The Electronic Entertainment Expo, once the biggest event in the video game calendar, has officially run out of lives, as organisers ESA pull the plug on the convention.
Once upon a time, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (widely referred to as E3) was the place to be for video game journalists, publishers and developers alike.
Founded in 1995, the trade show was first established as an industry-specific replacement for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. An invite-only affair which steadily developed an atmosphere closer to a convention than a suite of business announcements, the event has struggled in recent years to return to its former glory as developers and publishers have started their own gaming reveal events on their own terms.
“After more than two decades of hosting an event that has served as a central showcase for the U.S. and global video game industry, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has decided to bring E3 to a close,” the association’s president and CEO, Stanley Pierre-Louis, told the Washington Post.
“We know the entire industry, players and creators alike have a lot of passion for E3. We share that passion,” Pierre-Louis said. “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.”
The studio exodus away from E3 began in 2011, when Nintendo revealed their much-imitated Direct format – which saw figures such as Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aimé speaking and revealing upcoming titles directly to an online audience.
Sony followed suit in 2018, and the expo held what would turn out to be its last in-person event in 2019. A combination of pandemic disruption and a growing raft of competitors has meant the ESA has struggled to recover since.
While the news does signal the end of an era, Pierre-Louis seemed cautiously upbeat for the future of the industry.
“Any one of these major companies can create an individual showcase … [and] also partner with other industry events to showcase the breadth of games,” he said. “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.”