January 14, 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 exploring why the video game industry’s biggest annual event, E3, has fallen by the wayside, and what you should play, watch and read this weekend.
The highlight of the video game industry news cycle used to occur at the beginning of summer every year in Los Angeles. The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, has been a focal point for video game news, trailers and big reveals for years, but we’re now entering the third year in a row without a physical E3 showing after organizers last week canceled the 2022 event six months out.
It’s not the definitive end of E3, but it sure feels like the annual show may never reclaim its former glory after it was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 and shifted to an all-virtual format last year. The writing has been on the wall for quite some time, and it’s now more clear than ever the industry has moved away from centering all its biggest, most important marketing on a single, overcrowded week.
Game developers now talk straight to the consumer. The biggest sign of E3’s waning relevance started in 2013, when Nintendo said it would shift its presence at the show to a virtual press conference under the Nintendo Direct branding. This was just the first step in a broader industry movement to speak directly to consumers through online livestreams and announcements.
E3 is a showcase for older, more traditional gaming. The Entertainment Software Association, the trade group that organizes E3, is largely made up of the biggest console game publishers in the industry.
Other events and platforms have risen to take the spotlight. While E3 has waned, a number of other events have filled the gap to ensure there’s a steady stream of constant gaming news throughout the year. And thanks to platforms like Reddit and Discord, developers now have more two-way communication with fans.
There’s been plenty of speculation since last week's announcement on the future of E3 and whether the ESA will cancel the 2022 event altogether or try for another virtual-only event. Yet whatever form E3 takes going forward, it’s undoubtedly become the dinosaur in an industry that’s been shifting to digital for nearly a decade and forcibly adapting to the new reality of the pandemic. And if E3 disappears altogether, it’ll be because it failed to do either of those.
— Nick Statt
The #1 language learning app, Babbel gives you bite-sized lessons in a variety of languages. It'll have you speaking the basics in just 3 weeks. Plus, it has podcasts, games, videos and more to switch things up! Get 60% off today.
IFC Slightly Off. I’ve long been fascinated by the business of free, ad supported streaming channels. More recently, I’ve also found myself watching them a lot. One of my go-tos is Slightly Off, which features 24/7 IFC programming, including marathons of cult shows like “Portlandia,” “Documentary Now!” and “Food Party.” It’s a great way to waste a few, strange minutes here and there without having to think about what to watch. (Streaming on Pluto TV, Xumo, Plex and elsewhere)
Bourdain All Day. Another free streaming channel I turn to frequently, even if I’ve seen many of the episodes already. Because really, what would be better than a TV channel that just re-airs Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” 24/7? RIP, Anthony. (Streaming on Plex)
Annalee Newitz: “Four Lost Cities.” Newitz wrote one of my favorite science fiction books of the past few years, and then she followed it up with this super-interesting read on the history of urban development and life. “Four Lost Cities” first came out a year ago, and was rereleased as a paperback this week. (Your friendly neighborhood bookstore)
Nock. The folks behind Half + Half, a series of minigames for the Quest VR headset, have built a new VR sports game that somehow manages to combine soccer and archery. Nock hasn’t been released yet, but it’s coming soon, and the trailer out this week makes me really want to try it. (YouTube)
Your search did not match any documents. Getting zero results on Google is exceedingly rare, if only because the search engine happens to interpret even the most cryptic gibberish as a misspelled version of something else. But if you do happen to get to one of those coveted “no results found” pages, Google rewards you with a surprise: A Yeti who’s gone fishing, and finds new treasures every time you interact with him. Why a yeti? Because, much like your search term, “it's something that's super rare to find and may not exist,” according to Google Search Delight Director of Product Satyajeet Salgar. (You’re welcome)
— Janko Roettgers
Make 2022 the year you speak a new language. The #1 language learning app, Babbel gives you bite-sized lessons in a variety of languages. It'll have you speaking the basics in just 3 weeks. Plus, it has podcasts, games, videos and more to switch things up! Get 60% off today.
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to email@example.com. Enjoy your day, see you Tuesday.