Hello, and welcome to Clash at the Stash, a staff collaboration series from those of us here at The Nerd Stash. This series — which is for entertainment purposes only — pits two of our writers against each other over hotly contested nerd culture topics that have been going on for days to decades.
Here, you will see things like the Mario Franchise vs. the Zelda Franchise, PlayStation Exclusives vs. Xbox Exclusives, Silent Hill vs. Resident Evil, Old School Assassin’s Creed Games vs. New School Assassin’s Creed Games, Uncharted vs. Tomb Raider, the Star Wars Prequels vs. the Star Wars Sequels, and Mario vs. Luigi.
I know, I know… You’re all used to Taylor running the show, but not this time! My name is Shelby Royal, two-time Clash at the Stash winner and current champion. I will be your host this time around because… (drumroll, please) Taylor is one of our competitors this week! This week is going to be tough as we discuss which gaming event has taken the main stage: E3 or The Game Awards! Hopefully, these competitors are ready to rumble — especially with such a hot topic.
E3 is a staple in the gaming industry and has been for many years. Every summer, gamers are glued to their screens, eagerly awaiting news from their favorite developers and publishers, but attendance has started to dwindle over the past few years. However, Geoff Keighley’s Game Awards have grown in notoriety, dazzling gamers with epic premieres and performances while awarding their favorite titles. Are Keighley’s Game Awards the new E3? Or is it just a passing fad? Hopefully, we’ll find an answer here today, and someone will walk away with their first Clash at the Stash win!
The rules are simple. Both writers will have 500-1,000 words to argue for their side or to bash the opposition. After they are done with that, I’ll direct you to our three judges (other members on TNS staff), who’ll give out their final verdict based on what the writers said and how entertaining they were. Simple enough, right?
In the corner of The Game Awards stands our fearless host, Taylor Cole! This is his second time participating as a competitor in Clash of the Stash. He’s coming in at 0-1, and he “is still wondering why the Untitled Beaker Game isn’t a real thing.” In the corner of the tried-and-true E3 stands Matthew Kowalski, a first-time competitor, who believes that “he was not the only one who cried when Kingdom Hearts 3 reappeared on the E3 stage.”
Because of all of his hard work here at The Stash, we’re going to let our host-with-the-most Taylor go first:
The Game Awards
Let me tell you all a story. Don’t worry, it’s a short one.
There once was an event where gamers from all walks of life could gather around, celebrate their favorite games, and get incredibly hyped over the next big game around the corner. It was a truly special event for those reasons.
Was it flawless? Not a chance. This event had numerous embarrassing moments that made you quietly cringe and hope that nobody else saw what you just witnessed. And that’s coming from the guy who created this series.
Anyway, that event was called the Electronic Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as E3. As I said, E3 was a remarkable event. But, it eventually lost its luster. There’s a reason why I keep talking about E3 in the past tense. That’s because E3, as we once remembered it, is gone.
Look, I’m not going to bore you with a ton of stats. I could. It would be really easy to talk about the declining numbers in attendance and how publishers are bowing out of the event. I could take the low hanging fruit and address Sony’s exit from E3 over the past two years or the data breach that caused the doxxing of 2,000 journalists in 2019.
I should focus on that if we’re being honest with one another. But I won’t. Instead, I want to be the positive guy and direct your much-appreciated attention on an event I believe is slowly taking E3’s place. The Game Awards.
The Game Awards, or TGA, was founded in 2014 by gaming journalist Geoff Keighley. This event was meant to celebrate the best games of the year and give out awards to the well-deserving and hard-working people who made them. In its first year, The Game Awards raked in 1.9 million viewers. Not too bad considering this was just the event’s inaugural year.
Each year, The Game Awards would steadily increase in viewership, and in 2019, TGA had over 45 million people tuning in. Slowly but surely, The Game Awards evolved into something we hadn’t seen in a long time.
The Game Awards 2019 Viewer Stats
+ 45.2 million global live streams, up 73% YoY
+ 7.5 million Peak Concurrent Viewers
+ 15.5 million audience members logged votes, up 50% YoY.
2019: 45.2m https://t.co/7OgFEgUDN2
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) December 18, 2019
Let’s stay with the 2019 show. 2019’s TGA wasn’t perfect. I’m still not entirely convinced that the Vin Diesel/Michelle Rodriguez segment actually happened. There is an off-chance someone could have slipped me some kind of edible before the show started, and I just had a bad reaction to it.
I think we’re getting a little off-track. My point is, 2019’s TGA had some awkward moments here and there — just like E3. Nevertheless, Keighley’s project that netted just 1.9 million people in its first year had obtained something more meaningful than 40+ million viewers. It had gained that sense of heartfelt celebration and excitement that E3 lost so long ago.
None of us are stupid. As cynical as it may be, we all know these events are in place for us to get hyped and shell out money for the publishers on-stage showcasing these upcoming games. It’s just that E3 has leaned into this corporate tone now more than ever. Those moments of real sincerity are few and far between. I’m not saying TGA is this unicorn of gaming perfection, but it feels more genuine than anything I’ve seen at E3 over the last 3-5 years.
There’s also something for everyone at The Game Awards. 2019’s show had a next-gen Xbox reveal, a funny (but sadly fake) trailer for an Untitled Beaker Game, a performance from Green Day of all bands, and the awards themselves. If you didn’t fancy something I just mentioned, there’s a chance something else at the show made you grin from ear to ear.
To wrap this all up, we should go back to my story and give it an ending. What became of E3? Did it ever return to its former self? Nobody knows yet. As it stands right now, I don’t believe this event is not going to last another decade without implementing major changes from top to bottom. The Game Awards, on the other hand, is trending in the right direction and still has the potential to become even more popular down the road. Until E3 can make those necessary changes, I’m going to give the edge to The Game Awards.
When you were growing up, what did you want to be? Did you want to be a doctor, a cowboy, a professional athlete, a pop-star, or something else? Over the last 40 years, gaming has helped those who have failed to achieve their childhood dreams, live them as adults. As the gaming industry grew, developers looked for an opportunity to showcase their upcoming titles. Over the years, the platform has changed thanks to the development of technology. When you ask gamers what is the one event they wish they could go to, many, if not all, say E3.
E3 has always been known for the games revealed during the event. During the early 2000s, G4 gave gamers a sneak peek at what transpired during E3. Nowadays, live streams have filled the void that G4 left when it was bought out. Over the last five years, E3 has become more accessible to those outside of the industry. Although tickets for the event range between $150 and $250 for general access, E3 has only continued to grow in size.
Yes, E3 did lose 3,000 attendees last year, but that was mainly due to Sony disgracefully bowing out of the event. E3 2019 still welcomed roughly 66,100 guests, an increase in comparison to 2016 but a decrease compared to 2017 and 2018. This fluctuation in attendance is easily explained by attendees covering E3’s overcrowding, long lines, and Sony’s absence. My opponent Taylor will tell you E3’s attendance decrease is because of developers pulling out of the event, and to a small extent, that is true. But, in reality, E3’s hype has died down a little due to being open to the public.
The quality of E3 has definitely gone downhill since opening to the public; however, E3 only opened to the public to appease EA and Sony, who both demanded a more public atmosphere similar to a trade show. Now both Sony and EA have pulled out for consecutive years. Honestly, there is only one event I would trade E3 for, and that is the Tokyo Game Expo. An event structured to balance the demands of the media and the public.
Now obviously, this debate is not about why E3 is better than The Tokyo Game Show, but rather why E3 is better than The Game Awards. Don’t get me wrong; I love The Game Awards. The event rewards developers for creating a great game and allows members of the industry to celebrate them. What I don’t like about the Game Awards is the predictability of most categories and the limitedness of the event.
As a viewer, The Game Awards aims to keep your attention and deliberately panders to what will keep a captive audience. E3, on the other hand, covers a variety of games and hardware, but the presenters can talk too much. If we are looking at the two events from an attendance standpoint, E3 is vastly superior. Which would you rather choose to spend $250 on? A convention that you can play some of the new upcoming games for three days or a 3-hour show where you are a guest isolated from the rockstars of the industry.
The Game Awards viewership is impressive, but that is because it is a quick one-night event. E3 is a week-long event where people from all walks of life get to interact with one another and share their love of gaming. Keanu Reeves’ “Your Breathtaking, you’re all breathtaking!” was more exciting and monumental than Vin Diesel, promoting a Fast and Furious game and 4-minute movie trailer.
Does The Game Awards create excitement? Yes, hands down, but the excitement it generates is minuscule in comparison to E3. During The Game Awards, viewers at best get twenty game previews, in which only 6 or 7 really excite the audience, whereas E3 showcases over 100 games just on one day alone. That is without Sony being actively present.
Now let’s get back to why Sony being absent is not the true cause of E3’s declining numbers. Yes, Sony and Activision are not present on the show floor, but that does not stop them from taking meetings. The Game Awards is solely a marketing event to hype gamers up for upcoming games and push sales on preexisting games. Every year right after the TGA’s, Sony and Microsoft hold a sale for some of the nominees.
Yes, E3 can be flawed, and the management team behind the event can screw up, but the overall entity of E3 still remains constant. Giving gamers something to look forward to and allowing them to try out something before anyone else. I will gladly wait in line with other passionate gamers than sit in a hard chair in the Microsoft Theatre for three hours.
Does E3 need to change to be relevant? Yes, that is as clear as a sunny blue-skied day. Is it better than The Game Awards? Mostly, yes. Here is why I say mostly. If you go in with the expectation that you will get to play everything on the show floor, you will be disappointed. Most journalists who attend the show do not get that opportunity, but E3 has created a variety of other ways to entertain their attendees than just the games on the show floor. E3 offers E3 exclusive merchandise, Q&A panels with developers, voice actors, celebrities, tournaments, esports events in the plaza, and a wide variety of parties to attend potentially.
I can easily say that I am biased towards E3 and that is easy because I have attended E3 for the last six years, but I can say without reasonable doubt that there has never been a year where I said this wasn’t worth doing at all. Yes, some years, I may have been frustrated or slightly disappointed. But the atmosphere, the attendees, and even of the city of LA makes it worth every dollar that I have spent over the years. The Game Awards does not provide that experience.
I appreciate what The Game Awards are, but if I had to choose between going to E3 and The Game Awards, I would easily choose E3 without a second thought. I want to see The Game Awards a little less scripted and a bit less cringy. Yes, there were some awesome moments like the Untitled Beaker Game, Green Day, and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice stealing Game of the Year away from Death Stranding, The Outer Worlds, and Control. However, that isn’t enough to appease the masses.
As you may have noticed, this was just Part 1. From here on out, we’ll post the first part of a Clash at the Stash that showcases the writers’ arguments. The second half will be posted the following week that features our judges’ verdicts, our usual post-Clash interview, and maybe even a few responses we get from you guys. You can reply either by the comment section below or our Twitter/Facebook accounts.
Who do you think should win this Clash at the Stash? The Game Awards or E3? Let us know in the comments below, and you may be featured in our next article!