E3 cancels 2023 event, leaving Los Angeles without a major gaming convention

E3, which once focused heavily on gaming retail, has faced a challenge with a shift to digital storefronts and the rise of online, trailer-focused gaming events. — Ronen Tivony/Sipa USA/TNS

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, colloquially known as E3, was canceled Thursday months before it was to open at the Los Angeles Convention Center celebration in June. The gaming event, once heralded as the industry's largest in North America, has been at a crossroads in recent years, with major developers beginning to to opt out of the L.A. celebration in favor of their own more fan-targeted gatherings. Both in-person and online events associated with E3 are now fully canceled.

This would have been the first E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center since 2019, when the event was welcomed to the city with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with then-Mayor Eric Garcetti. E3's cancellation leaves a giant hole on Los Angeles' summer convention calendar, and without what was once a signature event.

The Entertainment Software Assn., the trade group that puts on the event, has in the past stated that it generates upward of US$88mil (RM388mil) in revenue for the city. E3 typically brought in more than 65,000 fans and industry professionals to the Los Angeles Convention Center and surrounding events every summer.

"This was a difficult decision because of all the effort we and our partners put toward making this event happen, but we had to do what's right for the industry and what's right for E3," said Kyle Marsden-Kish, Global VP of Gaming for ReedPop, the company that was to produce this year's event.

Marsden-Kish seemed to put the blame on the still-lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, stating that a lack of developer support for this year's E3 was in large part attributable to in-development games not being in a playable state. "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," the statement 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."

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Convention Center, where E3 was slated to be held June 13 through June 16, declined to comment. Video game focused pop-culture site IGN was first with the news.

E3's 2023 woes were no industry secret. An earlier March press release from ReedPop, touting that E3 was open for registration, included the names of not a single major game publisher as participating, and reports had surfaced in recent weeks that the likes of Nintendo, Microsoft and Ubisoft would not be participating. Sony dropped out before the pandemic and skipped the 2019 event.

During the pandemic, the online-focused Summer Game Fest, spearheaded by the Game Awards founder Geoff Keighley, has largely supplanted the E3 spotlight. E3's four-day, online-only gala in 2021 was low on video game razzmatazz and buzz was split among the two, trailer preview-focused events.

Summer Game Fest will return with a showcase event June 8 at the YouTube Theater.

E3, which once focused heavily on gaming retail, has faced a challenge with a shift to digital storefronts and the rise of online, trailer-focused gaming events. It fit somewhere between a more business-focused developer gathering such as San Francisco's Game Developer's Conference, which just concluded with 28,000 attendees, and the more consumer-oriented PAX. The latter is also produced by ReedPop and hosts events in Seattle and Boston that are said to attract more than 100,000 attendees, although it is unclear if that number is daily breakdown or a cumulative figure.

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