I have never been to E3 before. Even though I’ve written for various publications since around 2001, my involvement with the landmark gaming show was always as part of a “home team”. I’m not salty about it; I always really enjoyed covering E3 remotely while working with the awesome team at N-Sider, but I was also very aware that I was missing out on the sheer spectacle of it all.
Well, finally, after some 15 years of writing about games on-and-off, I actually attended E3 this year, proudly waving the SUPERJUMP banner.
What a year I chose as my initiation! E3 2017 marks the first time that the event is open to the general public, and the crowds are insane. This piece by Polygon sums up the situation really well, I think. Apparently 15,000 tickets were sold for this year’s event.
On the one hand, it was truly awesome that the general public were able to attend. This was a great opportunity for video game companies to speak directly to the very people who might be buying their games, and to invite those people in for hands-on time with upcoming releases.
That said, the crowds were so big that the lines to play many games — in some cases, to enter the booths themselves — were incredibly long. I stood in line to play Sonic Forces on PS4. It took somewhere between 45–50 minutes to actually get into SEGA’s booth to play the demo, and that was absolutely one of the shorter lines. Games like Destiny 2 had massive wait times, despite there being numerous stations to play on. And the Nintendo booth, well…
From a media point of view, it wasn’t so bad; sensible media types had made their appointments well in advance and so our times with various games were scheduled (in my case, the only booking I had was with Nintendo — so, I joined the queue along with everyone else for SEGA).
I can’t help but feel a little sorry for E3 expo pass holders who paid the full $249USD for three day access (you can also buy a three day on-site pass for a whopping $995USD). Yes, they will have been able to wander around and see the spectacle (and it is rather incredible), but if you are interested in going hands-on with games — especially the big names — you’re going to find yourself spending hours in line over the three days.
The clever and well-prepared expo attendees at least brought their handhelds (I saw a lot of Switch and 3DS players floating around) to ease the pain.
As mentioned above, I did spend a good deal of time with Nintendo playing a handful of titles. Over the coming days, I’ll post my initial impressions, so please stay tuned.
P.S. By the way, total aside: Sonic Forces doesn’t look to be a total trash fire based on my time with it today, which is rather pleasing. More on that later.
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