Recently there was a lot of hysteria, shock, and negativity over Sony’s decision not to have a presence at E3 2019. Naturally numerous opinions flew from fans and detractors ranging from the demise of E3 to a misstep for Sony. Calmer voices attributed Sony’s decision on simple business matters; simply that they were not prepared to announce or discuss their rumored new system; and that any pending exclusive titles had already been announced or were also not ready for reveal.
After discussing what some of the likely options are for Sony moving forward; I remembered something that my rep at Rockstar told me in regard to why Red Dead Redemption 2 was not at the 2018 E3 conference and did not have a presence at any trade shows leading up to a highly successful launch.
The decision came down to “noise” as they believed there was simply too much going on at the conferences and that the game was going to sell regardless of any of the usual pre-launch routines that are common when featuring a game of the convention.
Sony very likely factored in cost and schedule reasons and ultimately realized that due to their position in the marketplace; they can make an announcement on their own, at a later convention, or simply wait, knowing full well that when they do decide to release new information to the public in whatever format they choose; it will still get plenty of coverage and will still result in sales.
This would apply to their catalog of announced and unannounced games as well as any future hardware. PS5 rumors and speculation abound but the majority of Sony’s E3 announcements and booth have been devoted to games more than hardware over the years as hardware only comes into play when a new console launch is pending or a new accessory is released. But it is and has been largely a showcase for the company to talk about their pending games.
The Last of Us 2 is going to sell, but Death Stranding is much more of an uncertainty. Sony has a plan and knows that whatever exclusives they announce game wise is likely to sell due to their market presence and fan loyalty.
To me it is a changing or adjustment of the dynamic where companies were compelled to make their presence known at trade shows regardless if they had anything significant or not to reveal her showcase. An absence of a company often had people speculate down a negative path as to the future direction of the company. Now companies are more strategic and realize they have numerous options to make their reveals that are not dependent upon being ready for the big summer and early fall conventions. The speed of the Internet and Social Media allows Sony the freedom to craft their own showcase event on their schedule and not be under this scrutiny of so many media members who expect them to one up their competition who traditionally had made their announcements only a few hours earlier.
Regardless of what Sony has in store; I do not believe there absence from the convention will be long-term as E3 is still an extremely important and influential showcase which was evident by the amount of social media traffic generated from the last two shows. The fact that several thousand members of the public are now able to pay to gain admission to the show also helps indicate that the show is in a state of adjustment but will continue to provide a very big and visual showcase for companies looking to promote their products. The question now is whether companies see the value in this; or decide that they are better served controlling their announcements without so much competition fighting for coverage at the same time.