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E3 is 100% dead

‘After more than two decades of E3, each one bigger than the last, the time has come to say goodbye’

People wander in front of the Playstation posters at the 24th Electronic Expo, or E3 2018, in Los Angeles, California on June 12, 2018, where hardware manufacturers, software developers and the video game industry present their new games. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (better known as E3) is canceled indefinitely. “After more than two decades of E3, each one bigger than the last, the time has come to say goodbye,” event organizer the Entertainment Software Association wrote on its website. “Thanks for the memories. GGWP.”

Once the game industry’s biggest event of the year, E3’s decline began when Sony Interactive Entertainment skipped out on the event in 2019 for the first time in E3’s decades-long history. That was the last E3 before COVID-19 quarantine measures pushed events online and developers realized that they didn’t need the hype of E3 to create their own E3-like experiences online. E3 hosted an all-virtual event in 2021 before it was entirely canceled in 2022. In March 2023, new organizer Reedpop announced it was canceled once again — and people began to wonder if it would ever return.

Now it’s confirmed it likely won’t. “We know the entire industry, players and creators alike have a lot of passion for E3. We share that passion,” ESA CEO and president Stanley Pierre-Louis said in an interview with the Washington Post. “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.”

Pierre-Louis acknowledged that developers and publishers have more direct access to players, something he said was “exciting for our industry.” Companies like Nintendo, Sony, Ubisoft, and plenty others have embraced the showcase format to highlight games from internal and external partners. Not only does the showcase format offer direct access to players, but it’s a lot cheaper, too — companies spent millions on their booths for the E3 show floor. E3 has been replaced, too, by Geoff Keighley’s industry events, like the Summer Games Fest and The Game Awards, which are more announcements than awards.

The first E3 event was hosted at the Los Angeles Convention Center in 1995, where it brought in more than 40,000 people. It’s been held in Los Angeles ever since, except in 1996 and 1997, when it was held in Atlanta, Georgia. The event maintained its massive presence right up until its last in-person show in 2019, when 69,200 people attended.

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