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Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest will feature 30 to 40 game announcements, including some surprises. The Summer Game Fest has become a substitute for the usual trade event signaling us the games coming up in the next year or so.
In an interview with GamesBeat, Keighley said the festival will have a good and growing share of summer announcements, partly because the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) isn’t happening this year. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA, the Publisher Trade Group that owns E3) has canceled its Los Angeles trade show in part because of the pandemic. But the reality is also that Keighley’s all-digital Summer Game Fest, which attracted more than 25 million viewers last year, made the best announcements.
While it’s not as big a mess as it’s been the past two summers, the announcements coming this summer have gotten into different boats, said Keighley, who has amassed the audience the games industry needs to reach.
First-party online events include Sony’s State of Play event yesterday and Microsoft’s Xbox Showcase on June 12th. These events allow the big platform owners to give lots of love to their own games and showcase third-party titles. We’ll 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’s offering Summer Game Fest as a way for third-party cross-platform games to announce titles in a neutral event that doesn’t favor any single platform. So this year, summer is likely less of a mess than GamesBeat’s Jeff Grubb articulated. We see some semblance of order.
And even without the competition of an online E3 this year, Keighley should have plenty to choose from when it comes to the biggest announcements of the year. In addition to his Summer Game Fest, he also hosts the Opening Night Live event at Gamescom in Germany in August and The Game Awards in December. Both small independent game studios and large corporations will be making announcements.
“That’s what I like to curate, a show that has some elements of discovery as well as some bangers, as the kids like to say, that people like to watch,” Keighley said.
I asked if it would end with a bang. Keighley said, “Yes. We had a good surprise last year and hope we will have something good this year. We’re trying to find a new way to do these things. We are in a way post-pandemic. We haven’t been able to go to an event and try games in 2.5 years. We’re experimenting with new ways to experience some things without a huge convention center.”
This year’s show could run for two hours or more, but it depends on some announcements being added or dropped from the show.
“Last year we had a nice surprise [with the gameplay reveal for Elden Ring, the most popular game of the year] and we could have some surprises this year,” Keighley said. “It’s more than just shock and awe and comprehensive news.”
The Summer Game Fest will be physically present. Other presenters and guests will gather on a studio stage to make their announcements. And Keighley has invited gaming journalists and influencers to try out games in person in the days following the fest.
Approximately 30 IMAX theaters across the US and Canada will broadcast the Summer Game Fest live, bringing people together physically in theaters for a celebration. Keighley doesn’t see any of this as an E3 replacement, and he’s still in touch with ESA.
The Summer Game Fest takes a few months to put together, but it’s not as complicated as the Game Awards put together. Coupled with the Gamescom event, that’s all the range Keighley has.
I asked if Keighley would eventually host a 50,000-person mass for his Summer Game Fest.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I don’t think things are going in that direction. I think we will be agile and digital. I don’t think the idea of a giant hub site makes much sense. That was the fair model. Post-pandemic, the notion of people queuing for hours to play a game’s demo doesn’t make as much sense anymore. We now have things like xCloud and other ways to show games. I think we will have a digital-first brand.”
For example, The Game Awards went completely digital, leaving the world of television behind. Why would he consider returning to television, Keighley said. The Game Awards allowed people around the world to watch game reveals at the same time. That said, he said he’ll do whatever the editors ask of him.
Then we have the other Jeff thing. This story of two Jeffs/Geoffs has a bastard son.
As a coda, I would like to acknowledge the contributions to GamesBeat over the past decade by Jeff Grubb, who is moving to a new role at GameSpot/Giant Bomb. When Jeff came to us via Bitmob, he was a maniac.
Since then, Jeff has made some phenomenal contributions that have helped spread the word about GamesBeat. He’s a talented games critic and knows how to figure out the intricacies of gaming hardware. He’s become quite the sleuth when it comes to figuring out the list of upcoming game company announcements, and that’s earned him a following on social media. While I was the senior journalist on the team, I have to say I learned a lot from Jeff. Angry and bitter PR guys tell us that Jeff loves to make things up. But nobody is perfect. I have tried to fire Jeff many times for foiling my plan to make Call of Duty game of the year and destroying our 100 point rating system.
As much as we like to tease him for looking like Jon Snow in Game of Thrones and with his various barbaric habits, we’ll miss him and his squeaky little kids on Zoom calls. We won’t fail to get him off Twitter long enough to attend our weekly meetings.
I wish him the best of luck in his new employer and hope that his bosses will soon realize what a mistake they made so they can bring him back to us. Please say goodbye with me and thank Jeff. If anyone is curious, let them know that we fired Jeff for insubordination for telling us he was quitting to join another publication.
We now have a GamesBeat author opening (please apply) the greatness of Jon Snow’s sword.
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