blizzard. That Overwatch the publisher was not present at that year’s Game Awards, but it showed up to show off Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II at Summer Game Fest. “I think the Activision situation has evolved,” he said, noting that “there is obviously a lot of work to be done.”
He said that he and his team are thinking about how to use their platform for good, and that is why they came up with statements about Ukraine, but that with Game Fest it is a difficult situation with a delicate balance, he should consider .
“How do we still allow the developers’ work to be recognized and be a part of these shows, while also thinking about that kind of zeitgeist, what’s going on with larger companies?”
While it is very possible (and perhaps easier than Keighley thinks) to do both, Keighley seems to think that Game Fest should only be about the games.
“I think Summer Game Fest is a little different from The Game Awards. The Game Awards is about recognizing industry expertise, an awards show, and Summer Game Fest is this promotional event for video games. So it’s on a different level.”
Despite Game Fest’s relatively small size, Keighley thinks it’s a success, something he hopes he can copy elsewhere. He tossed out places like London or Australia as opportunities he could take the event to as a way to “decentralize the old model of a trade or consumer fair,” as E3 is. And whether or not E3 really happens next year, Keighley is not at all bothered by the prospect of competing for eyeballs.
“I think that’s a different philosophy,” he said. “A bit like a Red Sea versus a Blue Sea strategy. Are you competing with your buddy in the water, or are you finding your own space? And I hope Play Days and Summer Game Fest have found their own space.”