Initial E3 Reports: Down but Not Out

Anyone keeping up with video game news over the weekend got to see the slow-motion demise of a venerable trade show. They also got to see some good old-fashioned inter-outlet sniping between some news agencies.

UK trade daily MCV broke first word of the story last Friday with a somewhat confusing lede that confirmed discussions were going on but that other, unnamed rumors should be discounted.

But the real fireworks came over the weekend, when outlets jumped on the opportunity to be first with real confirmation. Next Gen (which I have written for) was the first to pull the trigger, with the provocatively headlined story “EXCLUSIVE: E3 FINISHED” (available in its original form here). The story itself only confirmed that the show had been canceled “in its current form,” but also suggested that “well placed sources” said there would be “no point in continuing.”

When it became clear that the show was being heavily scaled back but not outright cancelled, Ars Technica jumped on it:

Contrary to reports across the web, E3 has not been cancelled. Next-Gen had hoped that they would blow the lid off of a hot story by revealing that the show had been cancelled, but some quick fact checking shows that they are simply incorrect.

Next Gen quickly updated the story with a version that defended the original reporting and struck back at detractors:

Some gullible journalists, evidently blinded by a desire to do-down a rival scoop, have taken this as evidence that E3 is alive and well and merely being ‘downsized’. But this euphemism doesn’t change the facts. The decision by big manufacturers and publishers to walk away has left ESA in damage-control mode. As we reported yesterday, E3, in its present form, is dead.

Was Next Gen premature in its reporting? Not really… the article itself ended up being pretty prescient, even presaging the ESA’s Monday announcement of a smaller, fundamentally different show under the E3 brand. While the initial headline “E3 Finished” was technically incorrect, it was updated quickly as more information came to light.

More on the resulting analyses, and the impact on journalists, in future posts.

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