Microsoft remains committed to E3, even after Sony’s announcement that it’s not showing up in 2019, and Xbox head Phil Spencer recently took a few moments to explain why during an Extra Life charity livestream.
“I’m old enough to remember E3 was about retailers coming and trying to figure out how many cartridges they were gonna buy for the holiday,” he said (you can see his comments around the 4h:48m mark). “And this was back when things would sell out. So, they would go to E3 and they would try to figure out what the hit games were, and we’re all there trying to show our games so they would up their purchase quantities and we’d know how many cartridges to build, discs, whatever it was. Then, all of a sudden, retailers wanted the press there, because they wanted to see what the press was writing about. Because they kinda trusted the press’ instincts, which made sense, on what games are going to be hot. So then E3 went from a retail show to more of a press and retail show.”
“Now I’d say most of our efforts, and the reason why we like E3 the way we do — because we could do this on our own or direct — we just think it’s an awesome and, frankly, convenient way for the fans to experience video games. I think we do it because it’s a U.S. celebration in L.A. where it’s easier for people in the U.S. to come to one place and just share their love of video games.”
E3 opened its doors to the public for the first time in 2017, and Spencer said he hopes it will continue to grow “I think it’s gotta change in some ways,”he said. “But, I look at all these events like XO, E3, the FanFest that we do at Gamescom … We can reach retailers, we can reach press in so many different ways…”
At this point in the stream, Spencer is distracted by the game he’s playing, but his point seems pretty clear. While there are many avenues available to reach retailers and the press, shows like E3 remain a great way to engage with the gaming community.
While Sony said it’s not attending E3 2019, it’s exploring “new and familiar ways to engage our community.” This is the first time in 24 years PlayStation won’t have a booth on the show floor. E3 is also the second major event Sony has cancelled recently. It cancelled this year’s PlayStation Experience event, citing a lack of games to show.