Liam @ E3

E3… Where developers, publishers, journalists and more come together to celebrate another year ahead for the gaming world. One of the biggest and most exciting moments of the year, with gameplay reveals, new announcements and all-round general buzz for video games.

I’ve been watching the E3 live streams, like millions of others, for the last 4-5 years. I’d stay up until the early hours of the morning making sure I didn’t miss any of the shows. This was the year that changed and I was right there, in sunny Los Angeles attending E3 for the very first time.

I’d sorted out various invites to press conferences and parties, the chance to get hands on with some of the big games and network with industry faces. For me the conference I most enjoyed was PlayStation’s. It was more than just a press conference, it was a show. A live orchestra, extended screen displays and a very special guest bought it to life. A room filled with passionate PlayStation fans that erupted from the very beginning when Sony opened with the global announcement of a new God of War game. I knew we were in for a good show, and PlayStation didn’t disappoint. PlayStation also managed to generate my interest in VR gaming. Virtual reality wasn’t something I had previously been excited for; I saw it falling outside of my price range and room space needed to play and enjoy. Seeing PlayStation VR announce a whole host of titles I recognised, an affordable price tag and a 2016 release date… I suddenly felt very interested.

One thing I noticed at this year’s E3 compared to other gaming conventions was the amount of virtual reality booths. Dedicated areas for the likes of Samsung, Oculus Rift, PlayStation and even small developers to showcase their advancements within the VR world. There has been presence at events previously but not on the same scale with live demonstrations and hands on opportunities.  It will be interesting to see how big this area of gaming becomes over the next year and how much bigger the spaces on the show floor become. Will I be getting myself a VR headset for gaming in the next 12 months? It’s hard to say, but top of my list at the moment has to be PlayStation VR.

Another interesting part of E3 I noticed was the presence of a non-gaming brand getting involved with eSports. T-Mobile partnered up with pro team “Cloud9” to offer fans the chance to play the newly released Overwatch against their professional roster. This was all taking place on a T-Mobile branded booth, live streamed on Twitch.tv all in the name of #DefenderOfData. Samsung also held various eSports events on their booth, which featured mobile games played at professional level on their handsets in front of a live crowd. It was another sign that made me realise what potential UK brands have to do something similar in this space.  

Amongst the E3 news last week there was a big announcement for the UK eSports industry. “GINX eSports TV” will be the UK’s first 24-hour eSports TV channel, aiming to bring competitive gaming to the mainstream audience. Sky TV will help support this move by listing the channel in their very own sports section guide. ITV are also looking to get involved with the new GINX channel so with both these names behind it, we could see some real results. The channel is set to become available to 37m households, a huge pool of viewers who’ll soon have eSports content available 24-hours a day at the flick of a button. While this won’t take away the attention these eSports tournaments already receive through sites like Twitch and YouTube, it allows more people access to this content and unlocks room for higher viewing figures.

Over in the U.S, the Counter Strike “ELeague” tournament recently made its way to a Friday night spot on a cable television channel. This will be one of the first tournaments broadcasted on UK TV through GINX. This is a really interesting move for the industry, with global eSports content becoming available 24-hours a day. As an existing eSports fan this doesn’t really interest me as the content I want to watch will still come through the online channels I use most, however I fully see how new fans will be pulled in through this route.  A mix of general sports fans and casual gamers could find themselves flicking over their TV channel and getting their first experience of an eSports broadcast. It won’t be instant but it will certainly raise curiosity and awareness. Next step… eSports broadcasts being shown in bars and pubs? It’s already started happening around the world, one day I hope to see it happen in the UK.

As a passionate gamer being present at one of the world’s biggest gaming events has been a dream come true. I’ve seen spectacular live shows, been one of the few people lucky enough to get hands on with new games so early and of course I’ve partied hard… all in the celebration of video games. With big moves and announcements in VR, eSports and gaming in general, I am very excited to be a part of it.   

Liam Thompson, Gaming and Influencer Executive