E3 2023 is canceled and the gaming industry is in mourning. Like my colleague Ash Parrish, I’ve always wanted to go, but I don’t think I’ll ever get the chance; the industry has changed enough that it is unlikely to return.
Even the organizers of E3 do not seem optimistic. The CEO of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) completely dodged GamesIndustry.biz asked if the event would return in 2024.
“We are committed to providing an industry platform for marketing and convening, but we want to make sure we find the right balance that meets the needs of the industry,” Stanley Pierre-Louis told the publication. “We will definitely listen and make sure whatever we want to offer meets those needs and at that time we will have more news to share.” Compare to 2022, when organizers were already talking about 2023 when they canceled that year’s show.
A press release from event organizer ReedPop gave a small glimmer of hope, saying he and ESA would “continue to work together on future E3 events.” But I just don’t believe future E3 events will happen.
The pandemic has proven that gaming can survive without E3. The last year E3 was held in person was in 2019; the event was canceled in 2020, took place as a digital broadcast in 2021, and transitioned from an in-person presentation to an online-only broadcast and finally to full cancellation last year in 2022. Yet even without E3 as an anchor, developers and publishers have found ways to make a splash that doesn’t include the investment required for a large booth on the show floor.
And when the pandemic hit, the industry already had a playbook to follow – a playbook written by Nintendo. Since 2011the company has had huge success with its Nintendo Direct video presentations, allowing anyone in the world to watch big game reveals without attending a physical show.
Since then, almost every major game company has embraced the format to create their own newsworthy moments, and they’re pre-recorded moments that can’t crumble on stage or could embarrass in front of a live audience. Videos can be posted whenever it suits the business instead of cramming them all into June, allowing them to create their own news cycles about upcoming games without having to share a spotlight with anyone. either else. Then they can send software to journalists over the Internet, without having to wait for a locked demo console.
The pandemic has also proven that companies can launch entire generations of consoles without significant hands-on opportunities before their debut. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S released in November 2020, and although constraints created in part due to the pandemic made them nearly impossible to find for years, these consoles have proven to be hits. Why bother showing new hardware at E3 in the future?
Now costumes know how to zoom and slack and teams, who needs an expo anymore?
For years, one of the sticking points for E3 has been that it’s a place where companies can do business in person, have face-to-face time and shake hands on stage to promote their brands. . But even executives have been forced to figure out how to do these things remotely during the pandemic, and may not need them anymore.
Major console makers have generally steered clear of E3 lately, anyway. PlayStation skipped E3 2019 in favor of hosting its own video presentations at different times of the year. Nintendo had already announced that it wouldn’t be attending E3 this year, and while that won’t stop the company from making news in June, it might just leave The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom talk. As soon as Nintendo pulled out, I really started to worry that E3 2023 wouldn’t happen. But after Microsoft pulled out of this year’s show in favor of its own LA showcase around star fieldit was as if the writing was on the wall.
And in the absence of E3, Geoff Keighley stepped in to fill the void. It kicked off its first all-digital Summer Game Fest in June 2020, and it’s held one every year since as a venue for E3-like game bombs. Sure, some years have been better than others, but with E3 now totally off the table for 2023, it seems likely that this year’s Fest will absorb some of what was planned for the convention.
I’m not saying that in-person conventions are dead. In fact, E3 hasn’t been the biggest video game convention in years – it’s a sixth the size of Gamescom, held annually in Germany, and other conventions around the world. abroad are also more important. Even in the US, last week’s Game Developers Conference had news and January’s Consumer Electronics Show was surprisingly fun, to name just two recent examples.
E3 just doesn’t seem to meet the needs of the gaming industry anymore – and so the industry has moved on.