“The world has changed, but E3 hasn’t necessarily changed with it.”
Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios chairman Shawn Layden recently discussed why Sony is skipping E3 this year, and how the company is focusing on fewer, but bigger, games.
In an interview with CNET, Layden spoke about Sony’s early involvement in E3, and how in the 90s the show served both retailers and journalists. He feels these focuses have ultimately changed and can now be served better elsewhere.
“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,” said Layden. “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,” said Layden. “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 expectations ‘Oh, they’re going to tell us something.’”
Layden ultimately spoke about how E3 might need to change into something more akin to a fan-centric show like Comic-Con, saying “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?”
Layden also discussed how Sony’s current developers are focussing on fewer, but bigger, projects. “I think we’ve done a lot over the last three or four years to get us to a place right now where we’re building fewer games per year than ever before, but we’re spending more time, more energy, certainly more money, on making them,” said Layden. “So we’re striking on all the beats that we want to, and we’re getting both critical and commercial acclaim.”
In conjunction with its current studios, Layden spoke of how Sony looks at acquiring new potential studios. “Let’s see now what we might add to our arsenal. I’ve looked at some opportunities in the past, it’s an opportunity to look for the ones that are the best cultural fit. We’re always exploring opportunities. If we found a partner or a team or a game that we felt was particularly meaningful and interesting in a service area, we will look to bring that in. We’re always open to that kind of experience.”
Layden also discussed how Sony isn’t chasing the battle royale trend, saying “I don’t want to get into me-too. I think the world’s got all the battle royale it needs right now.”
Last year, Sony announced it would be skipping E3 2019, and would instead be “exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019.” The next day, Nintendo and Microsoft confirmed they would still be attending this year’s E3, with Microsoft later saying Xbox will be “as big at E3 as we’ve ever been.”
We have our own theories on why Sony is skipping E3 this year, one of which involves Sony shifting its focus onto PlayStation 5 development, which later reports suggested is happening. For more on the eventual next PlayStation, check out which PS5 games we think may already be in development.
Colin Stevens is a news writer for IGN. Follow him on Twitter.