Summer Game Fest’s back, with big announcements, wall-to-wall news, and world premieres

By Brian Crecente

Summer Game Fest 2023 will feature two hours of wall-to-wall video game news, updates, and world premieres, all streamed live around the world and – for the first time in four years – it’s all happening in front of an in-studio audience.

Taking place at the YouTube Theater in L.A. on June 8 at 3 PM ET, host and producer Geoff Keighley promises a memorable show. He just doesn’t know what exactly will be this year’s big moment.

Despite serving up hours of premiers, trailers, and news about a wide-swathe of video games each year, traditionally the Summer Game Fest’s annual outing can often be boiled down to one or two games.

Easily the most memorable Summer Game Fest to date – 2020’s – featured more than 40 games. But what everyone remembers is that spectacular gameplay trailer for Elden Ring, which also revealed the game’s release date.

While last year’s show may not have had its own Elden Ring moment, it did deliver a trifecta of Naughty Dog news with the remake of The Last of Us, the unveiling of a multiplayer game set in The Last of Us universe, and new details about the HBO series based on the game.

The big news for this year’s show is still a mystery, even to Keighley.

“As I always say with these shows, one or two games kind of makes the entire difference,” he said. “As the producer, it's challenging because sometimes you have those games, sometimes you don't, sometimes you think you have them and they drop out or change.

While Keighley is always cautious in his estimates of the show, he did say that there were currently three or four things that are going to be “pretty big for this audience.”

He also pointed out that the show – which will for the first time have a live, in-person audience – will also be putting developers up on the stage to talk about some of the games in the show.

“Whereas The Game Awards is very much straight trailer, trailer, trailer, announcement, announcement, announcement,” he said. “I think Summer Game Fest has a chance to talk to the developers and showcase games and give a little bit more context around games. We're not giving out awards in the show. It really is just kind of a showcase of games.”

The addition of that live audience (Keighley expects there to be about 3,000 in the theater) will create a lot of energy in the room, he said.

“We certainly felt that at the Game Awards last year when fans would erupt in cheers when we revealed Hades or other games,” Keighley said. "In the world of so many video events, our live show and fan audience is a key differentiator for Summer Game Fest. It adds so much energy to the room to have fans react to the announcements, allowing us to really bring the announcements into the room."
While the show will have a live audience, there won’t be any booths or demo stations for those attending. In other words, this isn’t meant to be an E3 stand-in.

“The consumer experience is really coming to the live show,” Keighley said. “There will be some games and demos and things released online for fans to sort of play at home and experience. But the consumer experience is limited to the live show. We're not doing panels. We're not doing a convention show where you walk around and play games.”

It’s a natural question to come up when this is the second year in a row that the Summer Game Fest is taking place over a summer where E3 has been canceled.

Keighley seems like he was just as surprised as everyone when news came that the show was canceled. He said he and the Summer Game Fest team had been speaking with ReedPop about E3 last year, shortly after it was announced for 2023.

The cancellation, while a surprise, didn’t actually have much of an impact on Keighley’s show.

“We had long planned exactly what we're doing,” he said. “We're kind of building on what we've done for three years.

“I think people just want great video game news, right?”