Evolve PR, a public relations firm that helps promote games, has recently published an in-depth report analyzing shifts in E3’s focuses on media attendance and coverage over the past few years. They looked at media coverage produced by 10% of the traditional online media outlets and 10% of influencers attending the event. Evolve listed “two major factors” that led to them pursuing this research: E3 opening its doors to the public in 2017 and the fact that “a number of larger companies” have “[reduced] their presence at the show,” such as by not coming or having virtual conferences.
Their data includes the number of individual media attendees from 2016 to 2019, which has fluctuated. After growing from 2492 attendees in 2016 to 3000 in 2017, E3 saw a huge drop in 2018 with only 1831 media attendees before growing to 2024 in 2019. Though the ESA has said that the number of media attending E3 has only grown, the study notes that some reporters from smaller media outlets could have been given public badges rather than press badges, since E3’s shift to include the general public in 2017.
Client support and research coordinator Matt Broitman noted some factors that explained the fluctuations, such as some large media outlets shutting down in the last two years and the company’s choice to re-categorize podcasts as influencers rather than the regular online media outlets. Despite this, Broitman argues, “the cold fact remains that a much smaller number of relevant outlets attended E3 this year as compared to 2017, which of course resulted in less coverage overall.”
Of the 240 games covered in total that Evolve included in their research, only 40% of them had a single article written about them or were mentioned within the first two weeks after E3. Though there were 4.2 more articles per outlet this year than in 2017, but overall 40% less articles. Preview coverage decreased 5% from 2017 while interviews went up by 5%.
Looking at influencers, YouTube and Mixer had an increased presence in the E3 2019 media coverage, though this is partially due to Microsoft inviting Mixer streamers. Overall, Broitman concludes that “attending influencers just aren’t creating coverage at E3, at least not in the volume that might be desired,” as only 47 pieces of coverage were produced from the 34 sample channels Evolve looked at.
Overall, Broitman believes E3 “looks to be in rough shape,” due to the decline in media attendance, increase in public presence and accessibility to E3 news from home, and big companies like Sony, Activision, and EA skipping out on the event over the past few years.