Sandwiched between the big-screened, live esports broadcasts and hours-long lines of gamers waiting to play, a few vendors engaged the new flow of E3 visitors with activations that were less digital blitz and more physical.
Nyko Technologies invited attendees to play games while testing new controllers from the comfort of a large, branded ball pit, an activation the company had wanted to execute for years. “With opening up to the public this year, it’s the perfect opportunity to have something that’s so engaging and interactive,” said Nyko exhibitor Surabhi Srivastava. “We wanted to have a slide that goes into the ball pit, but there were a lot of waivers around the design.”
Sonic Mania brought people into the game with a trampoline, a large ring hovering from above, and a green screen. Those who fit the criteria to play get on the apparatus (18+, under 250 pounds, not pregnant) and dared to do the #SonicRingJump entered a sweepstakes to win $1,000, and walked away with a four-second video.
Enormous, detailed displays were in no short supply, with large character replicas acting as guardians to the game lines—most notably, Super Mario Odyssey‘s Mario and Cappy, his new manipulative accomplice, and several large dragons, including the beast at Monster Hunter World.
For a transformative experience, the physical installation showcasing PS4’s Yakuza 6: Game of Life, was a standout, bringing attendees through Tokyo’s red-light district.
Returning to the perimeter this year, a lone watcher from Horizon Zero Dawn investigated crowds at the entrance.
Most other brands centered their showcase around the experience of the games. Many players were rewarded with specialty swag; Mario players walked off with a Cappy visor, Sonic players got posters, and others reaped the reward of not having to wait in line anymore.