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A ‘Lighter’ Summer Game Fest Could Make More Room for Indie Games

Don’t get your hopes up.

screenshot of Geoff Keighley in Twitch stream Q&A

Don’t get too excited about Summer Game Fest. I’m not just sharing my opinion — though it’s also that — this is coming straight from host Geoff Keighley himself. Ahead of this week’s games showcase, Keighley hosted a live Q&A session on Twitch to answer questions about the show and tried to set audience expectations a little lower in the process.

In the hour-long Twitch stream, the former journalist turned event host took questions from fans about Summer Game Fest, covering everything from the show’s history to the minute details of this year’s presentation. Before diving into questions from chat, Keighley laid out a more general overview of the show, noting that it isn’t going to be a year full of groundbreaking reveals. Keighley noted that it will be a “lighter” year for announcements. When asked how high he’d rate his excitement for the event on a scale from one to ten, measuring gamer-friendly hype, he said an eight out of ten. It’s a far cry from most similar showcases, which try their best to build up anticipation beforehand, rather than deflating it.

A Summer Game Fest hype trailer shows off some of the evidently less exciting announcements to expect.

Summer Game Fest and The Game Awards have been widely criticized (including by Inverse) for failing to substantively address the crisis of layoffs and studio closures gutting the games industry in the past few years. And while he didn’t spend more than a few seconds on the subject he did acknowledge that the precarious position of the industry is at least partially to blame for a paucity of releases this year.

“It’s been a challenging year for the industry with everything going on, the layoffs, and studio closures,” Keighley said. “So far this year, it’s been a little bit quieter for big game releases.”

While the state of the industry is obviously devastating for many developers, Keighley did find a silver lining in that a lack of blockbuster releases could make some room for indie games.

“We really tried to program some unexpected things from smaller teams into the show alongside big blockbuster games and franchises,” he said. “It’s a great time where small games can really get significant success.”

“It’s really important for us to have independent games be a part of this show,” Keighley added later, noting that several games set to be presented at Summer Game Fest will be made by solo developers.

Geoff Keighley says Summer Game Fest won’t be as packed with reveals as The Game Awards.

JC Olivera/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Digging into questions from Twitch chat, Keighley pointed to some specific games that viewers will see at the show — and some they definitely won’t. Along with many, many questions just asking how many games would be presented (which Keighley understandably didn’t have an exact number for), he confirmed that the recently announced Batman: Arkham Shadow VR game will be shown, but shot down hopes of seeing Grand Theft Auto 6 or Judas. And undoubtedly, the most disappointing reveal was that there will categorically be no Muppets at Summer Game Fest — though they may still remain for The Game Awards later this year.

Keighley also confirmed that players will be able to get their hands on some of what’s shown at Summer Game Fest shortly after the showcase. While he hesitated to say that any games would be released as they were revealed, he did say that within a few weeks, some announced games or updates will be available to play.

More concrete confirmation of what to expect from Summer Game Fest came from a teaser trailer Keighley played at the beginning of the stream. It showed the likes of Monster Hunter Wilds, Dragon’s Dogma 2, Astro Bot, and Elden Ring. A Steam page for Summer Game Fest features more games that will evidently make an appearance, including Mecha Break and Palworld.

Nomada Studio’s Neva is one of the most exciting indie games scheduled to appear at Summer Game Fest.

Nomada Studio

While Keighley says “it’s really important for us to have independent games be a part of this show,” most of what’s already been confirmed falls squarely in blockbuster category, aside from a few games like Neva (from Gris developer Nomada Studio), which will show off gameplay during the event. If you’re looking for upcoming indie games, you’d be better off paying attention to Day of the Devs, which airs directly after Summer Game Fest. Games confirmed by Steam for that showcase include While Waiting, a game primarily about standing in lines, Zoochosis, a horror game set in a zoo full of evil animals, and other equally inscrutable indies.

It’s easy to be cynical about Summer Game Fest as a shallow marketing showcase for AAA publishers. I do it all the time, in fact! But I’d frankly rather have expectations set a bit lower than have Keighley try to convince us that this year’s crop of trailers is going to change gaming forever — not that that’s going to stop some viewers from convincing themselves that’s the case anyway. And if you’re really looking for an exciting group of games you’ve probably never heard of that offer something genuinely new, tune in to Day of the Devs after the main show. That’s where the real action is.

Summer Game Fest airs on Friday, June 4, on YouTube and Twitch.

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