SuperData reckons that publishers are doing fine without E3

SuperData reckons that publishers are doing fine without E3

Triple-A games companies are seeing more engagement with their announcement events than they did for previous E3s.

That's according to Carter Rogers, principal analyst at research firm SuperData, who wrote in a blog post that the online showcases that companies including Sony, Microsoft and Ubisoft ran boasted huge viewer figures. This follows E3 being cancelled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The June 11th PlayStation 5 reveal event boasted an average of 1.51m viewers per minute on Twitch, compared to 940,000 for Microsoft's E3 2019 conference. Of course, this isn't a fair comparison given that the PS5 showcase is arguably a bigger deal that would draw a larger crowd than a regular press event. Oh, and Microsoft would have been pushing its E3 broadcast on its own Mixer platform rather than Twitch.

Ubisoft's Forward event on July 12th, meanwhile, drew an audience of 1.02m average users per minute when it aired in July, compared to the 750,000 that the French firm's E3 2019 press conference attracted.

SuperData does point out that the trend of companies attracting larger audiences this year without E3 isn't perfect; the PC Gaming Show saw 141,000 users on average in 2019, compared to just 68,000 this year.

Though E3 did not take place this year, it's also possible that because more people are working from home at the moment thanks to stay-at-home orders to try and restrict the spread of coronavirus, more people were able to tune in for these broadcasts, too. Certainly for those of us in the UK, Sony's E3 media briefings air early in the morning, meaning that fewer people would have tuned in.

"The results of switching to remote conferences in 2020 show that triple-A publishers are fine skipping E3 or other events if they so choose, at least when it comes to generating coverage," Rogers concluded.

"However, smaller publishers and developers benefit from proximity to bigger announcements. The organisers of virtual events like Guerrilla Collective and the Future Games Show should be commended for putting on showcases this summer, but these probably can’t replace the attention-grabbing value of a big conference. (That’s to say nothing of the non-marketing benefits of events including business development and networking opportunities).

"Until big in-person gaming events return, the most successful small developers will be those who can form partnerships with platform holders and top publishers. This allows them to get their games in front of consumers when they are keeping an eye out for the biggest announcements. For example, the indie game Bugsnax from Young Horses generated buzz after its trailer debuted during the PlayStation 5 reveal. For companies that aren’t triple-A publishers or associated with one, the current environment will limit their exposure to potential players and has shown just how valuable these gatherings can be."

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.