E3 2023 has been cancelled less than three months before the event was due to take place.
"Show organizer ReedPop announces E3 2023 will not take place as scheduled this June, with both physical and digital events canceled. Alongside the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), both parties will re-evaluate the future of E3," reads a brief statement shared on the E3 website.
The news comes after a number of major companies including Ubisoft, Sega, and Tencent said they wouldn't be attending the event, with the traditional 'big three' of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo having already indicated they wouldn't be showing up.
The cancellation leaves the future of E3 in serious doubt. The once-unmissable showcase has struggled to stay relevant in recent years, with the last in-person event taking place before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019. The 2020 event was subsequently cancelled due to the pandemic, and although E3 did return in 2021 for a digital showcase, organizer the ESA has now scrapped both the 2022 and 2023 events.
In a bid to reboot and retool E3 to meet the changing needs of developers and publishers, who've become increasingly fond of digital showcases that follow the 'direct' format, the ESA tapped PAX organizer Reedpop to reignite E3 with "titanic AAA reveals, earth-shaking world premieres, and exclusive access to the future of video games."
Talking about it's plans for E3 last year, Reedpop said it wanted to "build a world class event to serve the global gaming industry in new and broader way," and intended to "reshape" what didn't work about E3 to breathe new life into the event.
Those plans, evidently, didn't come to fruition. Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, which is owned by Reedpop, about what went wrong, ESA president and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis indicated that several companies were unable to commit to due shifting development timelines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that "economic headwinds" have also forced studios and publishers to reassess how they invest in large marketing events.
Is this the end of E3?
Notably, Pierre-Louis also explained that companies are starting to "experiment with how to find the right balance between in-person events and digital marketing opportunities," indicating that a huge in-person event like E3, which focuses on exclusive reveals and announcements, might simply not be as tantalizing as it once was.
"We did our best to reshape [the event], but in the end companies make individual business and marketing decisions about what works. It's an evolving landscape and we want to ensure we are meeting those needs," they added, before noting again that E3 represents a "significant investment." According to Pierre-Louis, that outlay is "a very different kind of investment than some of the other platforms they have been using and experimenting with throughout the pandemic."
When asked whether E3 will return in 2024, Pierre-Louis suggested that if the event does manage to bounce back from a third cancellation in four years, it might–out of necessity–look very different.
"We're committed to providing an industry platform for marketing and convening but we want to make sure we find that right balance that meets the needs of the industry," they added. "We're certainly going to be listening and ensuring whatever we want to offer meets those needs and at that time, we will have more news to share."