June 3, 2022
Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Friday, we’re previewing the massive week of gaming news ahead that’s replacing this year’s traditional E3 conference, as well as suggestions for what to read, watch and play this weekend.
A decade ago, around this time of year, every major video game studio and publisher would flock to downtown Los Angeles to show off their biggest products to a live and (increasingly) online crowd of eager consumers. The Electronic Entertainment Expo, fondly known as E3, persisted even as big industry players like Nintendo and Sony began to pull away, if only because of a shared nostalgia for what these events represent to fans and the opportunity, though a dwindling one, to generate much-needed buzz in an increasingly competitive market.
E3 isn’t happening this year: It got canceled. Twice, in fact, first with the removal of its physical event in January and then the digital one in March. But that hasn’t stopped the game industry from barreling full steam into a June hype cycle, underlining just how important these events are to game makers that, unlike the Epics and Robloxes of the world, rely on sales.
Welcome to Not-E3. That’s the sarcastic name media folks and other industry watchers have slapped onto this year’s marketing extravaganza. This next week and a half very much has the scope, look and feel of an E3, but without the Los Angeles Convention Center hall and its overpriced, rubbery pizza slices.
Gaming companies stopped needing E3 a long time ago. The game industry likes to use the summer to market new products and generate hype because it helps sell games during the fall and holiday season. But an annual game conference dedicated to the entire industry (notably excluding the increasingly important mobile and free-to-play sectors) has been antiquated for quite some time, and certainly before the pandemic made such events logistically and ethically impractical.
Keeping expectations in check. One of the biggest pitfalls for modern game companies is overhyping their products and disappointing fans in the process. That’s how you end up with Cyberpunk 2077 or, more commonly, having to announce game delays.
— Nick Statt
There are three things that companies need to know when it comes to setting climate goals. The first thing I would say is that if you're going to set a climate goal as a business, it needs to be a businesswide effort. It cannot live within just the corporate responsibility or the sustainability team as it often does.
“Stranger Things” — Netflix. I lost interest in “Stranger Things” after the second season; there’s only so much “retro meets gore” I can take. Still, the show has clearly become a cultural phenomenon, and the three-year gap between Seasons Three and Four only seems to have kindled the fire. When the fourth season finally debuted on Netflix last weekend, it instantly became the service’s most-watched English-language show to date. Which is a very long-winded way of saying: Fine, I’ll give it another try this coming weekend. How about you?
The tale of the outlaw nuns — Mel. Looking for an escape from all the bleak news these days? Then dig in and read the tale of the Belgian nuns who quietly sold off their convent’s possessions, acquired all kinds of interesting and odd stuff, and fled the country in the dead of night. Someone should turn this into a movie!
“The Expanse” — Amazon Prime Video. “The Expanse” is one of those shows that has a very dedicated fan base, but not a whole lot of name recognition beyond that base. That’s what led to SyFy pulling the plug on the show after Season Three aired in 2018, resulting in a fan campaign to save the show, which in turn got Amazon to buy and run three additional seasons.
The show itself is set in a universe where civilization is split into three factions: Earth, ruled by a much more gung-ho version of the U.N.; Mars, whose inhabitants want to turn it into a better version of Earth; and the Belt, an industrial zone home to the universe’s underdogs. There’s a constant threat of war between those factions, coups, deceit, aliens — and somehow, a small gang of friends with a stolen ship and a no-nonsense attitude always finds itself in the middle of everything. Amazon streams all six seasons of “The Expanse” to Prime subscribers, making it the perfect show to binge this summer.
The Last Clockwinder — Meta Quest / Steam. The Last Clockwinder is an intriguing new VR puzzle game with a bit of a backstory: You get to save a mysterious clocktower from sinking by solving a series of puzzles. Some of the tasks are pretty repetitive, but that’s by design: Instead of doing the same thing over and over again, you get to train gardening robots to do them for you by recording small loops of your actions. At first, the set design may be a bit underwhelming — the clock tower basically consists of a series of floors that look very much alike, and there are a bunch of decorations that you can’t interact with at all — but soon, the challenges draw you in, and seeing all those gardening robots work in unison feels oddly satisfying.
— Janko Roettgers
Once a company understands its sustainability baseline, it is important to identify areas that the company can feasibly make more sustainable, and then address those areas. Implementing technology that improves connectivity and provides greater insight into operations will prove to be the solution for many companies.