MS doesn't really need to pay to register for space at the Convention Center or pay to be part of the actual E3 event because they still own the theater across the street if they want a proxy live presence.
Though seems just doing a pre-assembled trailer playlist kind of event really is the most economic way to go about it. And with Covid concerns I can see vendors having issues getting people to commit far ahead of time.
Maybe the only real benefit is for companies like Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo to influence peddle with developers and the press and so on, networking, etc. Seems the people who will lose out most are people who like attending these events because they are fun to go to. For those that don't attend, the meat of these events is the game trailers and gameplay demonstrations, whether they update us on a game's development and release schedule, and to surprise us with newly debuted games. That's still happening.
I've said it before, though I know devs hate making vertical slices demos for events when it eats into their development time and resources. But if they make them, modern streaming technology with Game Pass and PS Plus and so on, they could make some of that stuff accessible to players for the limited duration of these events, to get people to tune in. Someone should try that, the opportunity is ripe for making waves doing this.
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