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PlayStation’s Shawn Layden Explains Why Sony Dropped Out of E3 2019

Sony’s decision to drop out of the long-running E3 trade show this year was a result of the event’s loss of “impact” in recent years, SIE Worldwide Studios chairman and former SIE president and CEO Shawn Layden told CNET.

“When we decided to take video games out of CES, back in 1995 during the PlayStation 1 era, E3 served two constituencies,” says Layden in the extensive interview. “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.”

“Now we have an event in February called Destination PlayStation, where we bring all retailers and third-party partners to come hear the story for the year. They’re making purchasing discussions in February. June, now, is just too late to have a Christmas holiday discussion with retailers. So retail has really dropped off. And journalists now, with the internet and the fact that 24/7 there is game news, it’s lost its impact around that.”

“So the trade show became a trade show without a lot of trade activity. The world has changed, but E3 hasn’t necessarily changed with it.”

Late last year, Sony announced it would not be holding its annual press conference or make any appearance at all to E3 2019.

“As the industry evolves, Sony Interactive Entertainment continues to look for inventive opportunities to engage the community,” Sony told Variety at the time. “PlayStation fans mean the world to us and we always want to innovate, think differently and experiment with new ways to delight gamers. As a result, we have decided not to participate in E3 in 2019. We are exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019 and can’t wait to share our plans with you.”

The Entertainment Software Association, the board of which includes PlayStation, remains optimistic about its trade show, however.

E3 2018 broke records, and we sold out of both exhibit space and attendee badges,” said Stanley Pierre-Louis, interim CEO of ESA. “We are confident that, through the continued creative innovations delivered by our participating member companies, E3 2019 will deliver the same kind of excitement and energy. This year, we’re looking forward to expanding E3 beyond the walls of the LACC and connecting gamers and attendees with incredible video game content throughout the entire LA Live complex.”

Layden is kicking off this year’s Dice Summit in Las Vegas with an opening keynote.

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