Since opening to the public, E3 has served as a Christmas in June for any fan of video games. It was the time of year where going all out was the standard. Few companies dared to make their biggest announcements outside of the convention halls. Even Nintendo conformed. With COVID’s impact on the world, a big physical event wasn’t possible. Geoff Keighley, founder of the Video Game Awards, has pushed the industry forward for at least a decade. When all hope seemed lost, he promised that E3 would be replaced in spirit.
Summer Game Fest is a banner for all sorts of developers to host their digital events under. Phase 1 began in May and ends in August. Of course, development has been impacted and games can’t release as planned. It makes sense to spread everything out! So what if we don’t get hit back to back in a weekend? It’s all coming eventually, right? Unfortunately, most of gaming’s bigger names have skipped out on Summer Game Fest. With the exception of Sony and Microsoft, who are currently launching consoles, the biggest have gone radio silent. When’s the last time Nintendo held a big event? Square-Enix? 2K?
At the beginning, there was a flood of live events. It was incredibly hard to keep up with everything. Now, there are only small events and they’re spread out by weeks. There’s no build-up or excitement. Personally, I think Summer Game Fest should’ve worked on a set schedule. A live show every week or bi-weekly would’ve been a life-saver in a time of uncertainty! Instead, we have the corpse of gaming’s biggest day, spread out over months of silence.
There’s a rather large elephant in the room. Most big shows under the Summer Game Fest banner have been treated rather harshly by the community. Ubisoft Forward and EA Play were received particularly poorly. The announcements aren’t everything. Personally, I think the meat of Summer Game Fest is the developer interviews and insights we get. To announce Cuphead coming to PS4, Geoff did a fifteen-minute interview with StudioMDHR. This small stream might’ve been the best yet, and I wish we got more like it! You’ll always get pushback and naysayers, but I’d rather in-depth interviews than silence.
From my perspective, it’s incredibly obvious to see how much effort Geoff, his team, and every developer has put into making this event happen. These things don’t happen overnight, but somehow, this one did. In times where communication and development is the hardest it has ever been, an event was thrown together in hours to simply make things better for the fans. It’s incredibly obvious when you’re watching someone fly by the seat of their pants, but I think it’s about time this was put back in order. I have no doubt there are a few last aces, but I worry nobody will care when we’re finally upon them.