Two weeks ago, I put up a rather humorous article in which I interviewed an anthropomorphic caricature of the Electronic Entertainment Expo. When the subject of EA came up, E3 became furious; he couldn’t understand why one of the world’s largest video game publishers had dared to opt out of the show to host its own event – EA Play – only a few days earlier. Why couldn’t every video game company just play nice and be a part of E3? Why did EA have to distance itself?
After sitting through Electronic Arts’ 2017 EA Play press conference, I’m convinced – in contrast – that what EA has done thus far to divorce itself from E3 isn’t enough.
This press conference has shown – just as last year’s EA Play press conference showed, and the year before that, and so on – that when EA wants to talk with gamers, it prefers talking with its enthusiasts that live and breath Madden and NBA Live on video-sharing paltforms, social media, and competitive circuits alike – at the expense of all the “other” gamers that tune in. Occasionally, EA sidesteps and acknowledges the “others'” presence, as seen with announcements like indie developer Hazelight’s story-driven cooperative multiplayer game A Way Out. But for the most part, EA speaks firmly and exclusively to its core, to the point that one unfamiliar with publishing giant might mistake their press conference for rambling lunacy (looking at you, Men in Blazers).
And that’s perfectly fine. So long as EA continues to keep an open dialogue with the fans of its games, listening to them, iterating its properties based on their feedback, and rewarding them for their commitment to the EA brand, it doesn’t need to do anything else to maintain its current position as a titan in the industry. But if that’s how EA wants to continue to thrive in 2017, it should look to further distance EA Play from E3. By having its premiere press conference take place only a few before the show proper, EA has set expectations that its show will cater to the same crowd that tunes in to watch the rest of the show, and in doing so, has set itself up for disappointment year after year when inevitably, it does not. Whether it be by a few weeks, or a few months, EA needs to reschedule its press conference so as to communicate to the world that it is only interested in appealing to its enthusiast niche at EA Play, and that anyone else that tunes in is just going to have to accept what they get. Don’t worry – Anything that EA produces that doesn’t really fall into this niche, that would be better serviced shown off at E3 proper, such as story-oriented experiences like Mass Effect or Dead Space, are historically already shown off at the other attendees’ conferences – Anthem, Bioware’s new IP, is already scheduled to have a sizeable amount of time devoted to it at Microsoft’s press conference come Sunday.
EA, it’s time that you further separated yourself from E3. No hard feelings, it’s just what’s best for you.