Well, it’s official: E3 is dead.
The previous years haven’t been kind to the Electronic Entertainment Expo as the world shutting down for the past several years shuttered down events like this all over the world. Even before then, however, E3 was already in trouble as major video game stakeholders like Sony and Nintendo were already pulling out of the event and opting to focus on creating their own online showcases.
This year, the final nail in the coffin was hammered in, with the previously only remaining major holdout, Microsoft, pulled out of the show, deciding to take the route its competitors have been taking. Other major game publishers, such as Sega and Bandai Namco, have also pulled out of E3 this year. On the 30th of March of this year, it was officially announced E3 will be cancelled, not because of a world shaking event which forced people to hide in their homes, but because of a general lack of interest. The people behind the event are trying to put an optimistic spin on it by saying E3 might be back next year. I’m not holding my breath, though.
I was pretty bummed by the news for a lot of reasons. Least of them being it feels like the end of an era. Say what you will about E3, there was something about the entire spectacle of having most of the gaming world converge into one spot. It felt really big and beautiful, as if it was this grand celebration of upcoming games. This was the one time of the year when all gaming companies put their best foot forward and displayed to the gaming public what to expect. E3 was the time when gamers would be able to see what was coming over the horizon in the near future as all of the biggest game announcements would be made. It felt like it was a truly special time to be alive when you were a gamer.
There were also a ton of momentous moments, both epic and cringey, which came out of E3. Without the show, we would never had Nintendo’s Reggie Fil-Aime’s epic “my body is ready” quote, Keanu Reeves showing up to reveal Cyberpunk 2077, Kevin Butler giving a “heartfelt” speech about gaming, Sony’s 2015 E3 blowing gamers’ minds with trailers for Shenmue III and Final Fantasy VII Remake and so much more. There were so many good (and bad) moments throughout E3’s storied history to name here and they wouldn’t have happened if it never came to be.
The writing was on the wall, however. Even in 2019, before the world shuttered down and closed down all in-person events all over the world, gamers felt the inkling that E3 wasn’t long for this world. That’s because that was the year when Sony, of all companies, announced they weren’t going to participate in E3 and followed Nintendo in putting out their own digital events instead. It was only a matter of time until the last holdout, Microsoft, would follow suit… which they finally did just a few months ago.
If you really think about things, however, is there still a need for a big convention like E3 nowadays? I would say a showcase for upcoming video games was needed when the idea of a big Electronic Entertainment Expo was just an idea. Before, video game console makers and game developers would have to go to the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, in order to hawk their wares. It was okay for its time but video games definitely wasn’t the focus of CES. Gaming was treated more like a sideshow instead of the main attractions. Very understandable as, well, video games were thought of to be more of a niche hobby. The Electronics Entertainment Expo was created so that the video games industry didn’t have to slosh around CES as a bit player. E3 was made so gaming could be the main event.
E3 then became the way for video game console makers and game developers to hype up future consumers on what they have in store. However, the only way for consumer to find out what to get hyped about was still through the traditional means at the time. This meant gamers having to scan through television broadcasts hoping the news covered some big announcement at the show or wait for the latest video game magazine to write up all the new stuff shown.
Times have changed and the way all forms of news have changed with it. The Internet came about and gaming websites started to pop up, making it possible to find out what happened on E3 as it happened. Internet speeds starting getting faster, enabling the streaming of the actual video game conferences. This meant anyone with a decent Internet connection could go watch all the E3 press conferences from the comfort of their own homes and not pay a plane ticket to physically go there and shell out exorbitant amounts of money on hotel rooms and food.
This also meant game companies didn’t need to wait for E3 to announce their upcoming big releases. They could just do it online. Maybe even put together something like a showcase, compiling all of the video games they’re going to be releasing in the near future. They could even put together entertaining video packages instead of dry and predictable press conferences, all stitched together and edited together without worrying if something might glitch out while you’re on stage with millions of eyes all around the world watching your blunder. So, with game makers having the ability to do all this, why even participate in E3 anymore?
However, while E3 might officially be dead as the official trade show won’t be happening this year, at least, it’s still going to be happening in a way. We all know Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest is still going to be coming out at around the time when E3 was going to happen. Microsoft already slated their Xbox and Bethesda Showcase during that time period as well. Sony is rumored to be putting together a State of Play showcase in a month of so, which still falls close enough during E3’s original time period. Oh, you can bet Nintendo will be releasing another Nintendo Treehouse at around this time as well. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if developers and publishers like Devolver Digital, Ubisoft and Square Enix doing a “press conference” type thing in a couple of months.
While it does seem like it’s dead, the spirit of E3 is still going to be haunting the gaming world for years to come. The week as to when E3 happens has become ubiquitous to gamers everywhere so I don’t think game developers, publishers and video game console makers won’t be using this time period to still be making their super big announcements. E3 might not be happening anymore… but it’s still going to be a thing this year. It’s just going to be a little different this time around.
E3 is dead! Long live E3!
What are your thoughts on E3 getting cancelled this year and possibly ending forever? Let me know in the comments section below!
One thought on “Episode 509: E3 May Be Dead But It’s Not Gone”
I can’t help, but feel a little sad about the state of E3. It truly is the end of an era. I always wanted to be able to attend E3 and meet the likes of Reggie and the late Satoru Iwata all while seeing he new software being unveiled. I do think the event was showing signs of decline mainly due to it feeling more commercialized with each passing year. There’s no fluff when it comes to presentations like Nintendo Direct and State of Play. They show the games and don’t pad things. It might be all for the better, but it’ll be missed for sure. Good read.