So- earlier this week, we received news that neither Sony nor Microsoft would beholding any conferences at Gamescom this year. Instead, Microsoft would be holding a smaller, ‘more intimate’ event for fans, while Sony will presumably be attending Paris Games Week, and later, holding this year’s PlayStation Experience.
Understandably enough, a lot of people are disappointed at this development of events- with Nintendo never holding press events at Gamescom at all, this means that none of the console manufacturers are going to be having any major announcements at the event. This also means that we have to wait longer to get new news and announcements, and, slightly worryingly, it also implies that none of the console manufacturers necessarily take the European market seriously enough to attend its premier event.
But all of that is missing the forest for the trees- Gamescom has never been equivalent to E3 in terms of stature or importance, and Microsoft and Sony’s track record of attending the event has been spotty at best. Consider that Sony did not host a presser at Gamescom last year either, for example. Consider also that not attending Gamescom does not necessarily mean not attending Paris Games Week, which is starting to rival Gamescom in terms of its importance.
But all of this discussion misses the crucial underlying point, which is that grand press conferences at physical events are no longer as important now as they used to be- Nintendo foresaw this years ago, and started to shift to their Nintendo Direct format, and over time, others have followed in their vein. This year, Square Enix, Nintendo, and EA all opted for decentralized digital ‘events’ for E3, for instance.
So press conferences in general seem to be losing importance worldwide, as we move into a digital age, and they are fast becoming bygone relics of an era when magazines used to be the primary source of delivering news to people- instead of relying on annual events to disseminate news, one can have a constant stream of announcements all year round, now. This is not commentary on any market becoming weaker – how many articles do you read every year of the impending ‘death of E3?’ That does not imply that the American gaming market is dying – but rather, it is a reflection of a changing market, and its players evolving to a changing market.
All of which is to say, don’t despair about Sony and Microsoft not being at Gamescom. If you attend the event, you’ll get to play their games on the showfloor anyway. And if you care more about tuning into the conferences for new announcements, well, chances are you’ll be seeing all those announcements and demonstrations in the coming months over the internet anyway. And if you don’t- well, all that means is that Microsoft and Sony never had anything new to show in the first place, and we were all just spared what would otherwise have been two very disappointing pressers.