E3 2023 has officially been cancelled.
IGN first reported the news before the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the lobbying group that organizes the event, confirmed it. Short for Electronics Entertainment Expo, E3 has been a major trade show for the gaming industry since 1995, bringing together the industry to make key announcements related to games and hardware.
In a statement on social media, the ESA noted that it will not be going forward this year with either the traditional Los Angeles-based physical event or any digital alternative. However, it didn’t mention plans for 2024 or beyond, and IGN notes that internal emails the group sent to publishers were similarly unclear about the future. Instead, the ESA simply says it’s looking towards “future E3 events.”
Ultimately, news of E3’s cancellation isn’t exactly surprising, given that the writing had been on the wall for some time. Last year, the ESA revealed plans to return to a physical show in 2023 after skipping 2020 and 2022 entirely and doing a poorly received digital event in between in 2021.
As part of that, ESA had partnered with ReedPop, an experienced organizer behind such big conventions as New York Comic Con and Star Wars Celebration. The two had teased a reimagining for the show, but in the months since, not a single publisher had confirmed attendance. Instead, we had only heard that companies like PlayStation, Nintendo, Xbox, Ubisoft and Sega would not be at the show. The ESA says it intends to continue working with ReedPop in the future.
This all comes after questions surrounding E3’s relevance had been raised over the past several years. Even in 2019, the last pre-pandemic event, PlayStation had already withdrawn from the show, while companies like Xbox and EA did their own events in the surrounding Los Angeles area.
In the day and age of digital distribution, many companies have taken to creating video presentations like Nintendo Direct that can be streamed via platforms like YouTube and Twitch. Naturally, this is far cheaper and easier to plan than renting out physical booth space at a convention centre while still allowing companies to directly reach fans at home. The past few years of the pandemic have only made such digital formats more popular.
THE BODY AIN'T EVEN COLD YET GEOFF pic.twitter.com/RnP6NN49Bc
— cσσkíє 🎮 Castlevania 🦇 (@ArcanaLegacy) March 30, 2023
One of the biggest examples of these digital shows is Summer Game Fest, a new format from Canada’s Geoff Keighley, the creator of The Game Awards. Keighley used to work with the ESA, but pivoted instead towards creating his own shows, like Summer Game Fest and Gamescom’s Opening Night Live.
Here's 15-year old me at the first-ever E3 in 1995.
E3 meant so much to me and to so many of you too.
Four years ago, I realized that E3 wasn't evolving as it needed to compete in a global, digital world. So we started building what’s next. See at @summergamefest June 8. pic.twitter.com/wSZqpz3wjY
— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) March 30, 2023
“Four years ago, I realized that E3 wasn’t evolving as it needed to compete in a global, digital world. So we started building what’s next,” Keighley tweeted in response to E3’s cancellation. He then plugged this year’s Summer Game Fest, which will take place on June 8th. Also confirmed for that month are the next Xbox & Bethesda Showcase (June 11th) and Ubisoft Forward (June 12th).
It remains to be seen if the ESA will manage to bring back E3 in 2024, but given the general lack of industry interest in recent years, it doesn’t seem likely.
Image credit: ESA