EA won't hold a traditional E3 press conference, focusing on streams instead

The company is reworking its EA Play fan event this year to focus on individual livestreams.

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EA is trying to change the game.

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Electronic Arts is rethinking the way it'll make big announcements when the E3 video game conference rolls around this summer.

Typically, game developers like EA, Microsoft and Sony hold splashy press conferences in the days before the start of E3, the world's largest video game expo. Increasingly, companies have been getting kiddish. Nintendo stopped holding a traditional press conference in 2013; then this year Sony said it wouldn't hold one either. Now EA says it's going to change the format of its big game announcements.

In the run-up to E3, the company will still be holding its EA Play fan festival, which has taken place in Los Angeles since 2016. But instead of a traditional press conference to kick off the event, as it's done before, the company plans to make announcements during a series of livestreams, it said in a Thursday blog post.

"This year you'll see less talk and more play, with an event entirely focused on the heartbeat of EA Play: Our player communities and the games they love," the company wrote.

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The change underscores how EA is attempting to find new ways to market to fans rather than relying on traditional press and advertising. 

One example came last month, when EA surprised the game world with the sudden release of Apex Legends, its newest competitor to Epic's Fortnite last-man-standing game. Typically, EA holds a big event and spends untold millions on print, digital and TV advertising for its big game releases. Apex Legends by comparison didn't have any prerelease marketing beforehand, but it became a sudden breakout hit anyway. 

EA was praised for refinements it brought to the "battle royale" genre, as it's known, such as an emphasis on competing in teams instead of playing alone. The game also offered a new way of communicating with other players, which cut down on potential harassment.

So far, Apex Legends has notched 50 million players in its first month.

It's a big change from EA's more traditional press conference last year. During that event, the company said it planned to compete with Fortnite by offering its own take on a battle royale mode in its Battlefield 5 World War II-themed shooting game. Other companies, like Activision, also revealed plans for competing with Fortnite, which ultimately were well-received but didn't put much of a dent in Fortnite's popularity.

EA also used its event to build hype for its Anthem online multiplayer shooting game, which was released in February to mixed reviews. Players in the game take control of people who use Iron Man-like suits, called javelines, to fly around and fight evil. The game's been beset with criticism and serious bugs in the weeks following its February launch.

Other announcements last year included an apology for the loot box debacle the company faced with its Star Wars: Battlefront 2 game. The company also announced a new mobile Command and Conquer: Rivals, which was criticized by some fans of the series who'd hoped for a more complex entry.

This year, we already know that one of EA's big hitters, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, will be unveiled at a Star Wars Celebration in Chicago next month, so we'll probably see more of that at its event. 

Watch this: How is Apex Legends different from Fortnite and PUBG?

CNET will be at E3 along with our sister sites GameSpot and Giant Bomb when press events begin June 8.

Originally published March 8, 3:18 a.m. PT.
Updates, 8:36 a.m.: Adds details throughout; 10:11 a.m.: Includes more detail about other press conferences.