E3 cancelled: the biggest games show in the world, is finally no more

During the 1990s games journalists and developers flocked to LA and Atlanta in their thousands to visit the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) for a week each May for a spectacular display of the games industry’s opulence. The E3 exhibition was a monumental pre-internet triumph year after year, but more recently, technology has moved in on its patch, as events such as the online-only Games Awards have taken precedence.

Known for huge launches and extravagant parties for show go-ers – Sony hired the Foo Fighters to perform, Eidos paid David Bowie to appear and stars of the small and large screen would often be wheeled out on promotional duty, E3 was the go-to calendar event for a blossoming industry, and one not to be missed.

Now, E3 is officially no more, although there hasn’t been an E3 since before COVID with the 2020 and 2021 iterations biting the pandemic bullet and a general lack of interest from the key players to kickstart events again in 2022 and 2023.

Prior to the pandemic, e3 was already in trouble, having to re-invent itself over the years, finally inviting in the public rather than just the industry, in order to stay sustainable. 

Now, with many game publishers choosing online showcases to global audiences, there is simply no room for an extravaganza like E3 to continue. Sony pulled out for good in 2018, but in truth, companies had been holding their events to coincide with E3 for a lot longer than that.

The end of a gaming era

The Washington Post interviewed Stanley Pierre-Louis, president and CEO of the nonprofit association representing the games industry in the USA, who said, “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.”

He continued, “We know the entire industry, players and creators alike have a lot of passion for E3. We share that passion. 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 biggest surprise may be that E3 managed to last as long as it did and its staying power and importance to the growth of the video game industry during its development stage should not be underestimated.

Featured image: Doug Kline, Creative Commons 2.0

Paul McNally

Paul has been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision. He spent over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title. Has written gaming content for GamePro, Official Australian PlayStation Magazine, PlayStation Pro, Amiga Action, Mega Action, ST Action, GQ, Loaded, and the Daily Mirror. Former champion shoot ’em-up legend.

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