On the face of it, ESA says it wants to take a year off and reinvigorate the organization to deliver the best possible E3 in 2023. This approach has certainly worked for other famous brands in the past. For example, in 2015 Ubisoft made the initially surprising decision to stop publishing annualized data. Assassin’s Creed Games. Shortly after, Ubisoft released Origins of Assassin’s Creed, and the franchise has seen a resurgence in popularity thanks to their efforts. However, ESA’s true intentions in this case might be a bit more desperate than this press release suggests.
IGN reports that their sources claim that discussions around E3 have been “tense throughout the year” and that while the company has floated the idea of a “possible digital equivalent”, these arguments lacked ” strong momentum.” As outlets such as GamesRadar and GameSpot pointed out, the big game publishers don’t really need the expo anymore or even use it. Nintendo enjoyed a ton of success with its Nintendo Direct videos, which debuted in 2013, and Sony followed suit with similar PlayStation State of Play segments. Even EA joined the party without E3 in 2016 with its EA Play Live videos.
According to GamesRadar, these digital presentations are much more developer-friendly because they help ensure that studios no longer have to hastily cobble together demos for the E3 trade show. Nintendo Direct and PlayStation State of Play events can feature the kind of big trailers that were previously limited to E3 whenever they want, and studios can now release demos digitally more or less on their own schedules. Additionally, reports have long suggested that renting any space on the E3 exhibit floor is a prohibitive price. Why would companies spend tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars to book space at a convention to post a trailer when they can now just post videos to their own YouTube channels and Twitter pages dedicated for pennies on the dollar?
Put it all together and you’ll find that the increasingly popular consensus is that E3 is obsolete. More companies have skipped the expo in favor of their own exclusive presentations, and others may have already found a replacement in the form of Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest event (which is always planned will take place in 2022). While this is just pure speculation, many outlets and gamers believe that the cancellation of E3 2022 can easily be seen as the potential death knell for the convention. After all, it’s one thing to cancel the physical event considering all the outside factors at play, but the decision to cancel a potential E3 2022 digital event and hand over the floor to competing programs is telling.
At the very least, it looks like the ESA has canceled E3 because it recognizes the problems with the event’s previous format and wants to spend as much time as possible revamping and reinventing the convention. While we can’t say anything for sure, the future of E3 may hinge on these efforts to revitalize the expo. E3 could yet return in 2023, and attendance at the event could still help determine whether the convention has a place in today’s gaming landscape. Or perhaps the ESA decides there’s no point in bringing back E3 and cancel all future events (or even make E3 2023 the last and go out in style).
When you look at all the contextual clues, it’s hard to deny that E3 is in trouble. One of the event’s greatest strengths (a sense of tradition that has helped it stay alive and relevant in an ever-changing media landscape) has been shaken up over the past few years. E3 2022 could very well have been sacrificed so that the ESA could give the convention a final boost. the out of E3 now depends on this event of 2023 and what will happen between now and then. Will the expo return as promised, or is it time to finally say goodbye?