E3 Strikes

Pour one out for the death of another long-standing event that is likely never to return. This week it was announced that the E3 video game expo was officially canceled. The in-person and virtual portions were all scrapped. While E3 was surely a victim of COVID and the inability for people to go to conferences, it seems that companies discovered they simply didn't need E3 to make a splash. Sam Machkovech at ArsTechnica has more.

Many gaming companies, including formal members of the ESA, have gotten along just fine for years without formal E3 presentations. Sony, EA, Activision Blizzard, and other game publishers began skipping E3's in-person event in 2019 by either hosting events outside E3's halls or hosting digital presentations—well before the latter became the norm. E3 2020 was already struggling with cooperation from major gaming companies before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the shuttering of its in-person incarnation.


There are notable companies who have realized that the annual industry conferences of yore are simply obsolete. Apple famously ducked out of MacWorld shortly after announcing the iPhone. The MacWorld conference is no more. Nintendo stopped doing live keynotes a long time ago and it's paid huge dividends. Their "directs" are polished, pre-recorded events that really land well and people enjoy watching them, including me. Even CES this year looked to be a complete cluster.

Customer-oriented events I think will continue to do well, in my opinion. PAX, ComicCon, and Fan Expo will draw people because those aren't just halls of exhibitors but events to see panels, meet celebs, and buy things. But the days of companies needing a conference to gain media attention are long gone. If Apple, LG, Google, Samsung, or anyone else wants to announce stuff, they just hold an event themselves. They don't need E3 or anyone else to do it for them.

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