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E3 2020 leaks make the show sound terrible already

E3 was once the show to end all gaming shows. It was the only event worth caring about; the one every company saved its important announcements for. And if you were a kid during E3's prime — and you dreamed of covering video games — it was your Disneyland. It was the place you hoped you'd eventually get to go to someday.

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

We're starting to suspect E3 2020 is going to look a lot different next year, based on leaked information obtained by GameDaily. Think of a show that is not an industry convention but is, according to leaked ESA slides, "a fan, media, and influencer festival." Famous people are poised to play a much bigger role during E3 2020, with examples stating you could see the Los Angeles Lakers play the next NBA 2K title in front of a live audience, or see famous actors and actresses duke it out in celebrity tournament.

Not only that, leaked presentation slides are giving us a glimpse into what the ESA hopes to accomplish with E3. The group is leaning hard into the words "engagement" and "queuetainment," for instance; the latter of which is probably every bit as dreadful as it sounds. And the slides also give us a look at the seedy underbelly of the E3 marketing machine. Long story short: if you've ever felt cynical about the games industry, this might not help.

There will be one industry-only day for next year's E3, and two days that are open to all comers. The ESA wants large lounges to take over the floor, so that attendees can celebrate "community, brands, and engagement." That queuetainment term we spoke of earlier? It's apparently designed to "enable marketing to attendees" who are waiting in line for a demo. Gross.

Oh, and the ESA wants to focus more on social good during E3 so it can start "storing positive chits for future use." What kind of future use? Apparently pushing the organization's policy goals, or helping it diffuse the "next negative video game story." Yep, here is the ESA saying the quiet part out loud: it wants to engage in social good because it'll help the organization look better, or help it accomplish something beneficial somewhere down the line. There's even talk about using "social good components" to lure NBA players or movie stars to E3. Neat.

There are some other eye-roll-worthy bits and pieces; helping exhibitors create "exclusive/appointment-only activations for select attendees who will create buzz and FOMO" comes to mind. But really, none of it sounds all that great. This doesn't sound like a place to go to learn about video games, or even celebrate video games. It sounds like a carnival. We don't see anything here that would bring EA back to the show, or would get Nintendo to stop doing Directs. If anything, this evolution of E3 makes it seem as though those companies made the right choice by scaling back.

Anyway, we'll have to wait and see who ultimately attends and how the show runs this year. E3 2020 kicks off on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. We'll be here but probably not there, and thank goodness.