The future of big gaming industry-focused announcement events might be short-lived as we see more companies take announcements into their own hands as opposed to relying on these events to unveil their next big thing.
The recent cancellation of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is a pretty big deal not only in the games industry but in the events industry as well. This year’s event was set to be the first in-person event since its rocky schedule due to the pandemic causing the 2019 show to be cancelled, the 2021 show being digital-only, and the 2022 show also being cancelled. It could have been a triumphant return for the event until almost every major publisher began to cancel their appearance at the show.
First, Xbox announced they’d be a no-show, followed swiftly by Nintendo and Sony (though Sony has been out of E3 for some time now), this caused an avalanche of both major and indie publishers and developers to also cancel their appearances at the event.
The reason for this? Since E3’s instability left a big gap for the usual mid-year torrent of game announcements, publishers took matters into their own hands hosting their events, both digitally and in-person, most seeing similar if not better responses from fans at these briefings.
This marks a pretty interesting development in the future of industry events like E3, IFA, and even CES, as more and more companies are realising that they’re not only perfectly capable but also successfully hosting their independent events. But why should you consider this for your upcoming product announcements? And is it worth it in the long run? Here’s what you should consider:
Leveraging events to tap into the right audience
While you may not be attending the big industry event, that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage it to tap into the right audience. Think of it as a form of guerrilla marketing where you almost hijack the event for your gain – one example that always comes to mind is Devolver Digital who often held an “Anti E3” event… in the parking lot of the Los Angeles Convention Center… during E3.
This not only made a splash because Devolver was once again showing it was still the disruptive kid at the back of the class but also the simplicity of just pitching a tent outside of the biggest gaming event and seeing similar footfall for what was probably a fraction of the cost of hiring a booth inside the convention centre was pure genius!
Adding to this, Geoff Keighley’s Summer Games Fest has taken the reigns that E3 has left behind this year offering a similar, albeit smaller, event for gaming fans.
When holding your own announcement event, whether that’s an intimate in-person event or a digital live stream, you’re in control of the budgets which is perfect for indie developers and smaller publishers. Rather than planning around the costs set around hiring booths at E3 or Gamescom, or EGX for that matter, you’ll be able to plan around what suits you and your needs for your announcement.
You’ll also be able to leverage what’s already available to you for the briefing. You’ll likely have a computer capable of live streaming onto Twitch, YouTube, or even Instagram and TikTok, and you most likely have an Internet connection, so you’re already half prepared.
More control over the media cycle
By holding your announcement outside of an event where hundreds of other companies are announcing products, or even outside of world events, you’ll be able to grab the ear of journalists and publications who may have otherwise been focused on other stories and hopefully secure some great coverage! Essentially, you’ll be able to own the narrative.
With your own event, you’re likely not limited to space, so you can let your creativity also become a bigger part of your own event and possibly do things you wouldn’t have been able to do during a showcase like E3.
Nintendo has always managed to do this incredibly well with their regular Nintendo Direct broadcasts also proving that you don’t necessarily have to be at the mercy of big event organisers to get the attention of consumers.
While being in control of all of the above is a massive win, another fantastic part of hosting your own announcement event or briefing is being able to involve existing fans of your games and provide a way for you to develop this relationship beyond the typical social media posts or chaos of a Discord channel.
Take a look back at Jagex’s previous Runefest events. These were not only a way for the company to unveil plans for the future of Runescape, but also to celebrate fans’ love for the game with various festivities that fans themselves could get involved in.
To wrap up, while big industry events aren’t going away any time soon, the bump in the road that caused many of these events to be postponed or cancelled indefinitely during 2019 and 2021 left companies with no choice but to find a way to get their new products to consumers. In turn, this has created a new wave of digitally-driven and self-hosted events that have become viable opportunities for everyone in the games industry, from indie developers to larger publishers.
If you need a helping hand planning or executing an event or briefing, get in touch with Gallium Ventures and we’d be happy to discuss options!