One of the biggest news over the past few months was that Sony has decided to drop out of E3 for 2019. No one really saw it coming and naturally, questions were raised as to the reason why Sony, who has been a part of E3 since the beginning, chose to not participate this year.
In a recent interview with CNET, Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios chairman Shawn Layden helped to shed some light on Sony’s decision to skip E3 this year.
According to Layden, during the times of Sony’s PlayStation 1, before the internet exploded, E3 helped to serve both retailers and journalists.
“Retailers would come in — you’d see a guy come in, and he’d say, “I’m from Sears, and I handle Hot Wheels, Barbie, VHS and video games. So what are you about?” There was a huge educational component. Then you had journalists who had magazines and lead time and jockeying for position on the cover. And there was no internet to speak of. So a trade show at that time of year for this nascent industry was exactly what we needed to do.”
However, Layden explains, now Sony has its own trade show in February, Destination PlayStation, which helps to inform retailers of the platform holder’s plans for the year. So retailers are able to make their purchase decisions early on in the year, and need not wait till June. As for gaming news, the internet has inevitably lessened the impact of reporting from E3, with the internet being around 24/7.
Hence, E3 has essentially become “a trade show without a lot of trade activity”. The world has evolved but E3 has yet to catch up.
Layden then went on to elaborate on ways E3 can change to continue being relevant, “Can E3 transition more into a fan festival of gaming, where we don’t gather there to drop the new bomb? Can’t it just be a celebration of games and have panels where we bring game developers closer to fans?” In other words, E3 should probably evolve to be akin to a Comic-Con of the gaming industry.
In the interview, Layden also discussed Sony’s plan to focus on fewer, but bigger, game projects. “I think we’ve done a lot over the last three or four years to get us to a place right now where we’re building fewer games per year than ever before, but we’re spending more time, more energy, certainly more money, on making them,” Layden states.
It seems this decision is especially important, especially when a seemingly small misstep can eventually spell disappointing sales for your game titles.
When Sony first announced that it would not be participating in E3 2019, they stated that they will instead be “exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019.” Which leads us to wonder what other exciting news will we be hearing from them this year. A PlayStation 5 maybe?