The gaming industry is bidding farewell to one of its most iconic events as the Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, announces its permanent cancellation. What was once dubbed “video game Christmas” and served as the pinnacle for game launches and industry spectacles is now a memory fading into the past.
E3, a landmark event that commenced in 1995 in Los Angeles, was known for its grandeur, bringing forth a cornucopia of gaming announcements and sneak peeks. However, the convention’s website recently revealed a sombre message: “After more than two decades of E3, each one bigger than the last, the time has come to say goodbye. Thanks for the memories,” closing with the acronym “GGWP.”
The demise of E3 was accelerated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The convention faced total cancellations in 2020 and 2022, with a brief online-only event in 2021. Originally intended for an in-person return in 2023, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) ultimately decided to abandon the event altogether, forgoing even an online alternative.
E3’s decline had been evident for years, highlighted by the departure of major gaming companies opting to hold their own streamed events for major announcements. Giants like Nintendo and Sony had paved the way, showcasing their innovations outside of E3’s confines, a stark contrast to previous years when the expo hosted simultaneous debuts of new consoles from Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.
The shift aligns with the gaming industry’s evolution from in-person game purchases to online downloads, wherein gaming giants found it more beneficial to host independent showcases tailored to their audiences.
ESA President and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis acknowledged the emotional difficulty in bidding adieu to the beloved event but emphasized the industry’s need to explore new ways to engage audiences: “Any one of these major companies can create an individual showcase … 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.”
In a bid to rejuvenate interest, E3 welcomed the public in 2017, drawing around 66,000 attendees in its final in-person event in 2019. The convention’s transition from an industry-exclusive affair to a public event reflected the changing dynamics within the gaming sphere.
As the curtains fall on E3, it signifies the end of an era that once served as the epicentre of gaming innovation and anticipation, marking a shift towards a new era where gaming companies take charge of their narratives in ways that resonate more deeply with their audiences.