Since its inception, the Electronic Entertainment Experience (or E3 expo) has been the number one hotspot for fans and gaming journalists alike to get a sneak peak at the biggest and most anticipated titles to come to the gaming world. As of late, however, the once celebrated video game and tech expo has been against the ropes, fighting the wavering reality of its relevance amid a changing landscape that saw the announcement of the PlayStation 5 in an interview with Wired magazine. In 2019, the expo was rocked by Sony’s withdrawal from the convention and before that, faced increased criticism for “over hyping” titles that would ultimately bust (i.e. Anthem).
After cancelling last year’s E3 due to the pandemic, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) thought to revamp the expo from the ground up to better suit the times and make the conferences more accessible to all. At the first ever E3, around 50,000 people attended but compared to 2019’s 66,000 numbered audience, the growth seems to be stunted. 2021 should have been the year the expo took in the many changes that have since occurred in the industry and beyond to deliver a redemptive experience, one that would have detractors reexamine their harsh criticisms of the convention. Sadly, Media Week proved that there are still many, many strides to be had.
Media Week was supposed to be the week for journalists before the conferences officially kicked off for E3 to, according to the ESA, “access all the participating exhibitor booth content before the general public, which will allow them to engage with exhibitors early.” While those engagements weren’t fully described in detail, the functionality of the portal, or lack thereof, quickly made the rounds on Twitter.
The hopes, and hype, for Media Week were there but the reality of what journalists came in contact with was disheartening. The messaging feature did little to indicate whether your message made it to a given exhibitor, and the “Drop Business Card” option only highlighted the abyss into which loads of our information went. For a conference whose past includes a massive data leak, the portal’s precautions did not immediately illustrate which, if any, lessons were learned from the leak.
From the bizarre avatar creator, to the dated Battlefield default wallpaper each profile is fitted with, E3’s Media Week yielded little results for fledgling journalists like myself who are joining the expo for the first time ever. The real hope, however, is that next week’s press conferences show us maybe E3 isn’t all that bad.