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E3 is dead. And for good this time

The legacy of E3, with over a quarter of a century of gaming reveals, platform victories, surprise success and crushing defeat has comes to an end
E3 is dead. And for good this time
  • E3 is officially over with no plans to return, the ESA has announced
  • The expo first launched in 1995 and has annually been THE place to reveal new games for every gaming platform
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After great difficulty transitioning into the 2020s, through a slew of challenges from the pandemic to rising competitor shows, to games companies battling rising costs or going their own way with streamed live events, E3 is officially over. For good this time.

This leaves E3 2021 as the final Electronic Entertainment Expo in the event’s legacy, and 2019 as the final in-person occassion.

An era of gaming comes to an end

Dating back to 1995, E3 had been an annual event that everyone - fans, studios, the media - revolved their gaming year around. The whole games industry sat up and took notice every May/June with developers readying their games for the showcase aiming to reach as many eyes as possible.

The world's gaming media would be on hand to report the latest and greatest, and the the world's buyers were there to strike deals and make sure the best games were on shelves for the all-important Christmas holiday season to come.

And so it was so, for years to come…

By 2005, E3 had solidified itself as an intrinsic part of the reveal cycle with the unveiling of the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 - all at one event! E3 was a hub of excitement and a massive marketing opportunity for companies big and small, given an extra dash of pizzazz with stalls, gaming booths, model game environments and more with floor space at the LA Convention Center (later to become the Staples Center) being rented for millions of dollars.

And by the final in-person event in 2019, mobile games were increasingly a part of the showcase too. Microsoft, Square Enix, Ubisoft and Bethesda each discussed mobile plans during their time slots with the latter even opening with a mobile title.

Then 2020 rolled around and E3 went on hiatus due to the pandemic with show owners ESA deeming it too unsafe and impractical to host an event in such circumstances. Supposedly, there was too much disruption to organise a virtual event at such short notice, but this already set alarm bells ringing for many - breaking an annual tradition that should have been celebrating its 25th anniversary.

E3 did return in 2021 of course, but virtually, with an app designed as a hub for finding conferences, forums and more. Then when 2022’s event was cancelled with no online alternative, all the signs were pointing to a deeper issue with E3, and a continued absence in 2023 attributed to a lack of interest from the game makers themselves seems to have landed the final blow.

Changing times

Since the pandemic it hasn’t been uncommon to see bigger companies hosting their own livestreams, doing so whenever they’re ready rather than rushing to the beat of E3's drum. Now, publishers both big and small can stream events direct to fans reducing the necessity of an E3 showing and relying on ESA to get the word out.

As the year wraps up and everyone got to wondering if there were even a slight chance of E3’s return in 2024, ESA has now taken to Twitter to annouce that "After more than two decades of E3, each one bigger than the last, the time has come to say goodbye. Thanks for the memories."

So that's it? E3 is really over? Unless ESA suddenly decides otherwise, indeed it is. It may be that after difficult years ESA are only putting the E3 name on ice and may be back with another event in another form to take its place. 

Alternatively there's nothing to stop any trade body or interested party from organising a new global landmark show at a location of their choice. But given the difficulties ESA have had in recent times, doing so would be a major undertaking.

So - for now at least - thank you for the memories, E3. It’s been a bumpy ride, but we’ll miss you.