E3 2023 is canceled: What does this mean for the gaming industry?
| Johnathon Reyes
E3, the annual trade show of the video game industry where upcoming titles are unveiled and showcased, has been canceled for 2023—and many observers suspect the event might finally be over for good.
The Entertainment Software Association and ReedPop, which had been hired to organize this year’s show, announced the cancellation late Thursday. The news came after a growing number of game publishers, including Microsoft, Nintendo, Ubisoft, and Tencent, announced they would not take part in E3 2023. Both the physical and digital events were scrubbed.
On the E3 website, the two show organizers declined to address whether they would attempt another gathering next year, saying only “both parties will re-evaluate the future of E3.”
This was a difficult decision because of all the effort we and our partners put toward making this event happen, but we had to do what’s right for the industry and what’s right for E3,” said Kyle Marsden-Kish, global VP of gaming at ReedPop, in a news release. “We appreciate and understand that interested companies wouldn’t have playable demos ready and that resourcing challenges made being at E3 this summer an obstacle they couldn’t overcome. For those who did commit to E3 2023, we’re sorry we can’t put on the showcase you deserve and that you’ve come to expect from ReedPop’s event experiences.”¹
This is the third scrapped version of E3 in recent years. The last physical E3 was held in 2019, where attendees were able to get their first hands-on time with Google’s Stadia cloud-streaming service and Microsoft began discussing “Project Scarlett,” which would become the Xbox Series X. The ESA canceled the show in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and held a digital version in 2021 that met with mixed reactions, at best. In 2022, it once again canceled both the digital and in person show.
While E3 is dead, the industry is still likely to unveil upcoming games over the course of the summer. Ubisoft plans to host an event (likely online) around the same mid-June time frame E3 was scheduled for. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo will likely hold their own showcases. And Summer Game Fest, hosted by Game Awards founder Geoff Keighley, will take place on June 8 in Los Angeles.⁵
While many in the industry are mourning the apparent death of E3, the wheels for the show’s diminishing relevancy were set into motion a decade ago. In 2013, Nintendo broke tradition and announced it would not hold its traditional pre-show press conference, opting instead to talk directly to fans via a webcast and offering demos of unreleased games at Best Buy stores around the country in conjunction with E3.
That initial Nintendo Direct proved to be an effective way to talk directly to customers, without the filter of the media. In the years since, all of the major console manufacturers have embraced it, as have many third-party publishers, such as EA and Ubisoft.
E3 was once a spectacle that drew thousands of attendees and millions of viewers online. It was a place where gamers could witness history being made, such as when Sony announced the PlayStation 4 price and features at E3 2013 , or when Keanu Reeves appeared on stage at E3 2019 to promote Cyberpunk 2077 .
But as the gaming industry evolved and diversified, E3 struggled to keep up with the changing needs and expectations of its participants and audience. It faced criticism for being too expensive , too crowded , too leaky , too irrelevant , and too out of touch .
Perhaps it's time to bid farewell to E3 and embrace a new era of gaming events that are more accessible , more diverse , more flexible , and more engaging . Or perhaps there's still hope for E3 to reinvent itself and reclaim its glory as the ultimate gaming showcase.
What do you think? Do you miss E3? Do you prefer other gaming events? Let me know in the comments below.