E3 Gaming Expo Cancelled for 2023

Wim De Gent
By Wim De Gent
March 31, 2023Science & Tech
E3 Gaming Expo Cancelled for 2023
Cellphone users stand beside a Verizon 5G display at the 2019 Electronic Entertainment Expo, also known as E3, in Los Angeles on June 12, 2019. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

The gaming industry’s big summer festival E3 has been canceled after major gaming publishers and console manufacturers announced they wouldn’t participate in the event.

On Thursday, E3 owner Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and organizer Reedpop announced that this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) was canceled—not postponed.

The expo was scheduled for June 13 through 16.

The last time the iconic gaming event occurred was four years ago, in 2019, the year before the COVID pandemic. In 2021, E3 was held as an all-digital event. The show was set to return in 2022 but was canceled in the uncertainty of the waning pandemic.

In January, console manufacturers Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft had already announced that they would not be participating in the gaming expo. An increasing number of high-profile game publishers followed suit, including Sega and Tencent (owner of Level Infinite).

The final blow came on Monday, when gaming giant Ubisoft, of Assassin’s Creed fame, announced it would not attend E3.

In a statement issued to Video Games Chronicle, the company said it had decided to “move in a different direction.” It will hold its Ubisoft Forward Live event in LA on June 12.

Earlier, Microsoft announced it would air an Xbox showcase coinciding with E3’s dates on June 11.

The pandemic’s cancellation of live events spurred big players in the industry to hold their own promotion events in the form of digital live streams. This practice is steadily becoming a matter of course.

In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, the business-to-business publication owned by ReedPop, ESA president Stanley Pierre-Louis shared his understanding of the situation. He identified three reasons for E3’s cancellation. First, “several companies have reported that the timeline for game development has been altered since the start of the COVID pandemic,” Stanley Pierre-Louis said.

“Second, economic headwinds have caused several companies to reassess how they invest in large marketing events,” the ESA president continued. “And third, companies are starting to experiment with how to find the right balance between in-person events and digital marketing opportunities.”

Whether E3 will return remains a question. “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,” Stanley Pierre-Louis said.

A “knowledgeable source” told IGN about “ongoing frustrations” within the ESA over the alleged mishandling of the E3 brand over the last three years. According to the source, these troubles spilled over to organizer Reedpop, “There’s not a good sense that there’s an understanding what this show is going to be or how it will come together, which is strange from a company that does such an amazing job with PAX twice a year.”

E3 has been instrumental in bringing the world of gaming to the mainstream. Its first event was held in 1995 at the Los Angeles Convention Center and was an instant success.

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