Last year Sony surprised many fans when they announced that they would be skipping E3 2019. However, it was a decision that made sense, especially considering the lifecycle of the current generation of consoles is drawing to an end. Sony didn’t have enough new games (or basically any news) to share during the event.
This year Sony has once again caught fans off guard by announcing that they will be skipping E3 2020 too. This is might come as a huge shock to fans, especially since it is wholly expected that Sony will be officially showcasing the PS5 console later this year.
The company told GameIndustry.biz that they will not be attending the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which is scheduled to run from the 9th to the 11th of June. “After thorough evaluation SIE has decided not to participate in E3 2020,” Sony said. “We have great respect for the ESA as an organisation, but we do not feel the vision of E3 2020 is the right venue for what we are focused on this year.”
Over the years E3 has always been considered the premier gaming event for announcing new games and, more importantly, new consoles. However, recently we’ve seen Nintendo opting to move to their Nintendo Direct briefings, which have been embraced by the fans. Sony has started to emulate this format with their own State of Play briefings with varied success. Even Microsoft chose the 2019 Game Awards as their event of choice for revealing the Xbox Series X.
Having their own dedicated event would also allow Sony to decide when best to reveal more about their console. This is especially important when it comes to pricing as the success of the PS4 was in part due to Sony announcing that the console would be cheaper than the Xbox One.
In theory, they could wait for Microsoft to reveal the Xbox Series X’s price at E3 2020 and then undercut it when they reveal the PS5 price at a later date. It’s all about the timing. Not to mention that floor space at E3 comes at a price and this gives Sony the power to decide how to allocate its budget and when best to spend all that PlayStation money.
While the details behind Sony’s move might not be clear, what is clear is that Sony is taking a new approach to how it will be handling its announcements in the future.
As mentioned, Nintendo has had loads of success with their Nintendo Direct briefings which proved that you don’t need to make all your announcements on a big brightly lit stage and that fans actually appreciate the more intimate format. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Sony won’t make a big splash when showcasing their next generation of console. However, by deciding the date, time and place that best suits them, Sony will be able to focus the attention on their new console and upcoming games without the distraction from the noise generated by announcements from other publishers or even Microsoft.
One juicy tidbit I heard last year was that Sony’s main reason for skipping E3 was disagreement/tension/conflict with the ESA, which is likely the driving factor here as well.
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) January 13, 2020
It’s easy to forget that Sony already successfully did this when it held an event back in 2013 and revealed the PS4. It is expected, but not confirmed, that Sony might be doing something similar for the PS5.
That said, this does raise one interesting question; will Microsoft follow suit? Shortly after the announcement that Sony will be skipping E3 2020 Microsoft’s Phil Spencer confirmed that Microsoft will have a presence at E3 2020.
Our team is hard at work on E3, we look forward to sharing with all who love to play what’s ahead for us. Our artform has consistently been propelled by the cross-section of creativity and technical progress. 2020 is a milestone year in that journey for Team Xbox. #XboxE3 #E32020
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) January 14, 2020
With Microsoft’s console already being revealed at the Game Awards 2019, it’s likely that Microsoft will showcase the Xbox Series X by showing off some of the games that will be releasing for the platform.
However, it has been revealed that Microsoft’s new console won’t have any first-party exclusives, at least for the first two years. Sony, on the other hand, is suspected to have a few first-party exclusives up their sleeve and ready to be announced for the PS5, which would most probably form part of the PS5 showcase.
Whether you agree or not, it is clear that E3’s popularity has been waning over the past few years. It was just a matter of time before someone like Sony realised that they have enough of a fanbase to hold their own PlayStation focused events. What remains to be seen is how this will affect the future of E3 an how the event will have to evolve in order to survive the departure of companies such as Sony and Nintendo.