E3, what was once the biggest video game expo, is officially dead. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) confirmed the news on Twitter, thanking the fans and developers who attended and supported the in-person show for over two decades. Its closure was only a matter of time, slyly signalled in March, when the 2023 edition got cancelled due to a lack of interest from several publishers including the big three — PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo — all of which pulled out. Add to that pandemic-era disruption which caused global lockdowns, competitors such as Summer Game Fest, and the general audience preferring to catch up on game reveals from the comfort of their homes, eventually leading to its demise.
“We know the entire industry, players and creators alike have a lot of passion for E3. We share that passion,” ESA President and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis told The Washington Post in an interview. “We know it’s difficult to say goodbye to such a beloved event, but it’s the right thing to do given the new opportunities our industry has to reach fans and partners.” Several attempts were made to revive and reinvent E3, but online digital events became a go-to favourite for both fans and developers, who didn’t want to deal with the hassle of travelling long distances to attend a crowded physical show and spending large amounts to secure booths at the event. During the peak COVID-19 period, industry giant Geoff Keighley decided to quit working with E3 and took the opportunity to kickstart his own online season of games called the Summer Game Fest, allowing developers to switch on their webcams and promote games.
In fact, PlayStation even adopted that digital format for both its smaller State of Play events and its bigger showcases, as a medium to present a slew of video games at once and generate hype. Assassin’s Creed maker Ubisoft was another major publisher, who backed out of this year’s proposed E3 event and decided to host an online Ubisoft Forward show, albeit with select journalists at the venue. This year’s E3 was supposed to be held from June 13–16 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, marking the first in-person extravaganza since 2019. The 2020 edition was cancelled due to the pandemic, then there was an online version in 2021, and the 2022 E3 was outright cancelled in the hopes of revitalising it. And now we’re here.
Since its conception, E3 also served as a stage for some of gaming’s biggest figures like Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto and Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima. As such, the latter has shared his favourite memories from the show and expressed gratitude for opening the gates for Japanese games to flourish in the global market. Meanwhile, God of War reboot game director Cory Barlog reminisced on the time when he debuted the bearded and reserved look for Kratos to thousands of screaming fans. “Both loved and hated this show. RIPs to the E3,” he tweeted. At the time of writing, there are reportedly no plans for selling the E3 brand name, either.