We’ll say this for not-E3: there aren’t any strains. Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest “Play Days” occasion does not look or really feel very similar to the sprawling expo we used to attend on the Los Angeles Convention Center, however after three years, it is good to be again at a summer time game occasion of some variety. “E3” this yr is principally only one massive (however not that massive) room stuffed with demo stations, and when you step three toes outdoors you are instantly immolated by the LA solar. 

Can Geoff Keighley really pull off a alternative for E3 all by himself, although? This occasion looks as if an try and reply that query.

Wes Fenlon, Senior Editor: For the previous couple of years E3 appeared prefer it was in determined survival mode—or in determined revenue mode, anyway—and attempting to merge a press occasion and a public occasion led to compromises that upset each teams. People have been paying some huge cash for little or no to do once they’d be higher off going to PAX. At the identical time, I believe this a lot smaller occasion is an efficient reminder of how a lot of E3 was exorbitant fluff, even for the press. Sony and Nintendo and Capcom and the remaining would spend thousands and thousands of {dollars} placing collectively these large cubicles, however in the long run we would nonetheless simply be shuffling into some rickety room separated by curtains to play a game on a 27-inch monitor. This occasion is approach extra sensible.

Morgan Park, Staff Writer: I have never tripped over a single taped-down energy twine but, in order that’s a very good signal.

Wes: As a power being-on-time worrier, I actually respect that my subsequent appointment right here at Keigh3, a easy show ground of TV quads arrange with couches going through both sides, is actually not more than 30 seconds away. We booked appointments upfront and might wander round watching people play the identical video games in between demos.

Many of our demos have been, like, quarter-hour lengthy, and so restricted that there actually is not a lot to say about them.


Morgan: Totally. I spent two years at outdated E3 ready in multi-hour strains to play a single 10-minute demo and there is fortunately none of that Disneyland expertise right here. Play Days is extra just like the aspect of E3 that the general public by no means bought to see—scheduled appointments to see video games and speak to devs, now with no crowd to elbow via.

Wes and I’ve a handful of appointments every. Sometimes we get to play the game for 15-Half-hour, like I did with the Outriders Worldslayer enlargement. In some circumstances we’re simply there to interview the devs, like with Nightingale, however a lot of the video games aren’t providing interviews. As for the large time gaps between, we will wander the show ground, say hello to associates, or eat a rooster bowl.

What the Summer Game Fest “Play Days” house appears to be like like. (Image credit score: Future)

Wes: But is that this little show actually a alternative for E3, which for years was the occasion for giant game bulletins? The complete factor is smaller than a Microsoft or Sony “booth” at E3 basic.

Morgan: A single E3 Sony sales space may eat this whole venue. I can’t deny that not-E3 lacks the pomp and circumstance of years previous. Most of the video games listed here are fairly small and essentially the most recognizable publishers didn’t make an look. Who did show up?

  • Sega
  • Capcom
  • Atlus
  • Bandai Namco
  • Skybound

Wes: Here’s what I’m actually questioning: Is Play Days this small as a result of the key publishers simply haven’t got a lot to indicate this yr, after so many pandemic delays? Or is it small as a result of these publishers determined they did not want to hitch Geoff’s occasion once they can get all of the eyeballs they want with livestreams?

Morgan: I do get the sense that the ship has sailed for the most important names: EA, Sony, and Microsoft consider they’re large enough to do their very own factor. But this additionally seems like a bizarre yr for Geoff to provide this a shot. Every massive game on the docket remains to be distant or about to get delayed. All Sony has to speak about right now could be The Last of Us remake. Microsoft has its personal stream, nevertheless it’s not holding any hands-on occasion that I’m conscious of.

Street Fighter 6 is sweet as hell, although, and I bought to spend about 45 minutes with it.


Wes: I like the dimensions of this occasion, however on the entire I do not suppose it is an efficient showcase for a lot of the video games right here. Many of our demos have been, like, quarter-hour lengthy, and so restricted that there actually is not a lot to say about them. That definitely occurred at outdated E3, too, however I believe the dimensions of the expo meant there have been at all times a number of video games with extra in-depth first appears to be like that felt genuinely thrilling. Dark Souls 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 come to thoughts. 

Morgan: Yeah, there is just one massive “demo to see” right here, and that is Warhammer 40K: Darktide, which really rented a separate room across the nook to suit eight gaming PCs for co-op periods. There’s additionally Sonic Frontiers, which we have already got plenty of ideas about.

(Image credit score: Future)

Wes: Street Fighter 6 is sweet as hell, although, and I bought to spend about 45 minutes with it. Having the primary hands-on here’s a massive deal for Keigh3. I believe that is my takeaway from an intimate occasion like this: If you are not attempting to compete with E3 for wow issue, the demos themselves must be extra substantial. I believe Play Days is a letdown by that metric, however possibly that is simply where we’re at after 2.5 years of Covid.

Morgan: But they’ve limitless popcorn, Wes.

Wes Fenlon: Why did not I carry a suitcase to fill totally with popcorn? I by no means plan forward for these items.

But okay, waiting for subsequent yr: the ESA says E3 is coming again in particular person, for reals. At the tip of his show Geoff Keighley additionally mentioned Summer Game Fest can be an in-person occasion in 2023. Are Keighley and the ESA going to have a High Noon shootout subsequent yr?

Morgan: If this yr was any indication, there aren’t sufficient video games to share. A bizarre double E3 break up between the LA Convention Center and Geoff’s cool hangout pad can be barren on either side. Someone has to cave, right?

I’d be mendacity if I advised you I did not miss the bullshit. Just slightly.


Wes: Maybe so, or possibly E3 tries to completely rework itself right into a public occasion. The worst factor concerning the proliferation of livestreams during the last three years is we find yourself seeing the identical video games showing on like, 4 completely different streams, exhibiting 10 seconds of recent footage every time. It’s exhausting and, frankly, boring. I actually hope we do not see the identical splintering occur with in-person occasions, too. 

Play Days actually made me take into consideration who these big E3 cubicles have been for, although, and I’m reminded that it wasn’t the press. They have been massive and flashy to placed on a show for traders and COOs and GameCease managers and whoever the hell desires a swag bag with a Call of Duty: Ghosts poster in it. Play Days is excellent for a press occasion: not one of the bullshit, simply video games. Next yr’s demos simply actually need to provide us extra to dig into.

Morgan: I’d be mendacity if I advised you I did not miss the bullshit. Just slightly. For all of the fluff of E3, the centralization of it meant you can nonetheless get significant tales out of it, as press. Having 75% of the gaming trade collected in a single location made that doable. Play Days is extra sanitized. It’s nearly too excellent.