Geoff Keighley's name carries a ton of weight in the gaming industry. As the face of The Game Awards and the host of the Summer Game Fest, everyone listens when Keighley says something. But, in recent months, his name hasn't been devoid of controversy. Some within the gaming community are accusing Keighley of killing the iconic Electronic Entertainment Expo with his events.
E3's cancellation in March marked a sad milestone in the gaming industry. The decision was supposedly made due to a mix of multiple reasons, including the lack of resources and being unable to get major gaming companies to commit and make their playable demos available. However, there's speculation that the rise of Summer Game Fest was the biggest factor that led to E3's death. Following the announcement, Keighley expressed his sorrow on Twitter, underscoring his respect and affection for the event that was a central part of his life since he was 15.
In an interview with VGC, Keighly firmly rejects the narrative that he and the Summer Game Fest were the executioners of E3, saying:
I think E3 sort of killed itself in a way.
I understand why people say [I killed E3], but I think if anything, we created Summer Game Fest, and I built Summer Game Fest because I saw the wheels falling off the wagon of E3.
Keighley's sentiments echo a wider trend within the gaming industry over the past decade. These days, the big companies are preferring to host their own showcases over joining large trade events like E3.
Once PlayStation pulled out of E3 in 2019, the rest of the industry took notice. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic happened.
Keighley explains that he once envisioned a world where Summer Game Fest could co-exist with E3. He claims that he's had discussions with E3's event organizer, ReedPop, even contemplating a model that would see games announced at Summer Game Fest before becoming playable at E3. However, Keighley's reservations about the long-term viability of E3 meant that Summer Game Fest had to fill in the gaps that he believed E3 was lacking rather than act as a direct competitor.
The inaugural Summer Game Fest, which launched in the wake of E3 2020's cancelation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was an online-only showcase. Keighley worked from a spare bedroom to bring gaming news to fans in a digital format - totally different from E3's way of doing things. His oozing passion helped Summer Game Fest gain traction and popularity, leading to its current standing as a premier gaming event.
Keighley suggests the death of E3 was the result of a combination of factors, including relevance among audiences and the participation of sponsors.
Still, Keighley insists that the Summer Game Fest didn't kill E3. Instead, Keighley thinks that the gaming community would have "splintered apart" if not for it.
To date, the future of E3 remains uncertain. However, we can't deny the rise of Summer Game Fest and other individualized company showcases. This trend demonstrates the shift in the industry towards a more digital, accessible, and personalized approach to gaming announcements and showcases.
Amidst all the changes, Keighley's love for the gaming industry remains evident - a constant driving force behind all of his initiatives.