E3 is dead for good.
While the video game industry had already largely given up on E3 — once the largest video game trade show in the industry and the biggest video game showcase event of the year — there was always the chance it would return after multiple years of cancellations. However, in a statement to The Washington Post today, E3’s organizer confirmed that the show is permanently canceled.
“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,” Stanley Pierre-Louis, the CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, the nonprofit trade organization that ran E3, told the Post.
Pierre-Louis alluded to the biggest reason for E3’s precipitous collapse and ultimate demise: game developers and publishers had increasingly moved away from the event in order to put on their own less costly showcases targeted directly to fans, rather than the industry insiders and journalists that E3 typically catered to.
Even before the covid-19 pandemic in 2020 put a halt to large in-person gatherings, publishers had begun marketing directly to consumers via livestreamed shows like Nintendo Direct, Sony’s State of Play, and the Xbox Games Showcase.
Then, in 2020, after the pandemic shuttered E3 and other game industry events like GDC and Gamescom, Geoff Keighley announced his own show, Summer Game Fest, an online event wherein publishers and developers could show off their games over a handful of months rather than the concentrated week of keynotes typical to an E3 event. Over time, dozens of other online events began cropping up, allowing developers, AAA and indie alike, to market their games to a wide audience while avoiding the cost and stress of E3.
There hasn’t been an in-person E3 since 2019. The pandemic made E3 2020 an impossibility, but in 2021, the event returned as a digital showcase. The following year, E3 was canceled outright with promises that the event would return in 2023 as a hybrid online and in-person event. Then, that was canceled, along with the news that if E3 were to return at all, it wouldn’t be until 2024. Now, it’s never coming back — in part because there are so many institutions that have already replaced it.