E3, the world’s biggest gaming expo, is officially dead

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, commonly known as E3, has officially come to an end. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), E3’s organizer, bid farewell, stating, “After more than two decades of E3, each one bigger than the last, the time has come to say goodbye. Thanks for the memories.” The closing sentiment included a nod to gaming culture with “GGWP,” an abbreviation for “good game, well played.”

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E3 faced challenges in recent years, with the pandemic playing a significant role in the decline of the renowned video game expo. Since 2019, there had been no in-person E3 events, with the 2021 edition taking place virtually. However, the ESA decided to cancel the 2020, 2022, and 2023 events altogether.

Earlier this year, the ESA informed its members that, given the lack of sustained interest and the withdrawal of major names from this year’s planned E3, the event could not be executed in a manner that showcased the industry’s size, strength, and impact. ReedPop, the organizer of PAX and New York Comic Con, was slated to manage E3 2023 before its cancellation.

ESA’s president and CEO, Stanley Pierre-Louis, acknowledged the industry’s passion for E3 but emphasized the need to bid farewell to the beloved event. He stated, “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.”

The decline of E3 was apparent even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Major players, such as Sony, chose not to participate in the 2019 edition, signalling a shift in the industry. Publishers no longer depend on E3 to showcase their upcoming games, as the industry landscape has evolved. The release of major titles throughout the year, the rise of live-service games, and digital sales have altered the traditional need for a centralized trade show.

Furthermore, publishers now have the flexibility to connect directly with fans through various platforms, avoiding the competition for attention at a trade show. The demise of E3 may impact independent studios that relied on the expo to secure distribution and funding deals. Smaller publishers could also face challenges in standing out against industry giants.

Despite E3’s conclusion, gaming events will persist. Gamescom, surpassing E3 in attendance and influence, remains a prominent fixture. The Summer Game Fest, initiated by Geoff Keighley in 2020 as a quasi-E3 replacement, has gained traction and expanded to include a physical event. Major publishers continue to hold showcases, and while E3 may be no more, the gaming industry’s vibrant events are here to stay.