E3 2019 Retrospective
Going to E3 – or any major gaming event is like this. You spend months researching and listening for teasers and news from your favorite studios about what’s going to happen that year. You talk to friends and make predictions about what to expect from the biggest players in the space. You spend so much time looking forward to the week and then, once the event starts, you drink from the proverbial fire hose and go home. It’s a lot to digest. And it’s easy to get lost in all the “by the numbers” news that gets published post-mortem. Now, with a little time (and hindsight) to soak in the experience, we thought we’d share what has stayed with us from this year’s E3, and why it matters for anybody interested in immersive tech.
In all the “by the numbers” news, there were fewer attendees versus last year. While Sony, EA and Activision opted out of the show this year, there were still a lot amazing experiences and surprise guests who participated, starting with Keanu Reeves at the Microsoft Theater on media day, who announced Cyberpunk 77’s upcoming launch in April 2020 in which he’ll be playing “legendary rockerboy” and “Johnny Silverhand.”
Regardless of attendance, thought leadership topics were varied, relevant and interesting. Across from the Microsoft Theater, The Novo Theater hosted the E3 Coliseum, where a number of fantastic talks were held throughout the 3-day event. Highlights included former NFL wide receiver and current FIFA gamer, Chad Ochocinco and Boiboi (Marcus Avery,) announcing the creation of the “Verizon 5G NFL Mobile Gaming Challenge.” Developers can submit proposals for new games that leverage Verizon 5G networks specifically for mobile gaming. Two developers will win $400k in seed money and work with Verizon 5G labs to create a mobile title that launches during Super Bowl LIV in Miami in front of a live audience.
Overall, the mix of entertainers, gamers and futurists was pretty impressive this year – from Jack Black announcing the latest from the Psychonauts to the creators and devs of the “Stranger Things 3” game (launching with the show on July 4th) to Elon Musk at the Coliseum talking about the future of…everything, all of these amazing experiences were on deck even before attendees entered the Los Angeles Convention Center (LACC).
Once inside the LACC, game devs, publishers, equipment manufacturers hosted product demos, onsite tournaments (Ubisoft’s “Devs v. Creators” was a lot of fun to watch), launched a ton of new titles and of course, provided the opportunity to play all day.
Finally, on day 3 of the show, we had an amazing opportunity to participate in the MemBrain “Storm Shelter,” on the future of esports and gaming. It was a fantastic way to cap off the week. Together with our co-panelists and attendees who ran the gamut from esports execs to gamers, to developers and other creative technologists, the attendees at SoHo house had great questions that drove engaging conversations about immersive audio, the promise for 5G and so much more. It was like the perfect way to close out a week of inspiration and immersive experiences.
From a 30,000-foot view, the main takeaway is that the conditions are being created to support increasingly realistic, immersive experiences across the industry. The device a game is played on matters less and less. With 5G rolling out in the US, portability of experience becomes something game developers are planning for from the very beginning of a project and tools are being created in real time to leverage the additional speed and bandwidth.
With so many content delivery platforms and edge devices to play on, the better the immersion, the higher the engagement, the better the game. Immersion isn’t just a “nice to have,” effect – it’s helping to usher in the next generation of gaming experiences for everyone, on smartphones, gaming consoles and PCs. Attendance may have been down, but it’s clearly still a really exciting time to see how immersive experiences emerging, evolving and changing the gaming experience.