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Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest will have 30 to 40 game announcements including some surprises. The Summer Game Fest has become a replacement for the usual trade event that signals to us the games that are coming in the next year or so.
In an interview with GamesBeat, Keighley said the fest will have a good and growing share of summer announcements in part because Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) isn’t taking place this year. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA, the publisher trade group that owns E3) canceled its expo in Los Angeles in part because of the pandemic. But the reality is also that Keighley’s all-digital Summer Game Fest, which last year garnered more than 25 million viewers, grabbed the best announcements.
While it isn’t as big a mess as it was in the past two summers, the announcements coming this summer have fallen into different boats, said Keighley, who has amassed the audience that the game industry needs to reach.
First-party online events include Sony’s State of Play event yesterday and Microsoft’s Xbox showcase on June 12. Those events allow the big platform owners to give their own games plenty of love as well as show off third-party titles. We will see games like Starfield at the Xbox showcase, Keighley said.
Many of the third-party game publisher events like EA Play have fallen by the wayside. And Keighley said he offers the Summer Game Fest as a way from cross-platform third-party games to announce titles in a neutral event that doesn’t favor any single platform. So this year, the summer is probably less in a state of mess than GamesBeat’s Jeff Grubb has articulated. We’re seeing a semblance of order.
And without the competition from even an online E3 this year, Keighley should have a lot to choose from when it comes to the biggest announcements of the year. In addition to his Summer Game Fest, he also does the Opening Night Live event at Gamescom in Germany in August and The Game Awards in December. Both little independent game studios and huge companies will make announcements.
“That’s what I love to curate, a show that has some elements of discovery as well as some bangers as the kids like to say that people are excited to look at,” Keighley said.
I asked if it would end with a bang. Keighley said, “Yeah. We had a good surprise last year and, hopefully, we will have something good this year. We are trying to figure out a new way to do these things. We are post-pandemic in some ways. We haven’t gotten to go to an event and check games out for 2.5 years. We are experimenting with new ways to experience some things without a massive convention center.”
This year’s show could be two hours or more, but it depends on whether some announcements get added or fall out of the show.
“We had a good surprise last year [with the gameplay reveal for Elden Ring, the most popular game of the year] and we may have some surprises this year,” Keighley said. “It’s more that than shock and awe and wall-to-wall news.”
The Summer Game Fest will have some physical presence. More of the presenters and guests will gather on a studio stage to make their announcements. And Keighley has invited game players and influencers to try out games in person during the days following the fest.
About 30 IMAX theaters in the US and Canada will broadcast the Summer Game Fest live, bringing people together physically in theaters for a shared celebration. Keighley doesn’t view all of this as an E3 replacement, and he still maintains communication with the ESA.
The Summer Game Fest takes a few months to put together, but it isn’t as complicated as putting together The Game Awards. Coupled with the Gamescom event, that’s all the bandwidth Keighley has.
I asked if Keighley would eventually have a 50,000-person trade show to go with his Summer Game Fest.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I don’t think that is the direction things are going. I think we will be nimble and digital. I don’t think the idea of one massive hub location makes a ton of sense. That was the trade show model. Post-pandemic, the idea of people lining up for hours to play a demo of a game doesn’t make as much sense. We have things like xCloud and other ways to show games now. I think we will have a digital-first brand.”
As an example, The Game Awards went all digital and left the world of TV behind. Why would he think about going back to TV, Keighley said. The Game Awards enabled people all over the world to watch game reveals at the same time. That said, he said he will do whatever the publishers want him to do.
Then we have the matter of the other Jeff. This tale of two Jeffs/Geoffs has a bastard son.
As a coda, I would like to acknowledge the contributions to GamesBeat over the past decade or so by Jeff Grubb, who is moving on to a new job. When Jeff came to us through Bitmob, he was a whippersnapper.
Since then, Jeff has made some phenomenal contributions that have helped put GamesBeat on the map. He is a talented game reviewer and knows how to figure out the finer points of gaming hardware. He has become quite a sleuth at figuring out the slate of upcoming announcements from game companies, and that has earned him a following on social media. While I was the elder journalist on staff, I have to say I learned a lot from Jeff. Angry and bitter PR people tell us Jeff loves making things up. But nobody is perfect. I tried to get Jeff fired many times for thwarting my plan to name Call of Duty the Game of the Year and for destroying our 100-point review score system.
As much as we like to tease him about looking like Jon Snow in Game of Thrones and his various barbarian habits, we will miss him and his squeaky little kids on Zoom calls. We will not miss trying to get him off Twitter long enough to join our weekly meetings.
I wish him the best of luck at his new employer, and I hope his bosses soon realize what a mistake they have made, so they can return him to us. Please join me in saying farwell and thank you to Jeff. If anyone is curious, let it be known we fired Jeff for insubordination for informing us he was quitting to join another publication.
We now have a GamesBeat writer opening (please apply) the size of Jon Snow’s sword.
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