Streamers and YouTube creators are attending E3 2017 in record numbers, and that’s creating a bit of tension on the show floor. With bigger media outlets and streamers jockeying for the same demos and access, these growing pains are only natural, but it’s important to keep in mind that democratizing access at E3 is ultimately a good thing for gamers.
Since the event is open to the public for the first time, fans, streamers, and content creators who may not have large enough followings to qualify for press access are able to enjoy the biggest gaming event of the year right alongside big media outlets. At a few pre-show events, some publishers set aside streamer-centric seating right alongside the press.
This has, of course, ruffled some feathers, but game publishers getting friendly with streamers is not going to herald the death of the traditional media or journalism, or any of the other apocalyptic predictions made since Bethesda stopped sending early review copies of its games to big media outlets.
The barriers between the people making games and the people playing them are getting thinner and thinner.
Keep in mind, we’ve seen these arguments before. Remember when those dastardly bloggers started getting invited to press-only events — back when LiveJournal was the hot new platform? Exactly.
Publishers may see streamers as a killer marketing opportunity at E3 2017, but there’s another big opportunity here, and it’s all about gamers. Access is a two-way street. Game publishers and developers that reach out to streamers are also giving them access to developers, news, and games that otherwise would be reserved for fewer eyes. That means big game publishers are more directly accountable to their fans.
The barriers between the people making games and the people playing them are getting thinner and thinner, and that makes feedback and criticism more difficult for publishers and developers to avoid. They’re exposed to a plurality of voices, with diverse backgrounds and perspectives that they otherwise may not have heard (or had a reason to listen to).
Streaming is ubiquitous. It’s big enough, and popular enough, that every major tech company is trying to get in on the action — or keep their share of it. Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are all pushing their livestreaming platforms, while Amazon continues to dominate with its incredibly popular Twitch platform.
Rather than ignore this captive audience which commands immense influence and buying power, companies like Bethesda, Intel, and other exhibitors at this year’s E3 are making sure they include fans, enthusiasts, and streamers in their efforts to promote their products.
That means carving out access for streamers and YouTube content creators, in addition to traditional media outlets. It’s ruffled some feathers on the show floor, as streamers are getting the kind of access usually reserved for the press, but that’s not what matters to gamers. Everyone now has a seat on the couch, and that’s awesome.
Inclusive over exclusive
Opening E3 up for streamers and welcoming the public means longer lines and bigger crowds to navigate. It might also mean the loss of some exclusive access. In the long run, though, inclusion is never a bad thing.
In the long run, inclusion is never a bad thing.
E3 is about video games. People who play games should have a stake in what’s going on here, whether that’s through a media outlet like Digital Trends, or through their favorite streamer. The end goal is the same. Gamers want to find their new favorite game.
Press or public, we’re all here for the same reasons; because we’re passionate about games, because we want to see what’s coming out in the coming year. So, even though lines are longer, and our access might not be as exclusive as it used to be, let’s try to be remember we’re all here for the same reason.
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