Geoff Keighley isn’t sure what E3 is anymore. Even before COVID forced the cancellation of the in-person version of the giant video game commercial masquerading as an industry trade show three years running now, the event was already a pale, big-three-publisher-less imitation of its former self.
E3 is coming back. The organizers said so in a very “for realsies this time, you guys” kind of way. But when I asked Keighley about the prospect of E3 and Summer Game Fest — affectionately known as Not-E3 or, my personal favorite, Keigh-3 — coexisting next year, he just didn’t seem convinced they would need to.
“E3 said they’re coming back. Which I don’t know what that means, right?” he told me at Summer Game Fest’s new in-person component in Los Angeles. “ So, I don’t know what that means.”
His skepticism is founded. Last year, the ESA said it would put on E3 2022 only to cancel not only the in-person event (which was probably warranted given that a pandemic is still going on) but the digital version as well.
And while the prospect of E3 poofing into the ether ala a Thanos snap is an unwelcome thought for some, Keighley’s content to keep on keeping on whether E3 is around to compete for folks’ attention or not.
“I don’t know what E3 is,” he said matter-of-factly. “I think we got to define what E3 is before we can say if it’s competitive or not.”
“We’re super happy with this experience,” he added. “And the publishers who are really our partners on this seem really happy with this as well. So we’re just gonna kind of keep doing what we’re doing and scaling it up.”
Scale is important for newer events like Summer Game Fest, and it’s something Keighley said he’s thinking about when pondering its future in a post or even concurrent E3 world. Play Days, the in-person component of Keigh-3 open to media and influencers, was a small affair — too small, some argue, without the familiar presence of the big hitters like Sony, Xbox, or Nintendo. (Though Microsoft did have a small presence through its id@Xbox indie program and its Samsung smart TV app.)
Keighley acknowledged the critique that Game Fest didn’t do enough. “Some fans obviously wanted more announcements in terms of new games to announce, which is totally fair feedback,” he said. “But we can only display the games that are actually being made.”