Sony Interactive Entertainment dropped a big bombshell on the Entertainment Software Association today when it said that it would not be attending E3 in 2019. Nor is it planning a separate, offsite-but-nearby show of its own akin to EA or the late, lamented Devolver parking lot. PlayStation senior vice president of communications Jennifer Clark told Game Informer flat-out that Sony “will not activate or hold a press conference around E3.”
“As the industry evolves, Sony Interactive Entertainment continues to look for inventive opportunities to engage the community,” the company said in a statement. “PlayStation fans mean the world to us and we always want to innovate, think differently and experiment with new ways to delight gamers. As a result, we have decided not to participate in E3 in 2019. We are exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019 and can’t wait to share our plans with you.”
Sony’s presence at E3 generally wasn’t a high priority for us because of its predilection for PlayStation exclusives, but we always watch its press event and usually pick up footage of an interesting independent game that eventually arrives on PC. Sony’s withdrawal is relevant because of what it could signal for the overall fortunes of the show. The ready availability of broadband internet and advent of streaming platforms like Twitch means that publishers aren’t nearly as reliant on live annual showcases like E3. And if Sony is wondering why it should go to all that expense and hassle when it can just livestream the whole thing from the office a la Nintendo Direct, how long will it be before everyone else starts asking the same question—and coming to the same “skip it” conclusion?
For now, at least, the other big players remain committed to the show. The Entertainment Software Association put out a press release trumpeting the success of this year’s E3 and promising to achieve “new heights” in 2019. Coincidentally or not, it also included statements from both Microsoft and Nintendo, reaffirming their support for the event.
“E3 is an incredible platform to showcase the vibrancy and creativity of the video game industry,” Microsoft’s Xbox boss Phil Spencer said. “The ESA continues to expand the event’s reach to fans and the industry, both in attendance and online, and we look forward to what’s ahead at E3 2019.”
The ESA said that Microsoft, Nintendo of America, Activision, Bethesda Softworks, Capcom, Epic Games, Konami, Square Enix, Take-Two, Ubisoft, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment have all committed to taking part in E3 2019. The show runs June 11-13 in Los Angeles, but as in previous years will be preceded by major publisher press events, including our PC Gaming Show, that effectively stretch it out to almost a full week.