With E3 2021 also skipping in-person activities, a virtual convention center has been made available for fans and media and it’s lacking in some seriously necessary offerings.
Everyone’s video-game Christmas is here once more, but this time around, things are going all digital due to lasting COVID-19 protocols. While last year’s festivities were cancelled entirely, the ESA has returned with an all-new format, and it sure is something to behold.
To start, let me say it is awesome that E3 is back at all and it’s clear there was an attempt made to make something cool. All of the pieces are there for this year’s E3 to be easier to manage—full of details and hands-on activities. Unfortunately, lacking booth spaces, missing information, and a lot of people asking “Why?!” has pretty much been the discourse since the process for this year’s event began.
While the presentations will largely be a return to what everyone missed last year, anyone looking to take part in more of the behind-the-scenes offerings are going to have a more confusing time. Due to a huge lack in developers and publishers having access to journalists for meetings, the convention center was created with “booth spaces” from major publishers in order for communication purposes.
Unfortunately, much of this booth space is left completely empty on most fronts. For example, Xbox and Nintendo are considered “Pinnacle” sponsors for E3 this year, meaning they are the largest sponsors this year. Xbox doesn’t have a booth at all. And Nintendo’s booth only shows what time their Direct is, with the products, media, and articles sections of their booth completely empty.
Moving to other publishers has some taking advantage, but it seems most are letting the web portal portion of E3 die while focusing on their own events and announcements, which makes sense. Oddly enough, some of what the ESA has done with their portal is interesting but feels out of touch. With quests, trophies, and daily leaderboards available without any information on how to use them, a gamified system has been created, but not completed.
Between the controversy of 2019 having sign-up information leaked by the ESA, revealing addresses and phone numbers for journalists around the world, and publishers seemingly leaving the event entirely to focus on their own needs, it seems E3 hasn’t done much to make up for its shortcomings, but hey, they have a super creepy avatar creator for the site, so that’s great.