Summer Game Fest 2022

This year’s Summer Game Fest was a Phoenix rising from the ashes of E3 2022. But with an opportunity to do something different, it was shocking how samey it felt. I mean, it was the same old song and dance of stilted, grating dialogue from “friendly” presenters, CG trailers that aren’t indicative of what the actual finished game will actually be, and boring interviews or dev talks that just hog up space where actual gameplay trailers could have gone.

If the games industry at large is hoping to move beyond the ancient format of E3 and remain relevant in this new “Keigh3” era, it needs to push forward into the future rather than spinning its wheels in the past. The future of gaming is exciting; talking about that shouldn’t bore viewers to death.

To help move things along a bit, here are a few things I think these showcases should do in order to be more engaging.

Stop showing non-gameplay or in-engine “short films”

Aliens: Dark Descent - Xenomorphs

A lot of game trailers are effectively short films. Most of the time, these trailers are not even indicative of what the game they are announcing will even actually play like, so why waste everyone’s time showcasing a misrepresentation and muddying up the waters? I mean, these companies actually want us to buy their product, right? So just lay it out there and let the chips fall as they may.

Take for example the Alien Dark Descent trailer. Even though people seemed to be pleasantly surprised that another Alien game was on the way (hopefully a good one at that), most didn’t quite know what kind of game Dark Descent was aiming to be. Very few even noticed the quick, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it glimpse of actual gameplay at the tail end of the interrogation-styled trailer.

Here’s the thing: Cutscenes are the part of video games that most of us will skip if given the opportunity; why advertise a game by just showing nothing but non-interactive content?

As another example, here is Redfall‘s reveal trailer from E3 2021:

And here’s the gameplay trailer from Summer Game Fest 2022:

Although not completely apples to oranges, the reveal trailer has far more stylized action and character movements than the actual game, which feels robotic by comparison.

Who does this serve? I mean, yeah, these trailers can look really cool and go a long ways towards generating hype, but if the game is even slightly off the mark from what was initially shown, or has a noticeable downgrade in fidelity, it will always only end up biting developers in the behind.

If you want a game to get hype and sell on its own merits, just show the actual game. Even if it is a compilation of gameplay chunks and not one long, uninterrupted segment, that is still far better than showing an admittedly well-made CG trailer that doesn’t give anyone a concrete idea of what’s on offer.

Get rid of announcers and developer interviews pretty much altogether

Modern Warfare 2 - Summer Game Fest

“Hi, I’m Jane Doe and I am the lighting programmer for Game: The Game.”

Who cares? I mean, good on you, and thank you for all of your hard work, but I don’t want to hear from anyone who’s actively developing the game about just how amazing and great said game is going to be. Have you ever met a musician that went on and on about just how merely okay their music is? No, and the same goes for most people when it comes to anything they have spent a tremendous amount of time and energy creating. No shade on those efforts, but these people are not exactly in a position of being the model of objectivity, especially when discussing a product they are hoping a lot of people will buy.

I don’t care about Troy Baker overcoming insecurities to record yet another voice track. I mean, good on ya for finding the strength or motivation to accomplish the task that was being asked of you, but that’s for you, bro. I also don’t care that Hideo Kojima is excited to be making a game for Xbox. I mean, I’m happy the man and his team of developers are continuing to find employment doing the thing they seem to enjoy doing, but that is neither here nor there. I just care about the end product and whether or not, as a consumer product we are purchasing as the consumer base, it’s fun, engaging, and worthwhile.

Hideo Kojima - Xbox Presentation 2022

This goes double for chummy banter between hosts. Sorry, Geralt and Yennefer, but if you aren’t voicing lines in a Witcher game, why do we need you cringing your way through a presentation seemingly scripted by someone who probably still thinks Arthur memes are dank? I love these people’s work, and they seem like nice people, but why are companies wasting so much money on this? Just show the games in a wham-bam succession and let the gameplay do the talking.

And don’t even get me started on Dwayne Johnson’s infomercial on Dwayne Johnson; that was more eye-rolling than listening to Michelle Rodriguez, clearly a diehard “gamer,” figure out live onstage how to literally pronounce Tekken while gushing about how much they love playing Tek-ken.

And look, I respect and appreciate the hell out of Geoff Keighley and all of his efforts to not only steadfastly represent the Geoffs of the world (in defiance of all the Jeffs), but to also pull off this circus for a number of years now. And, I mean, this year he managed to take on the role of filling the void left by E3 and bringing the industry and their fans together in celebration of this hobby we all love — that’s no small thing. But we don’t really need a host if all he’s doing is playing hype man. A lot of this can be handled by a well-placed voiceover and a pre-recorded show.

Again, just give me rapid-fire gameplay-only trailers and call it a day. Most people tuning in are just there for the trailers, reveals, and world premieres, so let’s stop kidding ourselves and wasting everyone’s time. I watched the 90-minute Xbox & Bethesda Showcase in 20 minutes, fast-forwarding through all of the superfluous fluff, banter and huff-puffery. Without all the bloat, they wouldn’t have needed a second showcase this year.

Put an end to the double-dipping or overlap trailers

A Plague Tale: Requiem

We live in the era of YouTube. Mere moments after a trailer debuts, it is available as a standalone trailer excised from the rest of the presentation to watch to one’s heart’s content. And that’s to say nothing of the dozens of articles that will be written, devoted to dissecting, highlighting, and speculating to the hills and back. And look, I know that Half-Glass Gaming isn’t innocent here.

But if a game trailer premieres on the first day at the opening livestream event, there is no need to show it again at the publisher’s own showcase. It’s already bad enough having to suffer through some of these presentations when it is seemingly wall-to-wall stuff you aren’t particularly interested in. But it’s even worse when you think the tide might be turning with the next trailer, only to have it be one you’ve already seen.

How about we schedule these showcases for when those of us with actual jobs can enjoy them?

Saints Row

I know that roughly half of the video game industry’s customer base is made up of 14-year old racist kids — at least if online voice chat is any concrete statistical evidence. So they don’t have anywhere they actually need to be during the middle of a work day, apparently. But some of us work actual jobs, even if we are also actually covering these events. So when an hour-and-a-half-long presentation airs at 11 a.m. on a Thursday, the adult portion of the customer base? Well, we’re at work, ya’ll.

I get it, doing these showcases during normal workday business hours lends some semblance of professionalism to a celebration of toys (put your pitchforks down; I’m kidding here). But cut a brother some slack, especially if a third of the presentation might already be trailers I’ve already seen, and roughly 50% of the Summer Game Fest is devoted to stilted attempts at good-natured ribbing between hosts we don’t know and don’t really care to know.

If the industry could just get past the idea of hype-people and salespersons to simply showcase actual gameplay, rather than some CG fantasy of what they really wish the game could be, I think it would be better for everyone involved. Companies wouldn’t need to waste money on decking out fake cargo ships with Call of Duty paraphernalia and could maybe instead devote that money to the people that work on these games who don’t get heathcare, work insane hours, get verbally harassed by disgruntled gamers, and have to stomach watching toads like Bobby Kotick make a mockery of this industry — an industry, I should remind you, we all collectively agree we love.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x