General Gaming News

E3’s corpse has finally been laid to rest

We’ve finally seen these ‘E3 canceled’ headlines for the last time. The ESA has announced today that owing to a challenging media landscape, they’re done with trying to run the event.

The ESA and E3 has been on the decline for years, and things were always expected to end this way. For all its faults, E3 was a great thing to have, while we had it. Since its inception in 1995, there has been a consistent presence of this entity that allowed the various publishers and developers in the industry to promote their products. Sure, it had a lot of awkward moments and cringe-inducing nonsense over the years, but it sucks to see it go.

The loss of publishers and developers accelerated in 2017, with multiple major companies in the games industry signaling that they would begin using online-only events to showcase their new projects. Over the next couple of years, attendance was higher, but the event began to feel a bit pointless. The loss of interest from consumers also began to influence the perception of the event as a whole, with many publishers picking up on it. The microcosm represented by this shift towards online-oriented and fast-paced media would end up going poorly for the ESA and its efforts.

As the events future looked dim, Sony decided to fire the first kill shot for E3. In the months leading up to E3 2019, the major console manufacturer and publisher announced they would pivot to their own event. The Sony showcase became the clarion call for the event’s future, heralding what was to come. It wasn’t just the loss of major presenters that was the only thing to happen that year. On August 3, 2019, a list of attendees leaked online, disclosing private personal information for various industry figures. Analysis of the methods used to uncover the leak only made matters worse, as data for over 6,000 attendees of past E3 events was also uncovered. The ESA rushed to cover up the data leak, pulling the information from their website—though the damage was done.

And then, of course, the COVID pandemic didn’t help matters. Lockdowns would force the show to shut down, and the ESA announced that despite early plans to continue, they would have to move to new plans. The ESA would try to salvage the mess, but ultimately the effort would fail. What followed was the cancellation of the 2020 event in its entirety. This cancellation in 2020 ended up being the signal for the last in-person E3 we would ever see. Amid this bad situation, things only got worse. On February 12, 2020, Geoff Keighley, host of E3 Coliseum and The Game Awards, released a statement announcing that he would also be forgoing his attendance of E3. This would mark the first time that Keighley had refused to attend, citing his unwillingness to align with the direction E3 and its brand was headed in.

E3 2020 was due to continue to offer public passes to the event, though the number offered was increased to 25,000 from 15,000. This was likely an attempt to staunch the loss of interest among the public thanks to the breakdown in the traditional news cycle for the industry.

The last breath of life from E3 would return in 2021 with an online-only event. The event once again lacked a presence by Sony and several other major companies in the industry. It was still generally positively received, though the lack in impact was much more noticeable. And then the trend continued. On January 7, 2022, the ESA announced that the in-person version of E3 2022 had been cancelled due to COVID-19, and a waning interest within the industry. Cut to this year, and pretty much everyone decided they were done with E3.

After months of radio silence about plans for the return in 2023, they once again announced they would be putting a hold on those plans. Though the ESA announced a return in June 2022, for the same time next year. They announced later that year that they would open the event to the public inside the LACC, echoing the plans from the previous year. Those plans fell through, as there was no event in 2023. The last gasp from the E3 grave was in September 2023 when the 2024 event was also canceled.

At that time, there were tentative plans to bring back the event via a full revamp in 2025. But that too fell through. The ESA announced that E3 had been discontinued, citing “the new opportunities our industry has to reach fans and partners”.

So that means we’re no longer dealing with hearing E3 canceled all over again next year. While E3 is dead, that doesn’t mean the industry is in trouble. The Game Awards went hard this year, and so many more digital showcase of new games and related media are planned for the coming months. So though the event itself is gone, the lingering influence of E3 remains.

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