Home Gaming Surprise! The biggest publishers in video games did just fine without E3 this year

Surprise! The biggest publishers in video games did just fine without E3 this year

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With no E3 this year, you might have wondered just how well the biggest players in the video game industry were going to do without a weeklong onslaught of gaming hype to give them free advertising. Turns out, that the long game of constant announcements over many weeks was just as effective! That’s the news according to market analysts Superdata, who detailed how fans still flocked to see regular announcements from the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Ubisoft.

“Major publishers like Blizzard and PlayStation have been putting on their own events, complete with big reveals, for years, principal analyst Carter Rogers wrote.

Fans and media pay attention to these announcements no matter where or when they happen, so it makes sense for them to control the message and avoid competing with hundreds of other announcements. It’s not unlike how Apple pulled out of CES in favor of their own events. In contrast, smaller companies with less buzz surrounding them benefit from the mainstream attention E3 brings to gaming.

Big, boisterous, industry events cause people to pay attention to announcements they otherwise might miss, and livestreams are not a perfect replacement.

According to Twitch viewership data, the majority of AAA game producers saw an increase in eyeballs and engagement, with Sony walking away as the winner with the “highest average minute audience”, trumping the likes of The Game Awards and Microsoft’s events in 2019. Ubisoft’s Forward showcase was also a big win, earning far more views than its E3 2019 press conference did (1.02 million vs 0.75 million per minute and a free copy of Watch Dogs 2 probably helped).

The only real casualty at the big boy streaming table this year was the PC Gaming Show, which saw a drop in viewers due to the audience believing that there wouldn’t be any headline-grabbing announcements during the publisher livestream singularity. The end result is proof that the biggest players don’t need E3 and will continue to do just fine as they control the message of their own products on their own terms, but it does leave smaller game producers at risk as events like E3 usually allow them to claim some attention during all the week-long craziness.

“Until big in-person gaming events return, the most successful small developers will be those who can form partnerships with platform holders and top publishers,” Rogers added.

This allows them to get their games in front of consumers when they are keeping an eye out for the biggest announcements. For example, the indie game Bugsnax from Young Horses generated buzz after its trailer debuted during the PlayStation 5 reveal. For companies that aren’t AAA publishers or associated with one, the current environment will limit their exposure to potential players and has shown just how valuable these gatherings can be.

Which kind of sounds like a medieval approach to future game show events with an online flavour: Smaller companies complementing the bigger chaps, creating super-states of announcements for games of all shape and size. Has a bit of a feudal touch to it, don’t you think?

Last Updated: July 31, 2020

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