Critical Chicken
E3’s futureNewsTuesday, 12th December 2023 by

It’s official: E3 is gone, and it isn’t coming back

A sombre, funeral-inspired image. E3's iconic logo appears against a backdrop of gently drifting yellow and red petals.
RIP, E3.

It’s been a long time coming — but after years of uncertainty, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has finally confirmed E3 has been permanently cancelled.

Once the world’s biggest gaming trade show, E3 — short for “Electronic Entertainment Expo” — launched 28 years ago on 11th May 1995, and returned every summer until 2020’s show was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. E3 returned as an online-only event (quite successfully, we thought) in 2021, but was unable to bounce back despite numerous false-starts and failed attempts.

Spurred on by the success of the Nintendo Direct format (Nintendo was the first major publisher to stop doing in-person E3 conferences, way back in 2013), more and more publishers started pulling out of E3 in favour of producing their own online showcases. Sony and EA withdrew their support first — followed by Microsoft and Bethesda, Ubisoft, Sega, Tencent, and possibly others.

Throw in the burgeoning success of Geoff Keighley’s biannual events — Summer Game Fest and The Game Awards — and overcrowding issues at the dated Los Angeles Convention Center, and it’s easy to see why even a change of leadership couldn’t change E3’s fate.

In an interview with the Washington Post today, ESA President Stanley Pierre-Louis shared his personal reflections on E3’s demise:

We know the entire industry, players and creators alike have a lot of passion for E3. We share that passion. 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.
Any one of these major companies can [now] create an individual showcase… [and] also partner with other industry events to showcase the breadth of games. That’s exciting for our industry, and it means it’s an opportunity for them to explore how to engage new audiences in different ways.

Ultimately, I don’t think E3 ever really shook off its somewhat frumpy, corporate image in the eyes of gamers. But I was still holding out hope for an E3 resurgence, simply because none of today’s events have the same power to bring the entire gaming community together.

E3’s death might not have come as a shock… but still, it’s with a heavy heart that I’m retiring Critical Chicken’s E3 section this evening. Thanks for the memories, old friend.

E3’s futureNews