The ESA reiterated that E3 2023 is happening, with a hybrid physical and digital presence in an attempt to bring the event back to where it was.
In a recent interview with The Washington Post (opens in a new tab), ESA President Stan Pierre-Louis confirmed that E3 will return next year.
“As much as we love these digital events, and as much as they touch people and we want that global reach, we also know that there is a very strong desire for people to come together,” he said. “Being able to connect in person and see each other and talk about what makes games great.
Traditionally, E3 is the most important date in the gaming calendar, and since 1995 it has been the cornerstone of the entire industry. However, it's been a rough few years for the show. Covid means he has missed two of the last three years and hasn't held a physical event since 2019.
Meanwhile, companies have found solutions to the void left by the exposure. Geoff Keighley's Summer Games Fest has apparently sucked up a lot of press conferences surrounding the show, and Microsoft is hosting its own standalone showcase. Even before covid hit, companies like Sony and Nintendo had opted to stream shows offline from the early June window of E3, with Sony in particular giving up its once-reliable summer conference for smaller State of Plays. .
I want to believe (but no)
(Image credit: Microsoft)
I love what E3 was about. The first show I went to in 2013 was a true dream come true, and I was lucky enough to attend several subsequent events and be in the room for some of the most memorable press conference moments. It has always been a highlight of my professional calendar.
On top of that, this current model of companies half-committing to summer exhibits spanning an indefinite period of time just isn't particularly compelling. There was always a buzz around E3, with many industry players gathering in Los Angeles in June each year to showcase their work and mingle. It always seemed quite unifying. I remember those times fondly and even watch old press conferences for "fun" from time to time.
That said, I am not optimistic about the prospect of ESA regaining the magic it once had. Even before Covid, E3 was struggling. As more and more companies pulled out, it got lost in an identity crisis as it tried to transition from an industry-exclusive trade show to a fan convention.
E3's problems are bigger than coming back after Covid. Like a host trying to revive a party that ended a few days ago, it will be an uphill battle for the ESA to convince everyone to come back after moving on: “meeting ended over the weekend Brian, and I have to go to work today". .
E3 was notoriously expensive for companies to host, with a large amount of money needed to secure floor space at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It's going to be hard to win back the bigger publishers when they now have a precedent of delivering their summer news through their own independent press conferences for a fraction of the cost. It's hard to see, now that the tie has been broken, why companies like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft would return to E3.
Plus, with Geoff Keighley's Summer Games Fest proving to be a reliable platform in recent years, companies no longer need to host their own show. If it's big enough, they can post an ad for someone else to handle.
Don't get me wrong, I wish I was wrong. Perhaps the ESA is willing to bear the cost for a few years and entice companies to come back. It's possible, but after years lost to Covid, would the ESA be able to lose money for long-term gains like this?
It would be wonderful to see it though. The new status quo of companies publishing their big summer news at random is a headache for a journalist, much less convincing for viewers. It's hard to maintain that level of excitement for weeks instead of days. That “Gamer Christmas” aura has passed.
There was a real community aspect to E3: people from all over the gaming world coming together in one place once a year, and it was always rejuvenating. I don't think that's reason enough for companies to want to buy back the E3 model. It looks like it's going to be very difficult to put this genie back in the bottle.