The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, the long-running annual gaming trade show that brought together game publishers, retailers and press from around the world in Los Angeles, is dead.
“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,” the Electronic Software Association said in a statement. declaration on Tuesday. “ESA's focus and priority continues to champion ESA member companies and the industry workforce that fuel positive cultural and economic impact every day.”
Analysts who spoke to CNET cited withdrawals from major publishing partners, along with increased competition from other events, as reasons for the event's demise.
The end of E3 comes after publishers began to slowly move away from the show over the last decade. Nintendo stopped holding press conferences at E3 in 2013, choosing to upload pre-recorded videos online. Both Microsoft It is AND THE opted to hold outdoor events during E3, moving people away from the Los Angeles Convention Center. A big punch in the gut came in 2019 when Sony decided to pull out of E3 completely.
With more companies holding showcases outside of E3, the event's relevance has slowly diminished. As of 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, E3 has canceled or postponed in-person shows, although it held an online-only event in 2021. In 2022, ESA said E3 would return the following year, but finally canceled this year's show due to lack of interest.
The decline of E3 coincided with the rise of Summer Game Fest, a series of game reveal events organized by industry veteran Geoff Keighley. Summer Game Fest began online and in 2022 hosted its first in-person event in Los Angeles, noticeably taking place during the usual E3 event window.
See more information: Games industry expert Geoff Keighley shares his vision for showcase events
A world without E3 could lead to more canned commentary
While later E3 events opened their doors to allow fans to experience the exhibits and demos on the event floor, the convention had traditionally been the launching pad for news from gaming companies big and small. Without an in-person industry event, gamers looking for announcements and updates on upcoming titles will have to rely more on pre-recorded presentations and press releases from major companies like Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and EA, with fewer opportunities for press interviews and off the market. – fist comments.
“The real importance of E3 is that everyone was there at the same time,” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. Unlike the Game Developers Conference or the Tokyo Game Show, E3 attracted CEOs and CFOs from across the industry, according to Pachter. This also meant that mainstream press attended the event, attracting a lot of consumer attention.
E3 began in 1995 as a trade show designed to attract retailers to help coordinate the holiday shopping season. The show evolved into a premiere event that attracted mainstream press from around the world with bigger, flashier press conferences. As the retail environment has changed, with more online games and major titles arriving outside of the holiday shopping season, E3's central role has diminished. Having a program in the summer didn't really work out for publishers who were planning to release games the following March. This has led companies to display titles at their own events. The last in-person E3 was in 2019, with the final E3 in 2021, although it was online only.
“I find that companies are much less transparent and really want to control the message,” said David Cole, chief analyst at DFC Intelligence. With companies sticking to online presentations and not making executives and developers readily available, it's harder for the press to ask tough questions. In part, this is done intentionally so that companies can control their own messaging, according to Cole. Reduced transparency also makes the analyst's job more difficult.
“I can’t get honest answers from these companies,” Cole said. “That makes it difficult because you basically follow what they're saying in public and you kind of have to go out there and really dig to find out the real story.”
Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In addition to releasing videos and sending out press releases, companies will continue to rely on online influencers to guide public opinion. While some influencers are transparent about their level of access, others can receive payment from publishers to promote games, something that trusted journalistic organizations do not do. Cole said companies leaning on influencers has been happening for some time and it will take more due diligence on the part of consumers to realize how online hype is potentially being manipulated by marketing teams.
“The companies that pulled out (namely Sony) made a huge mistake and killed the program,” Pachter said. “EA was stupid to move their competing show across town on the same days and Microsoft was stupid to move to the Peacock theater (formerly Microsoft). I'm hopeful that the ESA will recognize the importance of the show and bring it back, but I'm not optimistic. “