The news that E3 2023 has been cancelled is only a few hours old, and we are honestly kind of still reeling. Sure, we knew that the venerable industry event had an uphill battle ahead of it, with publishers pulling out left and right, but it still seems kind of surreal, you know?
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Entertainment Software Association (ESA) executive director Stanley Pierre-Louis explains what happened and what we can expect next. For the first in-person event in several years, the ESA partnered with event coordinator ReedPop, and Pierre-Louis explains that "we were off to a strong start. There was interest among exhibitors, industry players, media and certainly the fans. Ultimately, however, there were challenges that proved too large to surmount."
One of these insurmountable challenges was the current development timelines studios have been facing since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, and another is the resulting economic turbulence businesses have faced the world over. With less money to go around, some companies have begun to rethink investing in expensive booth space and massive marketing events.
On the subject of E3 returning in 2024, Pierre-Louis sticks to the script, stating that "we're committed to providing an industry platform for marketing and convening, but we want to make sure we find that right balance that meets the needs of the industry. We're certainly going to be listening and ensuring whatever we want to offer meets those needs, and at that time, we will have more news to share."
His answer is completely non-commital, as you might expect. For our two cents, we would suggest it seems like the era of E3 is over. With so many cheaper and more effective ways of getting the word out about upcoming games and projects, not to mention public hesitance following a devastating pandemic, the writing has been on the wall for a long time now. We just hope Sony has been saving the goods for that Showcase we have all been waiting for.
Do you think we will see a return to E3 someday, or are the glory days of convention-going truly behind us? Fire off your red-hot takes in the comments section below.
sadly they were never able to adapt with the times. why would a developer pay so much money they can do themselves and just live stream it? it sounds like it might not be over , but if it does return they need to completely rethink the format. having a big event trying to recapture the old days of e3 is just not possible in todays world.
Can’t say I’m surprised, although this sure makes Geoff Keighley’s efforts seem all the more impressive.
They need to change with the times. They must adapt their platform and embrace the streamer generation. I remember going to a games convention at earls court in london sometime in the late 80's as a teenager and it was a magical experience (not so much the aroma) but as the years rolled by these huge expo events have lost all the charm and become more and more corporate and boring..i just dont think these things are physically relevant anymore when you can view everything online for nowt and not have to sit or stand next to obnoxious,smelly teens or adults..
For me it died when Nintendo and Sony stopped doing their live presentations and started with their own Nintendo directs / state of play shows.
It's a shame really as although I never attended (difficult living in the UK) I did used to really look forward to it.
For gaming news, finding out about New console releases and specs etc it was, at one time the biggest event on the gaming calendar.
Sony put it in the hospital.
Covid put it on life support.
Xbox pulled the plug.
E3 was never really aimed at the Gamer - it was a Trade show specifically for Companies to tell the 'press' what they had in store for the year ahead so they'll tell the gamers in their magazines etc.
However, those companies now have a method to go directly to the 'Gamer' with a video/stream and reach far more people instantly everywhere in the world - all without the cost and hassle of attending a Show that really doesn't 'connect' with their target customers...
"Ultimately, there were challenges that proved too large to surmount"
Yeah, like nobody showing up 😉
Make the event a lot cheaper then. I heard rumours that it cost a fortune just for a metre of floor space. If you're the big publishers, are you willing to pay that just to show the press some demos?
@BAMozzy I think if E3 remained a trade show with big announcement live streams, it would still have existed, albeit in a smaller capacity than its heydays. However, E3 wanted to become a big entertainment expo while remaining a trade show at the same time. You can't be both. You can't show alpha demos full of unfinished textures to a wider audience. Shawn Layden mentioned this, many journalists have mentioned this.
It's crazy how an organisation that is supposed to be an advocate for the gaming industry, has managed to turn their biggest event into an event the whole of the gaming industry hates.
@Kidfried Of course you can't show early builds as first impressions count to the Consumer. A Publisher is looking for potential, whether it has marketable value so not necessarily bothered if its not 'polished'.
Also you have all these games that are 'early' in development being revealed that puts 'pressure' on Studio's to 'hurry up' and 'release', to keep us updated on progress etc when their only 'purpose' in revealing their 'project' was to help recruit staff to build that game or generate interest and/or investment etc...
Companies, especially during Covid lockdowns, realised they don't need the expense of hosting a booth at E3 and pushing teams to prepare 'something' in time to show, they can host their own showcase, whether its for a single game or a breakdown of the year ahead - at any time that suits them without the hassle and costs of attending an event in Person. Not only do they save money, this also is a 'direct to consumer' approach and can get 'their' message out first hand.
If companies are not 'attending' in person because its too expensive and/or 'easier' to make a video to be shown around the time of E3, then its obsolete. To get Companies to support the event, it needs to offer benefits and value and the 'biggest' value to them is Consumer engagement.
The state of play format works for reveals. They should simply do a playable demo to download when the sop has been aired (think old demo disc style. Multiple demos as part of the state of play download list covering everything that was revealed) .
It'd probably ruin some of the appeal for ps premium, but paying for the privilege of a demo is bloody stupid anyway so that's on Sony.
Not surprised, there's no reason any company would pay insane amount of money for a place and logistics, Most companies had this tought already, covid sealed the deal and showed live streaming was just fine and basically "free"
E3 failed to change and was awful anyway in the few years leading up to its demise, using "trendy" annoying streamers and the likes.
I don't buy the common refrain that big conventions and the costs were doomed. Other industries still have massive trade shows and promote them. CES still exists. SIE even attends it. The gaming industry has other large trade shows, TGS, GDC, etc. This is a problem specifically E3 related, and clearly does not involve the idea of attending conventions.
Someday it or something like it will return. Everything is cyclical. But it's really a bland time to be a gamer without it. That was the central hub of the gaming calendar year. This year we might get another #notE3, because everyone was already scheduled around it, but if they fail to pull it together next year, and I don't have high hopes, I just don't see the industry as particularly engaging to watch anymore. The staggered individual, overproduced commercials that masquerade as live events and random days and times just don't catch my interest. A big live presentation? Or a well orchestrated digital presentation? That's intriguing. Following monotone (or over false-excited) commercials made by an ad agency like it's a live event to schedule around? No, that's just not going to interest me. Without E3 I generally know less about what's coming up. I'm less excited for it. On the up-side it makes it all a lot easier to just wait a year and buy it on sale. I think real E3 would tempt me to be impulsive and buy things at full price. As it is I never do for anything because I'm not particularly hyped for anything.
@Member_the_game Yeah that's pretty much the same for me. They were on death's bed after that point.
@NEStalgia you are right. My partners workplace manages a huge convention, not same industry but same thing: after COVID they are back bigger than ever. It’s not costs, its not the economy, it’s not even the industry, it’s E3.
Something behind the scenes pushed several players out of it even before COVID, and it seems all big players have realized they don’t need it, and they don’t have to deal with whatever it is that was annoying them.
Looking forward to E3 40
Well, when nobody is going to show up.....
E3 has always it's magic. Live streams are just boring, but room full of people and their immediate reactions that's irreplaceable...
Btw somebody still believes in Covid? No one cares Covid more than a year.
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