If you’re a retailer or a journalist, you may want to read the recent comments made by Sony’s Shawn Layden about E3 and why they won’t be there. In a new interview with CNET, Layden was asked point blank why they chose to drop out, and this time around we got a lengthy answer in which he explains that attending E3 isn’t something they want to do anymore. The company appears to be exploring different options for exposure and apparently would like to see a change in how E3 is handled.
You’re not the first big company to bow out of the big E3 video game show in June, but I’m curious why you chose this year to drop out?
When we decided to take video games out of CES, back in 1995 during the PlayStation 1 era, E3 served two constituencies: retailers and journalists. Retailers would come in — you’d see a guy come in, and he’d say, “I’m from Sears, and I handle Hot Wheels, Barbie, VHS and video games. So what are you about?” There was a huge educational component. Then you had journalists who had magazines and lead time and jockeying for position on the cover. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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.” We are progressing the conversation about, how do we transform E3 to be more relevant? 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?
While that’s a well-thought-out response for Sony, it’s also a pretty easy stance to take when you’re one of the biggest gaming companies on the planet and everyone wants to work with you. A lot of developers and publishers are not as fortunate. So while it sucks Sony won’t be around, the bright side is the space can go to companies who need it and want to reach out to retailers and press. At least, that’s our opinion. What do you think of Sony’s stance on E3?