E3 2023 canceled after major publishers back out of event

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After numerous major publishers backed out of the gaming trade show, members of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) have confirmed that the show has been canceled.

Originally scheduled for June 13–16, E3 2023 would have been the first on-site event for the trade show since 2019. However, only a few months before the event, major game companies like Nintendo, Microsoft and Ubisoft announced they would not attend the event.

Yesterday, committee members received cancellation notices from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) detailing the event’s failure to garner enough attention from publishers and developers worldwide.

The email noted that though E3 is still “a beloved event and brand,” E3’s first planned on-site event since 2019 “simply did not garner the sustained interest necessary to execute it in a way that would showcase the size, strength and impact of our industry.” The letter didn’t suggest any plans to continue the show in 2024 either.

Later, the ESA made a public announcement confirming the letter’s content and elaborating on the event’s cancellation. The announcement alluded to rumors of scheduling conflicts behind the scenes, with E3 organizers ReedPop allegedly failing to give adequate information to companies only a few months before the event’s scheduled date.

“We appreciate and understand that interested companies wouldn’t have playable demos ready and that resourcing challenges made being at E3 this summer an obstacle they couldn’t overcome,” ReedPop Global VP of Gaming Kyle Marsden-Kish said.

“For those who did commit to E3 2023, we’re sorry we can’t put on the showcase you deserve and that you’ve come to expect from ReedPop’s event experiences.”

Unlike the letter issued to event members, Marsden-Kish’s press release noted that the ESA and ReedPop would continue collaborating on upcoming E3 events. However, the announcement didn’t confirm any specific events or dates scheduled in the future.

E3 2023’s cancellation marks the second year in a row where the event failed to take place. In 2022, the event was canceled due to concerns about a COVID-19 pandemic resurgence. Even then, journalists and game pundits speculated that the event was canceled due to mismanagement or waning industry interest in the trade show.

After last year’s cancellation, the ESA promised to focus its effort on the 2023 show, promising E3 to return as a “revitalized showcase” that better integrates its digital and physical events.

Mid-summer competition

Since the pandemic, E3 has fallen out of favor among the general public and industry professionals.

Cancellations and lackluster digital events during the pandemic relegated the event to a footnote for most gaming populace. Publishers and studios grew frustrated with the ESA and organizers’ lack of adequate communication, as noted by IGN.

However, mid-summer remained an important time in gamer’s calendars, especially with the Summer Game Fest. Conceived by games journalist and former ESA member Geoff Keighley, the initially-digital event ran from May to August 2020 after E3 was canceled that year.

Publishers and developers like Electronic Arts and CD Projekt Red had the opportunity to showcase their games with mini-events under the Summer Game’s banner. Gamers could enjoy “playable, limited-time demonstrations” of game content from platforms like Xbox and Steam.

In 2021, the Summer Game Fest returned due to popular demand, showcasing even more games from many developers. Notably, it was the first site where Elden Ring premiered, a From Software game that would take the industry by storm on its release.

Both E3 and the Summer Game Fest are scheduled in June of 2023 in Los Angeles, though now, Keighley’s event may be the only cross-studio gaming event this mid-summer.

Summer Game Fest

Summer Game Fest is a live video game event organized and hosted by game journalist Geoff Keighley. The event takes place annually over multiple live streams during the American summer period. (wikipedia)

Entertainment Software Association

The Entertainment Software Association is the trade association of the video game industry in the United States. (wikipedia)


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