Is Summer Game Fest Really Missing Nintendo’s Presence?

Exploring Play Days

Strolling through the Play Days “campus”, there were moments of joy scattered around. Devolver’s area featured a vibrant bar celebrating mascot Volvy’s 15th birthday, complete with fake grass, cocktails, mocktails, and birthday hats. There was even a stained-glass Volvy for an extra touch of fun. The walls were adorned with art showcasing Monster Hunter Wilds, Dragon Ball Z: Sparking! Zero, and a greenhouse-like building filled with Sega and Atlus games.

Summer Game Fest is a trade event where some games are tucked away behind elaborate art displays and bar setups, while others are housed in well-organized rooms with cool lighting, air conditioning, and, of course, another free bar. They also offered iced tea, water, and soft drinks on the menu – a necessary relief from margaritas all week long. This year, some appointments were off-site, hidden behind hotel doors and nestled in theatre basements, adding an air of secrecy to the event.

Many of the exciting things I encountered are currently under embargo, which may make Nintendo SGF offerings seem a bit sparse to readers. I also miss the typical E3 experiences like taking photos with Pokémon statues or admiring Link’s Awakening queues just to capture shots of charming Zelda dioramas.

Spotting Familiar Faces

Since this is a press- and influencer-exclusive event, it was much easier to recognize familiar faces and industry personalities. Shigenori Soejima, the artist behind the Persona series, was tucked away in the Sega area conducting interviews for the upcoming PS5, Xbox, and PC RPG Metaphor: ReFantazio. Takashi Iizuka, the head of Sonic Team, was also casually roaming the campus, possibly seeking a break from questions about Shadow the Hedgehog.

Image: Stephen Tailby / Nintendo Life

Shuhei Yoshida, former President of SIE Worldwide Studios and advocate for independent games at Sony, was seen multiple times mingling with fans and friends, readily posing for photos. Even Swen Vincke, founder and head of Larian Studios, was spotted enjoying a drink at the Summer Game Fest live afterparty.

Surrounded by creators, developers, and journalists I’ve admired for years, the experience was a bit overwhelming. However, from an outsider’s perspective, Summer Game Fest may seem vastly different – a collection of livestreams, announcements, and press previews providing only a glimpse of the event.

Looking Towards the Future

Reflecting on the event, it’s evident that there is a disconnect between what the press witnesses and what the general public perceives. While some events and demos remain exclusive, others, like Summer Game Fest, are still seen as E3 alternatives. The absence of Nintendo and Sony, except for LEGO Horizon Adventures, lends a unique atmosphere to the event.

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Sonic ice-cream, anyone? — Image: Alana Hagues / Nintendo Life

With Nintendo notably missing this year, all eyes are on the upcoming Direct where they are expected to unveil their plans for the rest of 2024, possibly for the last time before the reveal of their next console.

A Mixed Reception

While some believe that Summer Game Fest could benefit from Nintendo’s participation, others feel that it would overshadow the diverse range of indie announcements and other unique offerings showcased during the event. Despite this, the public response to Summer Game Fest Live has been mixed. Organizers like Geoff Keighley can set expectations, but fans were still disappointed by the absence of certain titles and minimal presence of companies like Square Enix.

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Workin’ hard with the lovely Zion and Craig (Pure Xbox), though, amirite? — Image: Alana Hagues / Nintendo Life

Although Summer Game Fest is not a direct replacement for E3, it offers a different experience and has room to grow. With E3’s extensive history, there is potential for Summer Game Fest to evolve over time, potentially even attracting Nintendo to join in.

Perhaps, the upcoming year could see the perfect opportunity for Nintendo to make its debut at Summer Game Fest.

Are you missing Nintendo’s presence at the Big Summer Show™? Do you want to see something closer to the E3 of old? Vote in our polls below and let us know what you think in the comments.