It's the summertime again and I'm here with Stan Pierre Louis from the Entertainment Software association to talk about the E three Expo, their big video game show to talk about all the major games coming out this fall.
So I think probably the most interesting thing I was I always like to talk about when it comes to Talking about, III and trade shows in general, is the conversation about why have them in the first place?
I think that still even if we take out the pandemic for a moment there's III and see as for the biggest Tech trade shows that are really And so I'm curious, kind of if we could talk a little bit to why we're still holding them in this day and age and how you kind of feel about the value that they bring to the community and to the companies.
Well, first, thanks for having me in talking about a three, because obviously we're excited about the show that's about to start June 12th-15th.
All digital this year.
I think the relevance of E3 is that it creates an opportunity to coalesce around games.
One of the things we saw last year, having had to cancel because of the pandemic, and having seen the experience of seeing amazing presentations throughout the summer, Was it both fans and media, were looking for a center of gravity in which to really learn what was going to be showcased in the coming year.
It's not always easy to do that, because cycles of game development can change and what we saw last year for many companies was it changed in part because of the pandemic and having to figure out how to work from home and develop from home.
But still, I think people were looking for inability to say this is the event where I can learn the most, which isn't to say, it has to be exclusive, but it does mean that when you're able to bring people together to Showcase those things at one time, there's value and that's true, whether it's physical or digital.
Now, one of the things we have been doing for several years with <inaudible> is experimenting with how do we keep it relevant and exciting?
You know, Ethan, we started off as you well know, as an opportunity for game developers and platform creators to speak to retailers, physical retailers on here's what's coming down the pike for the end of the year sales.</inaudible> Now that digital downloads have grown so much physical is still important still happens.
But now that you can distribute works in a physical format and now that streaming is this new opportunity, burgeoning to, to become a leading platform for for fans.
The Cycles change in how you present those things but there's always still in need to have this opportunity to gather and connect.
What physical does unlike digital is it allows you to come together and and really convene in a special way in a very interactive way.
Digital allows you to do that too.
And we'll be experimenting with some of that this year.
But it's a very different experience.
And we think both are valuable.
And so we'll continue to experiment and in fact, we'll take what we learned from this year, all digital event to apply it to physical events because the audience has really broadened from retailers to More of the media, more fans more influencers and so trying to reach those audiences, particularly on a global basis requires a global tool and global reach.
So I'm assuming if all goes well with vaccines you guys are planning to be in person next year.
We anticipate having a physical show.
And we think there's a lot of value in having that physical show and bringing the digital elements to it.
We're doing what everyone else does, which is watch the news every day and see where we are.
We've had tremendous progress in this country.
We're seeing other countries start to really have progress as well and all those things Really feeling to any physical event you're gonna have in the United States, because so many of our industries, including our global, and just require a lot of advanced thinking and planning and logistics to make those things possible.
It turns out that Los Angeles and California is gonna open up June 15 in a much broader way.
So we couldn't have had a physical show this year in the way that we would have anticipated.
We are seeing people start to have conventions and, and meetings.
Those don't require the same logistics of any three of bringing booths and so many people from around the world to make things work.
So it's a it's an enterprise and you've got to plan several months in advance to make that work.
So we'll be monitoring things, you know, starting right after this heat break.
Well, sounds good I for one hope that we're able to safely rejoin re gather again.
I always enjoy going there.
So I'm curious when we think about the pandemic and kind of video game culture broadly One of the things I find really fascinating was and this this popped up really as everyone was going into lockdown, was how valuable video games were to a lot of people, right?
As an entertainment form, as an escape, as a way to even socialize with friends right through stuff like fortnight.
So I'm curious.
What do you think is going to change as kind of the world comes back into whatever normal is?
Do you think that people are going to look at video games differently?
Do you think that the level of education the world needs about how video games work and what they do for everybody needs to change?
Or I don't know what, but how do you think that kind of the trajectory of the industry has changed as a result of all of this?
We wanna live in a world that's back to as much normal as possible.
And so we embrace the opportunity to start meeting with people, one on one, whether it's at three, or in daily life and so that's exciting to us.
We saw a trend of video games growing in terms of engagement and revenues for more than a decade.
Obviously there was a surge this past year with the pandemic and more people playing.
We think the trend will continue this year, even if it's not at the same levels of 2020.
And I think what we are hoping that means is that people come out of it, appreciating games.
Many have experimented lots of different games.
Maybe they tried Xbox game pass and streamed a bunch of games and went, I wanna continue playing that.
So we think engaging will be strong.
And I also think that because of the experience people had with games, it made them more attuned to this art form and what it does the fact that you gain empathy when you're playing You learn well, and you connect with people.
And, also the thought about what is a game has, has more for many people because playing bridge or Scrabble online, you may not think of it as a video game, but it created an understanding of why people are connecting through video games and we've noticed it in our advocacy.
The ESA serves primarily as the voice and advocate For the US video game industry, and so we talked to policymakers at the national and state level, and everyone saw the impact of games in their lives, they saw their kids connecting with their cousins through gameplay, irrespective of age group, and they tried different games out and I think there's an understanding that games are really a powerful tool.
And also they saw How beautiful they like when you walk into a room and you think it's a football game or a soccer game or football if you're in Europe and South America in other parts of the world, and it's a video game, but the graphics are so beautiful.
I think there are also these little subtle things like the NBA using video games sound For crowd noise to create more of that excitement, we talked about live versus digital events and, and they wanted it not to look like open gym and so they use crowd noise for video games during the playoffs.
So more and more video games came into our lives in different ways for different vectors and created a deeper understanding which we're noticing and how people think about things.
And I'm curious, you know, one of the things I think came up in the last, I'll call it the last four or five years, is that when we think of education and advocacy, right, the thing one of the things esa really does a lot of.
It felt like whenever there was a conversation in Washington DC around video games that there's still not fully an understanding either in the White House with the previous resident or on Capitol Hill of the value of video games, right and the pluses or minuses or even.
The conversations around, concerns around violence and everything.
So, how do you feel like that is needing to change?
Because it seems like at least the message hasn't really fully gotten through with the people who make those kinds of decisions.
We've seen an evolution in how policy makers make it about games.
You mentioned the violence issue Each media form has faced this, going back, you know, decades and we certainly face it in the 90s and 2000's of people looking at video games in this negative light over time, what we've learned is that people are opened up to the value of games in new and different ways.
One of the things We pointed out over the past few years in Washington is that the same video games sold in the United States are sold all around the world.
But the gun violence issue that occurs in on states isn't replicated in other places around the world even though the same video games are sold in all these places around the world.
That seems to have really resonated with people on understanding that games don't necessarily have this negative implication.
Now when you're talking about Okay, how do you convert that understanding about games into the value proposition that they bring, and part of our job is to ensure that policymakers understand that video games Yes, provide empathy.
And yes, they also create these great learning opportunities.
We also create jobs.
And the economic impact of video games is enormous in the United States.
We put out a report in December that showed that the economic effect of just video games from 2019 Was around 40 billion.
And then when you add in ancillary industries, suppliers and others who support industry or who we rely on in some way, it grows to more than 90 billion.
And if you look at job growth, it's just enormous.
We have a triple effect.
It's sort of multiplier effect of every job we create in our industry creates three more jobs in another industry because of the needs that we have.
In manufacturing and sales and all these other things that really resonated with policymakers and so depending on who you're talking to, it may be the intrinsic quality of games.
It may be the artistic value, but it also may be the fact that from an economic standpoint, we're having an impact.
And we're ensuring that that really floats up and down the value chain in a number of ways.
So I think those sorts of things make people understand it.
Then broadly speaking, when you think about international trade, we are a global industry.
So we're starting to have more of an impact on those discussions around.
How do you treat intellectual property when it's exported to different jurisdictions.
So, more and more policymakers are viewing video games as an important sector.
In thinking about our global economy,>> And you mentioned Xbox game pass, I think that's one of the other things I've been really fascinated by is subscriptions.
There's there's kind of this growth of the subscription market and it's not like we didn't have them before, but If I think about all the subscriptions I have now, I've got one from Xbox, I've got one from Sony, I can get one from Nintendo, not to mention Apple and Google are doing it now.
You could get a subscription for Fortnight individually.
And then not to mention there are also all these other subscriptions out there for HBO, or Netflix, or everything else.
Where is this all going?
Is there a sense that everything is becoming a subscription now and is that how the future of all of this is gonna go?
Or do you think at some point people are gonna be like, okay, here are the ones that are gonna be the main ones and then we're gonna be able to do niche ones or I don't know what but it feels like we're in subscription mania these days.
I think that there's a lot of experimentation going on because consumers want to access games in lots of different ways.
And, and some of these have proven to already be really successful and others are still building their audiences.
There are always opportunities to enhance that engagement.
I think subscriptions is one Now I think for subscription services, particularly when you think about the big triple A games, they really rely on having strong broadband deployment in an environment and I think that's the scale issue that they will face.
We've seen a lot of work done politically in the US, at least in trying to increase broadband deployment.
I think that's what's gonna help that growth.
But, in terms of whether we gonna have a lot subscriptions, I think the market will let us know which subscriptions they liked or not.
I mean, there was a moment where we saw a lot of consolidated subscriptions through cable, and the like, and now many of those Being dispersed.
And I think it's just a matter of which ones really hit it with consumers.
And those will be the ones that really have those staying power.
Well, thanks for talking with us, Stan.
And if you want to learn more about the E three Expo, go to CNET.
com, where we'll be talking about all the major announcements and all the new video games coming out this year.