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Which Not-E3 show was the most effective at showcasing games?

Fancensus' Ryan Janes analyses the media impact of all the games shown during this year's events, from State of Play to Nintendo Direct and everything in between

"Should we bother with Summer Game Fest this year? Are there other shows better suited for our title? Should we do our own event?"

Every year, I see the same questions getting thrown my way when it comes to what used to be E3's spot in the calendar. What was once a singular event that brought every publisher, developer, journalist and gamer together to celebrate the industry and its latest and greatest has since morphed into a series of smaller events scattered about before, during and after the typical E3 scheduled week.

Opinions have always been mixed on the newer methods of announcement delivery with some liking its wider and longer lasting presence during June and others seeing it as messy and too thinly spread. Regardless of opinion though, there's little denying the impact these events have across the summer; gamers are watching in anticipation much like they used to with a conference from one of the platform holders at E3.

With so many options for publishers and developers in which to announce or show off their new and exciting title, where should they turn? Who is going to provide them with not just the most sets of eyes but more importantly an engaged audience? That has been and continues to be the million–dollar question.

More games in a show sounds great to consumers, but it makes things especially tough from games businesses

At the end of the day, these events are about one thing: exposure. Whether that's with press going hands on, influencers reacting to shows and reveals or just general discussion over social media, the hope of each event is that it acts as a catalyst to generate attention. This summer was particularly busy with events big and small, so snatching that spotlight and standing out from the crowd has been no easy feat (much like it wasn't when E3 was still a thing). However, instead of a condensed few days, shows are now spread out across several weeks.

Comparing several June events, Fancensus analysed every featured game, measuring its overall PR and social flare score achieved up to 72 hours after each respective event. This score out of 100, combines a game's performance across around 3,000 websites, plus channels across YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and X. Everything was analysed, from front page placement on websites and video views to X interactions and YouTube engagement rate, weighing each outlet based on its impact on a title's campaign.

A score of 100 on a game, for example, would mean that essentially it dominated every single metric on all five channels (website, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and X) – highly unlikely but not impossible with Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 the only close candidate scoring in the 90s. Doing this not only allows for a fair comparison across hundreds of titles, but considers multiple outlets all key to raising their awareness with consumers.

Flare performance by show (up to 72 hours post-event)

Event Total Flare Game Count Avg Flare Per Game Top Flare Score
Xbox Games Showcase 536 31 17 93
State of Play 209 14 15 24
Ubisoft Forward 136 9 15 37
Nintendo Direct 264 30 9 27
Summer Game Fest 523 61 9 31
Future Games Show 218 62 4 8
PC Gaming Show 271 77 4 11

For starters, looking at the shows overall, Xbox Games Showcase and Summer Game Fest have the highest sum total flare scores between all their featured titles. On paper that sounds great for both – after all, they've scored well over double that of any other competing shows this summer so far. However, when you account for the total number of games featured in said shows, that statistic becomes less impressive for Summer Game Fest.

Last year's The Game Awards saw its number of featured titles increase by 50% year-on-year to over 60, with Summer Game Fest following suit with a similar count and increase. With that in mind, the average press and social flare score per game would wind up falling to just 8.7 out of 100, placing it well behind all three platform holder shows and the Ubisoft Forward. So while, as an event, it may have seen its games shine bright collectively, individually they would tend to struggle to grab the spotlight.

A survey of over 1,300 US and UK regular PC and console gamers conducted by Fancensus, would ask which gaming events they were aware of and watched or were interested in, with the feedback generally showing they were more aware and willing to watch platform holder streams from Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation, aligning with the trend of content produced on websites and social media.

Consumer reactions to major shows

Event Aware Watch/Interested
PlayStation Showcase 71% 43%
Xbox Games Showcase 69% 37%
Nintendo Direct 67% 36%
The Game Awards 66% 37%
State of Play 65% 38%
PC Gaming Show 60% 32%
Nintendo Partner Direct 60% 30%
Xbox Developer Direct 60% 30%
Ubisoft Forward 55% 26%
Summer Game Fest 53% 28%
Future Games Show 51% 26%
Gamescom Opening Night Live 49% 25%
Devolver Digital 45% 21%
Source: Fancensus - Summer Events Consumer Survey June ‘24. Base: 1,318 regular PC & console gamers, USA & UK

Not only that but of Geoff Keighley's three major events across the year, Summer Game Fest and Gamescom Opening Night Live ranked tenth and twelfth respectively, with just under 50% of those surveyed aware of the latter and half of those interested in watching. Clearly, consumer expectation for Keighley's shows is highest for The Game Awards, with little in the way of competition in December and the bigger announcements usually expected. However, while enthusiasm toward ONL and Summer Game Fest may not be as high for gamers when compared with other competing events, it's tough to deny that the shows still do big numbers for some of its featured titles.

All this tracks too with the data IGN revealed recently for the highest wishlisted games from any shows this June, five of those featured in the Xbox Games Showcase, three from the Nintendo Direct, the bursting-with-creativity Astro Bot from the State of Play, and Assassin's Creed Shadows, which appeared in both the Xbox Games Showcase as well as Ubisoft Forward. Any games shown in shows outside the three platform holders it would seem didn't resonate as strongly with IGN visitors.

Split of Top 50 performing titles for press and social flare score (up to 72 hours post-event)

Name of event Top 10 Top 20 Top 30 Top 40 Top 50 No. of Games % to Make Top 50
Xbox Games Showcase 5 8 11 13 17 31 54.84%
Ubisoft Forward 2 2 3 3 3 9 33.33%
Summer Game Fest 1 4 7 12 14 61 22.95%
Nintendo Direct 1 2 3 5 6 30 20.00%
State of Play 1 4 6 8 10 14 71.43%

Breaking things down to the games themselves, it's clear that Xbox had a very strong showing, accounting for half those featured in the top ten when ranked by flare score. Not only that, it would also see 17 of its featured titles within the top fifty performers, the highest of any show and around 55% of all Xbox Games Showcase games.

The State of Play, meanwhile – an event that back in May was met with a relatively lukewarm reception from gamers – performed admirably too with ten of its 14 featured titles making the top fifty list.

As for Summer Game Fest, with such a large quantity of titles, 14 would find themselves scoring among the top fifty performers; not an amazing proportion of its 61 but still making some noticeable waves online. It's worth noting though, that of the four games from its show ranking 20 or higher, these included two games currently out (Street Fighter 6 and Valorant), the world premiere of LEGO Horizon Adventures, and Star Wars: Outlaws, whose tease performed lower than the gameplay reveal of the Ubisoft Forward several days later.

Most recalled titles featured in Summer Game Fest

Title Recall Rate
Star Wars: Outlaws 47%
Street Fighter 6 43%
Batman: Arkham Shadow 41%
Alan Wake 2: Night Springs 38%
Lego Horizon Adventures 37%
Harry Potter: Quidditch Champions 36%
Sonic X Shadow Generations 35%
Valorant 35%
Civilization 7 34%
Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero 33%
Source: Summer Events Consumer Survey June ‘24. Base: 327 Summer Games Fest ‘24 viewers

While more games in a show might sound great from a consumer standpoint, it often makes things especially tough from a business one as the quantity of competition is so much higher. It can also result in a case of there being too much to remember, evidenced in my conversations just days after the Summer Game Fest or Future Games Show where friends would struggle to name off more than two or three standouts. Compare that with June's Nintendo Direct or Xbox Games Showcase and suddenly they'd recite off game after game as if they were some sort of Broadway stage actor.

It sounds silly but sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Of those surveyed by Fancensus who watched all or some of Summer Game Fest 2024, the top performing title from the show achieved less than a 50% recall rate with other big AAA titles seeing rates in the 30s, a sign perhaps that too many games can overwhelm.

AAA games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 dominated consumer attention

It's unsurprising but nearly half of the top fifty consisted of AAA titles, with a further 36% A–tier. That meant mid–tier and indie accounted for just 16% and 2% respectively. As a result, Future Games Show and PC Gaming Show – two shows that tend to focus on smaller projects – would see none of their feature games score among the top fifty titles overall.

It was clear from the shows that the platform holders were more focused on bigger titles, proof that their consoles have big things to look forward to, and as a result indie games felt like they fell by the wayside. It would be Keighley then that would deliver on the indie front, accounting for 24 of the show's 60 titles and even going so far as to open the show highlighting the success smaller studios have had in 2024.

Average flare score by game tier (up to 72 hours post-event)

Event Indie Flare Avg. Mid Flare Avg. A Flare Avg. AAA Flare Avg.
Xbox Games Showcase 8 10 16 24
State of Play 11 11 18 24
Ubisoft Forward 8 19
Nintendo Direct 7 8 9 13
Summer Game Fest 5 7 12 17
Future Games Show 3 4 5
PC Gaming Show 3 4 6

And while its great these smaller releases would get their moment on such a large platform, looking at the noise created with press and social, flare scores for indie titles scored an average of five out of 100 versus the seven, eight and 11 of Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation shows.

In fact, the Summer Game Fest average flare score was closer to Future Games Show and PC Gaming Show. It's a similar story with mid–tier titles as well; Summer Game Fest was sandwiched between the platform holder shows and the smaller PC Gaming Show and Future Games Show. Considering the expense of even a 30-second slot in Summer Game Fest it does raise the question: if you're a smaller publisher or developer, would you be better off utilising the smaller shows, potentially producing similar results?

If you're a smaller publisher or developer, would you be better off utilising the smaller shows?

Even the aided recall rate of Summer Game Fest titles for gamers who watched the show would reveal the best performing mid–tier or indie title as Killer Bean with 23% while indie titles in general would fall as low as 8%.

2024 has certainly been interesting for the 'unofficial E3' period. After the so–so State of Play in May and Keighley's expectation–lowering talk on a stream before Summer Game Fest, many expected a quieter June with smaller announcements and little in the way of surprises. What followed could be described as anything but, with some journalists even claiming some shows like the Xbox Game Showcase summoned feelings of old E3 again. It saw platform holders relying on themselves to reach their fans, shows like Future Games Show, PC Gaming Show and plenty more offer a stage for smaller studios and bigger companies hedge their bets between multiple.

The result has been interesting to watch unfold, showing how big publishers can yield strong results from simply doing their own thing, while indies and mid–tier titles hit their audience through cheaper shows. Summer Game Fest finds itself in a rather unique spot upping its quantity of titles but not necessarily their impact, whilst delivering quieter results for the smaller projects it set its focus to.

Next year will likely continue to see the same options available to publishers and developers, but perhaps the main takeaway here is that the biggest and loudest show with the most charismatic presenter may not be the one for you.

Top 50 performing titles ranked by PR and social flare score (up to 72 hours post-event)

Game Event Flare Score
Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 Xbox Games Showcase 93
Assassins Creed: Shadows (Teaser) Xbox Games Showcase 39
Doom: The Dark Ages Xbox Games Showcase 39
Assassins Creed: Shadows (Gameplay reveal) Ubisoft Forward 37
Dragon Age: The Veilguard Xbox Games Showcase 32
Valorant Summer Game Fest 31
Star Wars: Outlaws (Gameplay reveal) Ubisoft Forward 31
Gears of War: E-Day Xbox Games Showcase 28
Metroid Prime 4: Beyond Nintendo Direct 27
Monster Hunter Wilds State of Play 24
God Of War: Ragnarok State of Play 24
Astro Bot State of Play 24
Lego Horizon Adventures Summer Game Fest 21
Silent Hill 2 Remake State of Play 20
Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater Xbox Games Showcase 20
Street Fighter 6 Summer Game Fest 20
The Legend of Zelda: Echoes of Wisdom Nintendo Direct 20
Star Wars: Outlaws (Teaser) Summer Game Fest 20
Fable Xbox Games Showcase 19
Indiana Jones And The Great Circle Xbox Games Showcase 19
Perfect Dark Xbox Games Showcase 19
XDefiant Ubisoft Forward 19
Sonic X Shadow Generations Summer Game Fest 19
Concord State of Play 19
Monster Hunter Wilds Summer Game Fest 18
Life Is Strange: Double Exposure Xbox Games Showcase 18
Marvel vs Capcom Fighting Collection: Arcade Classics Nintendo Direct 18
Marvel Rivals State of Play 18
Honkai Star Rail Summer Game Fest 17
Avowed Xbox Games Showcase 17
Dragon Quest 3 HD 2D Remake Nintendo Direct 16
Harry Potter: Quidditch Champions Summer Game Fest 15
Mario And Luigi: Brothership Nintendo Direct 15
Dragon Ball: Sparking Zero Summer Game Fest 15
Black Myth: WuKong Summer Game Fest 15
Stalker 2 Xbox Games Showcase 15
Project Dosa Summer Game Fest 15
Civilization 7 Summer Game Fest 15
Dynasty Warriors: Origins State of Play 14
Fallout 76 Xbox Games Showcase 14
Path Of Exile 2 State of Play 13
Super Mario Party Jamboree Nintendo Direct 13
South Of Midnight Xbox Games Showcase 13
Phantom Blade 0 Summer Game Fest 13
Skate Summer Game Fest 13
Clair Obscur: Expedition 33 Xbox Games Showcase 12
State of Decay 3 Xbox Games Showcase 12
Ballad of Antara State of Play 12
Diablo 4: Vessel Of Hatred Xbox Games Showcase 12
Infinity Nikki State of Play 12

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