Sony’s Shawn Layden Further Explains Decision to Skip E3 2019, Says the Show Has Lost Relevancy
Shawn Layden has given new statements about Sony's decision to miss E3 2019 and said that the company wouldn't have had anything to announce come June.
One of the biggest bombshell pieces of news from the past few months came when Sony announced that it would be skipping out on attending E3 2019. It was a decision that nearly no one expected and also raised a lot of other questions about the reasons why Sony would miss out on the show.
Now, in a new conversation with CNet, Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios head Shawn Layden has further explained why he and the team at PlayStation felt it was necessary to skip E3 2019. Layden said that when E3 first began back in 1995, the trade show was mainly centered around retailers and journalists. Retailers would come to the show looking to put new gaming products in their stores while journalists would report to their audiences the new games and tech that they saw. “And there was no internet to speak of. So a trade show at that time of year for this nascent industry was exactly what we needed to do,” Layden said.
As E3 is now though, it has become less focused on pitching products to retailers which was once one of the core tenants of the show. Additionally, the June date in which E3 takes place annually is too late in the year to sell retailers on products anyway. “Now we have an event in February called Destination PlayStation, where we bring all retailers and third-party partners to come hear the story for the year,” Layden described. “They’re making purchasing discussions in February. June, now, is just too late to have a Christmas holiday discussion with retailers. So retail has really dropped off. And journalists now, with the internet and the fact that 24/7 there is game news, it’s lost its impact around that.”
Layden went on to say that E3 has failed to adequately change over the years which has led to it becoming less and less important in the grand scheme of things. “So the trade show became a trade show without a lot of trade activity. The world has changed, but E3 hasn’t necessarily changed with it,” he stated.
Layden went on to also say that E3 has instead become a place where fans expect big announcements which doesn’t always line up with PlayStation’s current strategy of creating video games. “And with our decision to do fewer games — bigger games — over longer periods of time, we got to a point where June of 2019 was not a time for us to have a new thing to say,” he told CNet. “And we feel like if we ring the bell and people show up here in force, people have expectation ‘Oh, they’re going to tell us something.'” Essentially, this year, in particular, it seems like Sony wouldn’t have anything drastic to announce come June, which then makes sense for them to skip out on the convention.
To conclude, Layden also said that if E3 needs to maintain relevancy then it needs to drastically evolve into something more akin to Comic-Con. “Can E3 transition more into a fan festival of gaming, where we don’t gather there to drop the new bomb? Can’t it just be a celebration of games and have panels where we bring game developers closer to fans?” he suggested.
Layden is likely right, as in recent years it has become rather confusing as to what E3 even is. Yes, for many publishers it is still a show where they go to announce and reveal many different products, but the inclusion of fan attendance the past few years has blurred the lines between trade show and fan convention to where E3 has lost its identity. If it does want to remain relevant, then E3 and the ESA needs to drastically change what the convention is supposed to be. Otherwise, I could see other publishers similar to Sony pulling out in the coming years.
As for Sony and PlayStation themselves, it doesn’t seem like they have a whole lot to announce in this early portion of 2019. Even though there are upcoming releases like Days Gone slated for April, the fact that Layden seemed to imply that they wouldn’t have anything to say come June leads me to believe that we shouldn’t be expecting release dates or further reveals for games like Death Stranding, The Last of Us: Part II, or Ghost of Tsushima any time soon. That’s just my own guess, though, and I could surely be wrong.
It’ll be interesting to follow Sony more throughout 2019 to see just when the publisher does decide to finally speak up more not only about its upcoming first-party games, but the potential for future hardware as well.