Video game fans had to do without the annual E3 trade show this year, but veteran industry insider Geoff Keighley has been filling that space with events like the Summer Game Fest and a fan event called Play Days.
His showcases are full of trailers, announcements, special guests, and gameplay deep dives. This year, for the first time, Summer Game Fest hosted an in-person, physical event in Los Angeles, which was open to media and content creators. I talked to Keighley there about the current state of the video game industry and the future of live gaming events.
Here are some highlights from that conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity. You can also watch the full interview in video form.
On E3 and its return
Geoff Keighley: I’ve been to every E3 since the first one in 1995. I was a young kid when I went to E3. And look there hasn’t been an E3 in, I guess, three years now. I don’t know. They’re saying they’re coming back next year, I don’t really know if that’s real or not. I loved going to E3 but I think E3 has sort of had a participation or relevance problem over the past couple of years. And look, we’re willing to talk to them and hopefully it’ll all be one big happy family of the industry. But right now we just have to keep focused on what we’re doing.
On the future of Summer Game Fest
I can tease a little bit of what we’re thinking about. I’m very interested in doing something that’s decentralized and allows fans around the world to feel a part of the show. I don’t think we’re ever going to have just one mega destination where we’re gonna have 200,000 people show up in a city. Could we do Play Days in multiple cities? What would Play Days look like in London or in Tokyo? How do we use digital and cloud to bring more playable games to people and things like that? I think it’s gonna be a digital-first experience with a physical component.
On NFTs and gaming
I think the idea of digital art and artists being compensated for their work and participating in that compensation over time as art continues to move through its lifecycle, I think is really interesting. As it relates to games, I think the other thing that we’re thinking a lot about is NFTs or blockchain. It’s a technology but, to me, it’s all about the gameplay. What’s the game experience going to be, right? I’ve yet to see a game or a game experience in that web3 world that has really compelled me to say, ‘oh, that’s something I would put on my show.’
Look, we’re interested in learning about it but right now I think we’re pretty cautious about that space overall. And I think a lot of people, unfortunately, have been sort of scammed as part of that, which is cause for caution. I have friends that have bought that stuff. If you have fun with it, go for it. I’m not saying don’t get in there. I think you have to be very aware of what’s happening in that world, and some of the challenges with it.
On indie developers taking the lead
Our shows are all geared towards showcasing developers and empowering developers to have their work shown to a wide audience. What I love about our show is we’ll have all these independent games and that’s what I mean. There are big companies, but there are also so many amazing independent developers as part of the industry and the ecosystem. I think it’s really positive that a lot of developers now can leave a big company, start their own studio and be very successful on their own.
You can see our full conversation with Geoff here. Geoff Keighley, the Man Behind Summer Game Fest