The ESA Responds to Sony's Decision to Skip E3 2020 in a Very ESA Way
After Sony revealed that it will again skip E3 for the second year in a row, the ESA responded to PlayStation's absence...sort of.
While we’re only a few weeks into 2020, arguably one of the biggest pieces of news to drop in the new year was the confirmation that PlayStation would again be skipping E3 for the second consecutive year. Given that Sony pulling out of last year’s E3 was already a huge surprise, seeing the company decide to pull out of E3 again this year, especially with a new console and major exclusives on the horizon, prompted a response from the Entertainment Software Association, who organizes and runs E3. Well, a “response” in a loose sense of the term.
On the ESA’s official website, the organization provided a statement directly on the matter of Sony announcing that it would not be attending E3 2020. You can read the full statement below:
“E3 is a signature event celebrating the video game industry and showcasing the people, brands and innovations redefining entertainment loved by billions of people around the world. E3 2020 will be an exciting, high-energy show featuring new experiences, partners, exhibitor spaces, activations, and programming that will entertain new and veteran attendees alike. Exhibitor interest in our new activations is gaining the attention of brands that view E3 as a key opportunity to connect with video game fans worldwide.”
With the brevity of the statement itself, the whole response by the ESA is a bit odd at first glance, especially given that the organization doesn’t directly address Sony itself in the phrasing. Instead, the organization chose to focus on highlighting “new experiences, partners, exhibitor spaces, activations, and programming” as key features that attendees can expect to see at E3 2020.
Of course, this highlights the fact that this past year especially has seen the ESA in a precarious position with E3, which has been its flagship operation for several decades in the games industry. With several high profile companies and publishes like EA, Sony, and others having pulled their presence at the show in favor of off-site events or digital presentations, the ESA has gradually been trying to adjust E3 to remain relevant. This has become increasingly difficult in the past few years, but the ESA has steadily been shifting the convention away from its traditional trade and press focus towards adopting more fan and consumer-friendly experiences.
Sony’s reason for exiting the show–that E3’s 2020 “vision” wasn’t suitable for their needs–especially seems like a direct jab at the ways that the show has struggled to hold on to the higher-profile attendees showcasing games, let alone last year’s controversy around the doxxing of attending journalists that will likely impact its news outreach this year. However, 2020 has seemed like a crucial year for the organization and E3 as a whole with the upcoming launch of the next-generation consoles, and the statement’s focus appears to highlight how the ESA is turning more towards consumers and fans to keep E3 as a key presence for gaming, even with the loss (again) of a high-profile attendee and big draw like Sony.