E3 has been a staple expo for the video game industry over the years. This event proved crucial for video game developers, publishers, and media publications. Before the showcases were available on television broadcasts and later in online streams, E3 was a means to unveil what was coming down the road. Media publications were given a chance to check out the latest upcoming games and hardware in which they could report to their readers. But like everything else, the event started to evolve over the years. It became less about showcasing directly to the media and more about highlighting the upcoming games, services, and hardware directly to viewers at home.
But again, over the years, that even evolved with companies starting to take a step back from the marketing money spent on E3. Rather than pay for a massive event, the same concept could be done through a stream or video upload. So even before the pandemic hit, E3 started to see this shift, with the likes of Nintendo and Sony opting out of E3. Then, of course, as you all know, the pandemic hit, prompting E3 2020 to be canceled. That following year we had a digital-only experience for fans to tune into, and last year we saw the event canceled. But 2023 was set to be a return to the classic E3 experience, with fans and media attending in person. Again, however, while the ESA saw interest initially, things ultimately fell apart, forcing it to cancel this year’s expo.
The Gameindustry.biz publication spoke with the ESA president and CEO, Stanley Pierre-Louis, about what went wrong with this year’s event. According to their response, it boils down to three reasons E3 2023 shut its doors. Again, as mentioned, Stanley Pierre-Louis noted that there was interest from exhibitors, industry players, media, and fans at the start. However, that didn’t last too long, and it’s again partly the blame of the covid pandemic.
First off, Stanley noted that several companies were behind on game development because of the covid pandemic. Several transitions from moving studios to remote work production pushed back some of the game development progress. As a result, there wasn’t much available to showcase, and then you’re dealing with the economic headwinds. With the current economy, companies are adjusting their budget for larger marketing events, which may come at the cost of a showcase like E3 2023. Lastly, the third reason we saw several companies opt out of E3 was that there’s still an ongoing look into finding the right balance between in-person events and digital marketing opportunities.
With all that said, we remain committed to providing a platform for industry marketing and convening but we want to make sure we find the right balance for the industry’s current and on-going needs. We also remain focused on our issue advocacy work on behalf of the most creative and innovative industry in the world. While E3 serves in many ways a public-facing element of what ESA does, our primary focus and our priority remains to advocate for the industry and the workforce that fuels a positive economic and cultural impact.Stanley Pierre-Louis – Gamesindustry.biz
Those three areas might have killed E3 2023 in the eyes of the ESA. However, it’s uncertain if the marketing budget for these companies and the idea of doing their own stream showcase will lead them to avoid E3 2024. While we don’t know if E3 2024 will be in the works, it seems like more companies have been opting to hold their own stream or video upload lately rather than the extravagant on-stage media conference events.