It's hard to focus on video games at a time like this. Where we're in the middle of worldwide protests about police brutality and the need to ensure that Black Lives Matter, all during an ongoing pandemic that's taken a backseat in the news, but is still killing thousands in the United States. These games we play, these digital worlds we visit, sometimes have to take a backseat to our reality.
And yet, there's room for entertainment in these times. It's hard to be always "on" and sometimes you need something to take your mind off of the real world. That's why it's called escapism. There are far more important things to worry about, but video games are still an important keystone of our lives. It's okay to be excited for the PlayStation 5, the Xbox Series X at the moment. You can do two things, which is why I'm still ready for the beginning of faux-E3.
I've been doing this a long time. I started as a news writer at Industry Gamers back in 2010, before that site was merged with GamesIndustry.biz. I've covered E3 for most of those years, watching as the event has slowly ballooned outwards. Covering the event used to just be about the three days of E3 itself, but then it grew to cover the entire week.
This week would've marked the beginning of E3 2020, but the pandemic cut that short. E3 2020 is canceled, but that just means there's more time to reach players with the latest and greatest. Whereas before a publisher would've crammed its reveals in the same week to hit all the press and influencers at E3 proper, now there's far more. Everyone is going in their own direction.
Two weeks ago, there was the Wholesome Gaming stream event for a host of indies. Geoff Keighley's Summer Game Fest is ongoing. The IGN Summer of Gaming kicks off this week. This weekend will see Guerrilla Collective, the Future Games Show, and the PC Gaming Show, all streaming events covering various game announcements, and EA Play Live is coming next week. Behind the scenes, we've already attended a number of digital preview events. E3 was a pane of glass shattered by the hammer that is COVID-19, and now it's a million different shards that reflect all of gaming culture.
Everything changed so quickly, and everyone's trying to carve out their small space in your mind. Will Sony's PlayStation 5 leave a bigger impact than Microsoft did a few weeks ago with its Xbox showcase? We've seen little of the platform outside of a technical deep dive by system architect Mark Cerny and the DualSense controller, a gap Sony has a chance to finally fill. Will we see the system itself or get a price tag, or will Sony just be focusing on the games? These events will also see the rest of the gaming calendar being filled out, as October and beyond are currently bereft of any major releases. And where do these new announcements leave upcoming June releases like Disintegration, Desperados 3, or Ninjala?
These next two weeks will see the reveals that define the tenor for the rest of 2020 in the gaming industry. We're transitioning to a new generation, but neither Sony nor Microsoft have truly filled out what their vision of the next generation is. The platform holders have a fortnight to explain where they stand in the age of Fortnite. Right now, it feels like both are playing chicken, waiting to see who moves first so the other can one-up them.
E3 has always been a sprint, a consistent burst of wild energy for an entire week, followed by an utter collapse afterwards. Now that focus is gone. We'll see if this deluge of events has the same impact as E3's blitzkrieg of games. I'm already feeling a little fatigue and having a little trouble remembering everything coming down the pipeline; during the Wholesome Gaming event, I struggled to remember the games that interested me. It's all starting to blur together, even though there's more space between these announcements, not less.
E3 was already struggling heading into 2020, surpassed in excitement and mindshare by Gamescom and PAX, or publisher-centric events like PlayStation Experience and Xbox X019. The show has had issues finding its way across the last few years, trying to split the difference between trade show and consumer event. It took a further hit when it leaked the personal information of several media members last year.
Prior to E3 2020 being canceled this year, Sony had already pulled out for a second time. "We have great respect for the ESA as an organization, but we do not feel the vision of E3 2020 is the right venue for what we are focused on this year," a spokesperson told GI.biz at the time. At E3 2019, Activision skipped having a booth on the E3 showfloor. Electronic Arts abandoned E3 in 2016 for its own adjacent EA Play events.
If publishers and developers see equal returns to banding together and running their own digital events, why do they need to pay thousands of dollars to have floor space? We're long past the days of E3 being the valve through which all information flowed. YouTube and Twitch have changed the conversation. Any publisher has the resources to talk directly to their audience, to show them why their games matter. Media and influencers may provide context, but they're not needed.
Across a number of industries, the pandemic is accelerating situations that were on the horizon. Hollywood is tackling the split between theatrical releases and streaming services. Offices are coming to terms with the fact that maybe their workers don't need to be in a building to do their best work. And in gaming, the realization that perhaps we don't need E3 at all is beginning to firm up. Perhaps this faux E3 will be what finally kills the real thing; the tech event version of The Talented Mr. Ripley.
Major Game Releases: June 8 to June 12
Here are the major releases for the week of June 8 to June 12. Want to see the complete list? Check out our full list of video game release dates for 2020.
- Satisfactory [June 8 for PC via Steam, Early Access]: It's a big week for games exiting Epic Games Store exclusivity. Chief among them is the early access hit Satisfactory, a charming open-world factory-building game with full online co-op. Satisfactory has been in early access since early 2019, and while there's no concrete release date in sight, it has seen a number of substantial updates over the months. This is a building game you'll want to get in on early.
- Ys: Memories of Celceta [June 9 for PlayStation 4]: Ys: Memories of Celceta originally found a home on PlayStation Vita in 2012. In 2018, it later drifted onto PC, and now, establishes itself on PlayStation 4. Ys: Memories of Celceta is set after the events of Ys 2, making it a soft-prequel to the modern mainline entries. Also hello, we're still waiting on Ys 9: Monstrum Nox, which released last year in Japan only.
- Journey [June 11 for PC via Steam]: Remember when Thatgamecompany games were trapped on Sony consoles? At this point, me either. Last year, Journey made its official PC debut via Epic Games Store, and this week, that exclusivity ends. Journey will be available on Steam starting on June 11.
Five Things You Should Know Heading Into This Week In Gaming
- We raised $7,165 for Black Lives Matter on Friday! In case you missed it, the USgamer team and special guests from Kinda Funny, Giant Bomb, Fanbyte, VICE, and more raised money via a charity stream for the organization Black Lives Matter. If you missed the stream, you can watch the archive here. Across all of Reedpop, we've raised $32,000!
- In more charity news, itch.io has so far raised a staggering $2.3 million, to be split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Community Bail Fund, with a new massive games bundle. It's admittedly been a tough time to focus on video games right now, but seeing the industry rally in support of the Black Lives Matter movement has, at the very least, been very heartening. You can pick up the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality yourself here.
- Not-E3 starts in earnest this week. Sony's big PlayStation 5 event, originally planned for next week, has been rescheduled for this Thursday. IGN's Summer of Gaming livestreams are set to kick off this Wednesday. This weekend has a lot planned too, with the Guerrilla Collective showcase featuring the likes of Paradox and Sega, PC Gamer's annual PC Gaming Show, and the new Future Games Show, hosted by Gamesradar. We're in E3 now fam.
- We're launching a new podcast! This Wednesday marks the debut of a new USgamer podcast called The Dialogue Box, hosted by 1UP alum and industry veteran Jeff Green. Green will be chatting with a number of people who have helped shape the games industry in one way or another. Our first guest is Austin Walker of Waypoint Radio and Friends at the Table fame.
- The Last of Us on HBO's pilot has a director. Johan Renck, who previously worked with series executive producer and writer Craig Mazin on Chernobyl, will also be executive producing The Last of Us. The director told Discussing Film in a new interview that he will "at least" be directing The Last of Us' pilot episode. Stay tuned for more The Last of Us-related news, as its sequel is out next Friday.
Axe of the Blood God for June 8, 2020
Axe of the Blood God is our official RPG podcast releasing every single Monday. You can find subscription info here. We also put out an Axe of the Blood God newsletter every Wednesday, which you can subscribe to here.
In the course of USG raising more than $7000 for Black Lives Matters during a livestream, Axe of the Blood God recently held a live discussion about social commentary in RPGs. That segment is included in this episode, in which we are joined by News Editor Eric Van Allen and VG247's Alex Donaldson, who talk about the failings of Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the successes of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and more. Plus: The Outer Worlds on Switch isn't so great, unfortunately!