Home Opinion: Game publishers, please keep your showcases brief from now on

Opinion: Game publishers, please keep your showcases brief from now on

This complaint is sort of tough to articulate because my job since 2008 has been to demand news of a private-sector business that is not obligated to divulge it. And June is the month when everyone in the games publishing industry finally goes, OK, we’ll give you the news now.

And boy does that firehose open. My colleagues and I furiously try to keep pace with the rapid-fire announcements of events like Summer Game Fest, and the Xbox Game Showcase, and coming later today, Ubisoft Forward.

It’s a symbiotic relationship, these platform holders and publishers announce the games, we print the news and get the clicks, I get it.

If we’re pretending to serve the same audience, though, I can’t say that we’re now making a purposeful use of its attention. I feel like we’re abusing it, actually, with these hour-long showcases (or more) in which every trailer is presented, cheek-by-jowl, as the single-most precious thing anyone could ever see at that moment in time, and then huge roundups that try to encapsulate everything shown.

It is impossible to place these schedules of wares (if they actually have launch dates) in any kind of context where a consumer can make a considerate judgment of how to spend their money, other than “take all of it.”

It is impossible to relate the importance of any “world premiere,” or even treat those words seriously, when everything is a “world premiere” breathlessly introduced with a title card and gravely spoken voice-overs about fighting for everything you believe in, leading into a closing title card that shoulder-shrugs at an actual release date.

Give games like Mixtape a time to shine

More importantly, it diffuses and diminishes the work of the studios, whose jobs are on the line quarter-to-quarter, who are applying tremendous effort to give PlayStation, Xbox, and major third-party publishers a breakout winner at the same time as they make statements of artistic character. That is a tough job, whatever your platform of choice.

If Mixtape, from Beethoven & Dinosaur (2021’s The Artful Escape), did not have the benefit of a nostalgic 1990s soundtrack in its reveal, I don’t know if anyone would today be raving about an idyllic memoir work that isn’t coming to market until 2025. It still stood out at the Xbox Games Showcase on Sunday despite being braced by two bog-standard announcements in which some post-apocalyptic wasteland has fallen to ruin and a brave someone must fight with everything they have to save it.

We’re getting pounded by all of these live streams — Xbox on Sunday went almost 90 minutes, then followed that with another full hour for Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 by itself — because June is when E3 ordinarily would be staged and E3 is when you’d get showcases — “press conferences” although no questions ever were taken and the assembled press applauded and whooped unprofessionally — flexing a console maker’s publishing muscle for the coming year.

With the shift from packaged goods sold by brick-and-mortar retailers like GameStop and Walmart moved to online marketplaces controlled by the console makers themselves, there really is no longer any need for such a flex. Yes, E3 was known for its closed-door presentations and spectacular reveals. But it was mainly a deal-making convention where corporate buyers for the likes of Target and Best Buy would commit to a certain number of copies to be sold across their stores.

E3 died not because of a lack of interest in video games, it ended because the marketplace moved to an abstract space and E3 was held in a real one. Yet these games are still marketed like publishers and platform-makers are still trying to convince some corporate-level buyer to go in for 100,000 units across a national chain of stores that today mainly exists as an online storefront, if not also a meme stock. Newsflash, you can publish a trailer to YouTube, or a developer deep dive to Twitch, any day you wish.

Everything in moderation

So let’s take a deep breath, and as a request to games publishers, I’d ask that when you have a game whose development has progressed far enough that the studio is confident enough to propose a release window, simply announce it at that point, whether on Twitch, YouTube, X, your official website, or any number of channels and platforms that get our attention.

We’ll definitely notice. Please give these games their own moment. They are something that dozens if not hundreds of professionals have devoted more than a year, even two or three or more, of their lives to creating. And there are several games out there that got luxe E3-season reveals whose development staff are now reading the want ads.

I love video games too, not just as my job, but because I will always be an easily excited second-grader who can’t believe he can get this machine to work on a color TV in the living room, even if I turn 51 in three months. Yet as Reggie Jackson famously said of hitting Nolan Ryan’s fastballs, “Everybody likes ice cream. But you don’t like it when someone’s stuffing it into you by the gallon.” And that’s what these showcases, yes you Microsoft, and The Game Awards, and Ubisoft Forward, and Summer Game Fest, now represent. Ice cream served by the gallon. Yummy, but a roadmap to a headache.

There is no longer a need to do a 90-minute show jampacked with trailers. Fun as those days were, accept the reality they died a decade ago. Hell, give that time a trailer, like Mixtape, with a gold-medal sunset and a dubstep soundtrack and a wistful smile. Just don’t bury it inside an hourlong reel of advertisements.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Owen Good
Gaming Editor (US)

Owen Good is a 15-year veteran of video games writing, also covering pop culture and entertainment subjects for the likes of Kotaku and Polygon. He is a Gaming Editor for ReadWrite working from his home in North Carolina, the United States, joining this publication in April, 2024. Good is a 1995 graduate of North Carolina State University and a 2000 graduate of The Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, in New York. A second-generation newspaperman, Good's career before covering video games included daily newspaper stints in North Carolina; in upstate New York; in Washington, D.C., with the Associated Press; and…

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.