Summer Game Fest Becoming ‘Less Intense’ This Year Was Inevitable

The time around Summer Game Fest, formerly known as E3 month, is a very exciting time for gamers. Aside from The Game Awards, this is the biggest week all year where we know we’ll have new game reveals, updates on games we can’t wait to play, and loads more gamer goodness. On a typical year, we’d be eating pretty good. To truly be the new E3, this is what it needs.

These will be your games that are nearly guaranteed to have blockbuster-level sales even if they’re just mediocre, your God of Wars and your Call of Dutys and your Grand Theft Autos. This year’s SGF however, as Keighley said in a Twitch Q&A about the showcase, is a “lighter” year, but not a quiet one. There will still be announcements, but mostly about games we already know are in progress, instead of projects we haven’t heard of yet. Optimistically, Studios Are Just Learning From Their Mistakes The big problem with the game industry hype cycle is that studios announce games far too early.

So often, we’ll get a cinematic teaser for a game that’s barely entered full-blown production just so players can get excited about it, and then it’ll get delayed three times, if it’s given a release window at all. If we’re being extremely optimistic, perhaps naively so, we might interpret this lack of new announcements as studios simply not throwing their cards on the table prematurely, with the trailers acting more as recruitment ads than teases for the players. We see this all the time, especially when those games are part of popular franchises. Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, which everybody is hoping will finally be released this year, was first announced in late 2018 at The Game Awards, before it even had an official name.

The studio said at the time that the game would be released no earlier than 2021, but because development had slowed during the pandemic, we’re only seeing more information about the game now, nearly six years after the initial announcement. The game only reached alpha in late 2022, and it still isn’t out. Less Optimistically, It’s Because Of Layoffs It’s not much of a stretch that perhaps we aren’t seeing new games because everybody who wants to make games keeps losing their jobs through no fault of their own. Most recently, we’ve seen successful, beloved studios owned by Xbox be closed because there isn’t enough money to go around, and the corporation would rather focus on Bethesda’s new games that are destined to bring in safe, risk-free profit instead of fostering creativity in the medium.

The Silver Lining Is That Indies Are Here To Fill The Gap But the indie scene, against all odds, is still thriving. While triple-A development is constricted to a trickle because of escalating costs and development time, it feels like every month, at least three or four excellent and innovative indies are released. This is likely because indies take much less money to create and are often funded independently by players keen to see interesting concepts brought to fruition. Without as many triple-As to get stuck into – and thank god, because I’m sick of big games that don’t take risks – indies have more space to thrive and find players.

Keighley might still fill SGF with updates on triple-A games that aren’t new, but I’m hoping that this means more attention will be paid to games with smaller scopes and budgets, both in the showcase and by players more generally. We may be in a big game shortage, but there are indies to plug the void in your soul aching for something to play. The showcase will still be tamer than usual, and that’s fine – there might still be an upside. Then again, Keighley might just get Hideo Kojima on stage for half the show to kill time, so I can’t say for sure it’ll all turn out fine.

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