#12: The greatest show on Earth

With not-E3 fast approaching — for clarity, it is only E3 if I am nursing a hangover in the Beverly Center branch of Uniqlo, pondering if I can really be bothered going to Ubisoft later — yesterday saw a chunk of game-industry Twitter posting their favourite photos from E3s past. I didn’t join in: most of my E3 photos are of receipts, attractive sandwiches, or of friends, colleagues and industry figures in varying states of disrepair at two in the morning. I can’t share those, because I value my relationships with these people too much. Besides, you never know when you might need to blackmail someone.

Not-E3 organiser the ESA is, famously, a little more loosey-goosey with this stuff. In 2019 it accidentally leaked the personal information of over 2,000 journalists and industry members. The following January, it did it again with a list of vendors and developers who’d signed up for that year’s show. You’d assume, therefore, that coming into E3 2021 it would have got its house properly in order. After more than a year working remotely under Covid, and this year’s show always likely to be held online, surely the ESA would have tightened up its digital operat— ah. Right. Well, maybe next year.

If there is a next year, anyway. The ESA’s stunning inability to transform itself from a company that puts on a large physical event to one that makes a functioning bloody website is yet more ammunition for the ongoing war against E3 itself. For years now, various members of the press, industry and pundit class have called E3 a relic that reflects poorly on the medium, and needs putting out of its misery. I have long argued against that, for all the ESA’s apparent efforts to undermine me.

I believe the global industry benefits hugely from everyone being in one place at the same time, networking, doing deals and getting generally energised about everything. It’s wonderful for players to have a sort of midsummer videogame Christmas to look forward to, and it helps greatly to have one week every year where games are so newsworthy that the mainstream media reports on them as well. And of course I personally benefit from a week away from the children in the California sun, doing work I am good at and enjoy, while catching up with old friends and making new ones.

If anything, the mess we’re seeing with not-E3 this year shows that E3 needs to come back, rather than die off. I am struggling to get too excited about a week-long schedule of platform-holder and publisher broadcasts, most of them starting at weird or inconvenient times, all of them no doubt running at least 20 minutes too long, and many of them organised by companies that seem determined to make them sound as boring as possible. The most popular headline format this week appears to be ‘That game you’re looking forward to won’t be at E3 this year, publisher says’.

A tightly packed schedule, like the E3s of old, forces companies to focus. To do their best work knowing that time is at a premium, ensuring their show is the one that everyone spends the rest of the week, and the year, talking about. I will take to my deathbed the memory of the Sony conference at E3 2015, when The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII Remake and Shenmue III all got unveiled within 20 minutes and the room just exploded. That, right there, is E3’s magic. You may not get it every year — and you almost certainly won’t get it this year — but it’s the reason it needs to continue, and the reason I will always go back.


  • Candy Crush maker King is being investigated by Paypal over its real-money webgame portal, Royal Games. Users haven’t been able to cash out their winnings since the feature was quietly turned off in January. This is likely a question of resources and priorities, rather than malice; here’s hoping Eurogamer’s investigation helps refocus King’s attention a little. 

  • “I don’t think the cross-gen development [of Horizon Forbidden West] was limiting in any way,” says game director Mathias De Jonge, who I’m sure will soon be on the phone to PS5’s lead system architect Mark Cerny to tell him he’s wrong.

  • Nvidia and Valve are collaborating on bringing the former’s DLSS technology to Linux, which may or may not have something to do with the latter’s rumoured Steam handheld

  • I adore fighting games and wish they were better at onboarding new players, so that more people may share in my love for them. Based on this, I’m not sure Guilty Gear Strive is going to be the game that does it. In a parallel universe, all fighting games model their tutorials on Skullgirls, and it’s the most popular genre on the planet. 

That’s it for today. I’m absolutely blown away by the response to this so far, which has exceeded even my wildest expectations. Please help me keep it going by giving this a share if you’ve enjoyed it, and a sub if you aren’t already signed up.