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What the Tech: E3 2021 was a big letdown, and here’s why

The annual gaming convention was another big disappointment this year, but why did it once again fail to live up to expectations?

The date is marked on the calendar in advance, the rumours swirl around, expectations heighten to giddy levels and yet the big event is ultimately as exciting as a punctured bouncy castle. This cycle of spin seems to happen every year with E3, but does 2021’s event in particular really deserve our disappointment?

Yes, it does.

Part of the problem with this event is that without an in-person component and the live audience that accompanies it, we are subjected to flat presentations that fail to build excitement and simply fall on their face. That’s nobody’s fault; and in fact it’s a credit to the organisers that they take the pandemic so seriously, but it does still amount to a heavy downpour of rain on the virtual parade.

Nonetheless, it was substance as well as style that was missing from E3 2021.

Sony continued its non-attendance of the event, which dates from 2018, and when the company behind the mega-popular PS5 doesn’t bother to show up to the world’s biggest video game conference, that’s a sure sign that the event has lost some of its lustre.

Nintendo barely fared much better than its fellow Japanese brand, with just one big announcement; The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2. Even though it looks like another excellent addition to the series, we had to be content with just a few minutes of gameplay, and will have to wait until some time in 2022 for the finished product to arrive. It seems that even Nintendo is now pulling its punches at E3 and will only make the big announcements *cough* the Nintendo Switch Pro *cough* on its own schedule. If ever.

Microsoft, however, pulled out all the stops for a much better showing. Boasting such big hitters as Forza 5 Horizon, Halo Infinite, Starfield, Redfall and more, and flexing the value of Game Pass membership for day one releases of those triple-A titles, it wasn’t difficult for Microsoft overtake its competitors and race into pole position with ease. After the somewhat disappointing lack of exclusives upon release, the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S now look like very tempting prospects.

One good showing from one company pales into comparison to the extravaganza that E3 is supposed to be, but frankly that could well be the problem.

Instead of expecting all games companies to release their biggest announcements all at once in the space of a few heady days, let’s move on to a more adaptable schedule where each company can have its own moment in the sun as and when it chooses. Otherwise, we’re just liable to be crushed under the weight of our own misguided expectations once again.

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