Former Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime has shared his thoughts on the E3 2021 plan that was recently leaked–and he’s not very excited about it.
In an interview with GamerTag Radio, Fils-Aime said the ESA–which organizes E3 every year–is on the right track by making E3 2021 a digital show. However, the nature in which it has been described so far leaves a lot to be desired in Fils-Aime’s eyes. As the president of Nintendo of America, Fils-Aime sat at the table and worked alongside his industry peers to discuss a plan for E3, but he no longer works at Nintendo and is outside of those conversations. Still, Fils-Aime said he has a number of ideas for how E3 2021 could go ahead as a digital show, with publishers and fans alike getting something good out of it.
“I think that E3 as an event and a moment in time where new content is shared and celebrated, I think that is truly magical for the global games business,” he said. “I saw the same [leaked E3 2021 plans], and look, I’m outside of those meetings, I’m outside of the discussions, but I have to say: what I read, to me, doesn’t sound all that compelling. If I were king for a day, I’ll tell ya how I would do it. I do think doing this digitally is absolutely right, and the reason for that is, there is more than the 60,000 people who would typically attend an E3, there are millions more interested in finding out what’s going on.”
A key part of what makes E3 a compelling show–at least in recent years when fans were allowed in–is that it serves as the first opportunity for fans to try out new games. How can they do that from home? Fils-Aime doesn’t have an answer, but that’s something the publishers would be smart to develop a plan for, he said.
“Executing an event digitally is way to bring that to life. So that’s the right track. Having said that, I think that the platform-holders need to find a way digitally to enable their fans, their players, to experience the content,” Fils-Aime said. “That’s the key for E3. The ability to be playing the Last of Us Part 3 for the first time. Or to play that next Breath of the Wild game for the first time. Or to play the next great game coming from the new amalgamation of all of the new Xbox studios. To play for the first time is what’s magical. The platform-holders need to figure out how to deliver that experience to their fans, during an E3-like digital experience. I think that would be huge. What I’ve read [about E3 2021] doesn’t go down that path.”
The E3 2021 proposal–which is not final or confirmed–doesn’t address this issue, Fils-Aime said. Also in the interview, Fils-Aime said if the ESA cannot come up with a good enough plan to convince publishers to sign up (and pay a fee, too), then others will step in. In fact, Geoff Keighley already did this in 2020 with his Summer of Games event, and it’s coming back this year.
“If you don’t have all of these different elements working together–the big announcements, the hands-on, the opportunity in a well-defined timeframe to have all of these announcements–I think that’s what’s key to a successful E3 in the future,” he said. “Candidly, if the ESA doesn’t do it, then other people will. Geoff Keighley did something very provocative last year with his Summer of Games event. He’s going to do something similar this year. So if the ESA doesn’t figure out how to do this, someone else will.”
The ESA has officially confirmed that it plans to host a “transformed” version of E3 this year in June, but the specifics about the event have not been revealed. A leaked slide deck that is reportedly being sent to publishers states that E3 2021 will be a big three-day virtual event with streamed game demos, panel showcases, keynote events, and more, all happening online.
The ESA confirmed some changes in a statement, which mentioned ongoing conversations with publishers are taking place before a formal announcement of the show soon.
“We can confirm that we are transforming the E3 experience for 2021 and will soon share exact details on how we’re bringing the global video game community together,” the statement reads. “We are having great conversations with publishers, developers and companies across the board, and we look forward to sharing details about their involvement soon.”
Fils-Aime is now involved with charity initiatives, while he also sits on the board of directors at GameStop, Spin Master, and Brunswick.