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This Just In

The Many Reasons Behind E3’s Demise After Years of Cancellations

Frances Ferrante, Senior Editor
The Many Reasons Behind E3’s Demise

WASHINGTON, D.C. — When a phenomenon like E3 comes to a hard stop, the first question on everyone’s minds is, “Why?”

E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) was the premier event for video game developers, publishers, hardware manufacturers and industry insiders. It had a long history at the Los Angeles Convention Center, where it had been held annually from 1995 to 2019. This was the place where the global press got the first look at new games, hardware and merchandise, like in 1995 when Sony introduced the PlayStation.

In 2020, the show was put on pause due to COVID. It returned virtually in 2021 to mixed reviews, then cancelled again in 2022, again due to the pandemic and with no virtual event.

All eyes were on the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the force behind E3, when it announced it was partnering with ReedPop, a boutique group within RX, to produce the 2023 event. ReedPop is the producer of pop culture events such as New York Comic Con and Star Wars Celebration. There were plans for a new format that included a fan convention as well. But E3 2023, which was scheduled for June 13-16, was called off when the major partners, including Nintendo and Microsoft, decided not to attend. Then the ESA pulled the plug on the show altogether.

“After more than two decades of serving as a central showcase for the U.S. and global video game industry, ESA has decided to end E3,” Stanley Pierre-Louis, ESA President & CEO, said. “ESA’s focus and priority remain advocating for ESA member companies and the industry workforce who fuel positive cultural and economic impact every day.”

Related. ReedPop to Produce the Long-Awaited Return of E3

The reasons for the decision were many, among them new competitors, partner withdrawals and an evolving marketing landscape. Some developers and publishers were choosing to attend less-expensive showcases to market directly to fans, instead of using E3 to roll out their products to the industry journalists. In 2020, along came Summer Game Fest, an online event where publishers and developers could show off their games over the course of months. Over time, there were dozens of new online events marketing directly to consumers, such as Xbox Games Showcase.

“There were fans who were invited to attend in the later years, but it really was about a marketing and business model for the industry and being able to provide the world with information about new products. Companies now have access to consumers and to business relations through a variety of means, including their own individual showcases,” Pierre-Louis said in an interview with The Washington Post.

Three years of pandemic cancellations played a part, too, as game publishers transitioned to online news conference formats to make announcements and launch new products during quarantines.

“We know the entire industry, players and creators alike have a lot of passion for E3. We share that passion,” Pierre-Louis told the Wall Street Journal. “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.”

Reach Stan Pierre-Louis at (202) 223-2400

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