E3 is officially dead, say ESA

“After more than two decades of E3, each one bigger than the last, the time has come to say goodbye. Thanks for the memories.” So says the official E3 website this afternoon, as the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) confirm that E3 is officially dead.

The future of the event (aka: video game Christmas) had been in doubt for several years at this point. It went away during the Covid-19 pandemic, but struggled to return in either digital or physical form. RPS owners Reedpop then took on the task of organising the first in-person E3 since 2019, attempting to resurrect it in the summer of 2023, but ended up having to cancel it in March earlier this year.

Now, it’s dead for good.

In a statement to The Washington Post, ESA president and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis said, “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.”

He continued: “There were fans who were invited to attend in the later years, but it really was about a marketing and business model for the industry and being able to provide the world with information about new products. Companies now have access to consumers and to business relations through a variety of means, including their own individual showcases.”

That “variety of means” also includes what is now likely to be E3’s sort-of replacement, Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest, which is decidedly not video game Christmas, but very much part one of Geoff’s biannual hype blast advert machine (part two being the equally interminable Game Awards).

Despite its troubles, I think the industry will be worse off without E3, and I do feel a pang of sadness I never got to attend myself. Sure, E3 was but another vehicle for adverts and marketing machinations, but at least it felt like it had some semblance of a soul, don’t you think? It was a concentrated burst of energy and excitement, not a marathon of strung-out streams and presentations that are now simply too numerous and dizzying to fully absorb and appreciate, and it will be missed.

So farewell E3. It’s been real.

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