RIP Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3): 1995-2023

The inevitable is official.

4 mins read
Farewell E3.

The iconic E3 will not be returning. Ever. Officially. I can’t image this comes to anyone’s surprise, as the expo has seen a sharp decline in interest over the past 5+ years. It has been replaced mostly by digital events such as Nintendo Direct and smaller (yet still large-scale) events like PAX. Quite honestly, its downfall can also at partially be attributed to Geoff Keighley’s departure from the event and his budding empire that includes Summer Game Fest and The Game Awards. The news of E3’s permanent cancellation was announced today via the E3 website and Twitter account.

The website is now comprised of a single page. Videos of people enjoying E3 are running in the background and the text reads, “After more than two decades of E3, each one bigger than the last, the time has come to say goodbye. Thanks for the memories. GGWP.” The Twitter account posted the same statement (but only via image, which is a complaint for a different day).

The image from E3's tweet about its cancellation. It reads, "After more than two decades of E3, each one bigger than the last, the time has come to say goodbye. Thanks for the memories. GGWP."

E3’s end began back in November 2018 when Sony decided to leave the event. Matt wrote about the move at the time, stating, “Unfortunately for E3, the event has morphed from an industry event to a consumer marketing exercise, and, given the costs involved in participating in E3, developers and publishers are coming to realise they can simply hold their own online events or shows instead. There’s very little of value that E3 offers the games industry now, so don’t be surprised if Sony isn’t the last major company to drop out.” And it wasn’t. Then in 2020 (the pre-COVID part) Geoff Keighley announced that for the first time, he would be participating in E3 moving forward; he believed the event needed to evolve, which he wasn’t wrong about. It’s just a shame that those evolutions include Summer Game Fest and The Game Awards.

E3 2020 ended up being cancelled anyway, due to COVID lockdowns. There was an all-digital E3 in 2021 (DDNet’s wrap-up, now the last ever for E3, can be found here), but I think by then it was too late. E3 needed to somehow be revamped between 2019 and 2021 and it just didn’t happen. E3 2022 was supposed to be a go, but the in-person event was cancelled followed up by the digital event also being canned. In 2023 the event was cancelled a month and a half before it was scheduled to take place, mostly due to lack of interest. In September, event producer ReedPop announced that it would no longer be working on future E3 events – another really, really bad sign. And now, as the year wraps up, it is confirmed that 2021 was the final iteration of E3.

Some seem overjoyed by E3’s demise, which is odd to me. Yes, it had its issues, including location, major companies dropping out, shifting audiences, and of course COVID. But everyone involved in the gaming industry in some way, from players to developers, has a lot to thank E3 for. It might be the right time for it to go but that doesn’t mean we have to forget all the good that came of it. Just think of the number of people now collaborating that might not have met, or the indies that might not have found someone to run PR. Also, we’re basically handing the industry to Geoff Keighley and that feels icky.

For better or worse, E3 helped make the industry what it is today. Thank you for over two decades, E3.

Lindsay picked up an NES controller for the first time at the age of 6 and instantly fell in love. She began reviewing GBA games 20 years ago and quickly branched out from her Nintendo comfort zone. She has has developed a great love of life sims and FMV titles. For her, accessibility is one of the most important parts of any game (but she also really appreciates good UI).

  • I think the ESA should produce an awards show in January/February (whichever works out better to get it running smoothly; plus then we can have the entire calendar year covered). They could work to make it THE preeminent awards show – focusing on the wonderful games of the past year & the people who made them. Geoff & Gamescom have the preview shows pretty much wrapped, but nobody’d argue that we need a better awards show.

    • Yes, I think something like that would be a very good idea. Awards shows can be controversial, but the Academy Awards, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize all show how important they are to the discourse around the art forms, so we need an equivalent for games.

  • Previous Story

    Review: Xuan-Yuan Sword: Mists Beyond The Mountains (Nintendo Switch)

    Next Story

    Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty’s final DLC, Upheaval in Jingxiang, is available now

    Latest Articles