There were a few big titles, such as The Last of Us remake and Modern Warfare 2, among the games on show at Summer Game Fest, but it only made us feel even more keenly how many we were missing…
I admit expectations were high. Even though the organisers of Summer Game Fest had indicated a few days before the event, we should only expect fresh content from the games already announced and not too many surprise announcements. Nevertheless, there was plenty to look forward to at the gaming event, which was packed with bombastic news and memorable trailers. Especially when Geoff Keighley has been singing [his] own] praises and mystery games for months with this event, which replaces the cancelled E3 2022.
Summer Game Fest has fallen into the same mistake we have been criticising for years
While there were some exciting announcements and quality trailers, Summer Game Fest fell into the same mistake we’ve been criticising (and suffering) for years: if there’s nothing interesting to see, don’t host a nearly two-hour event! Because the highlights were once again lost in a flood of minor announcements and not particularly interesting presentations that ultimately ruined what should have been the big video game party of the summer. Is there anything to talk about? Yes, quite a lot! But ultimately, when you talk to your colleagues and read the comments from fans, the feeling seems to be universal: Summer Game Fest didn’t live up to expectations.
The evening started off well with the first Street Fighter 6 fight, where we got to see Guile in action, although the announcement obviously lost momentum, considering that Capcom had already surprised us with a spectacular announcement trailer at the State of Play a few days ago. Completely unexpected was the following title, a new Aliens game, this time developed by the makers of the remarkable Battlefleet Gothic Armada. Like their previous titles, it’s an action and strategy game with an isometric perspective that didn’t go down well with all fans of the cinematic saga.
The other one we saw a few days ago was the promising The Callisto Protocol, which surprised us again with an extended trailer, even more violent than the original, and the first gameplay footage of what the new game from one of the fathers of Dead Space looks like. Modern Warfare 2 also featured an extended gameplay video, but as in previous instances, we got our first glimpse of the game a few hours earlier, so the impact was less of an impact.
Lots of announcements, not all particularly interesting
It’s undeniable that there were a good handful of announcements scattered throughout the nearly two-hour duration of Summer Game Fest, but there were so many of them that there comes a point when you switch off and barely pay attention to what’s being shown. And that’s the worst thing that can happen at an event like this. There were long-awaited comebacks like Witchfire, which we finally got to see in action again; there were super interesting games like Fort Solis, a narrative adventure game set on Mars; a gameplay trailer for Marvel’s Midnight Suns, a new release from Firaxis Games, and even the announcement of Goat Simulator 3 (there was never a sequel), which is probably one of the most absurd and funny trailers of the year.
No bombshells, no surprises
Despite all of this, Geoff Keighley’s event lacked the punch you’d expect from such an event. There were no bombshells, no surprises, no announcements that would have made up for the two hours in front of the screen. And the worst thing was that the last big announcement, the megaton that we always expect at an event like this, was leaked a few hours before the official launch. What happened? The fact that the remake of The Last of Us was held as the closing event of Summer Game Fest took even more power away from the outcome. Even so, not to end the chronicle negatively, we’re in for a delightful few months with the number of games still to come. However, it does hurt to say goodbye to yet another event with a bittersweet taste in our mouths. They do not seem to learn.
Next year, same place, in person
There was a more significant piece of news at the end of the Summer Game Fest 2022 live stream, however, when Keighley unveiled the schedule of upcoming events, including the Devolver Digital live stream and the Xbox & Bethesda Showcase. Keighley said that in addition to the digital showcase, Summer Game Fest 2023 will be a “digital and in-person event that will bring the gaming community together” in June 2023. He didn’t reveal any other information about what this might involve, possibly saving it for Gamescom Opening Night Live in August or the 2022 Game Awards in December.
Keighley’s announcement is a big deal for the video games industry because, as GamesIndustry’s James Batchelor pointed out, ESA president Stan Pierre-Louis has said that E3 will return in 2023. Pierre-Louis told The Washington Post that ESA is currently planning to hold E3 2023 as both a digital and in-person event in June, which would be the first full E3 event since 2019, making the Summer Game Fest a bit pointless.
It’s worth noting that the dates are not yet known, and given Geoff Keighley’s track record and industry connections, it’s unlikely that his event would directly compete with the E3 relaunch.
It wouldn’t be surprising if ESA worked with Keighley and used one of the shows to launch one of the gaming world’s most significant months, as the two parties did in 2021, albeit on a much larger scale.