To paraphrase the old Vietnam-era anti-war slogan, suppose they threw an E3 and no one came? We may find out next year, as the Entertainment Software Association told Washington Post (opens in new tab) that after three years away, E3 will return as an in-person event in 2023.
“We are excited to return in 2023 with a digital and in-person event,” ESA President and CEO Stan Pierre-Louis told the website. “As much as we love these digital events, and as much as they reach people and we want that global reach, we also know that there’s a very strong desire for people to come together – to be able to connect in person and see each other and talk about what makes games great.”
It’s not an entirely new statement: the ESA made the same commitment in March, promising a return to Los Angeles for a “refreshed showcase (opens in new tab)” in 2023, this will also include a digital component. But it’s an interesting reaction against the many and varied online storefronts that have sprung up in place of in-person events like E3, which have been canceled in recent years because of the Covid-19 pandemic. .
Major publishers, gaming sites, and Geoff Keighley have put together shows of various scopes to fill the void, and it’s widely considered a very successful effort. ESA, on the other hand, struggled to make this happen: it managed to gather a lot of “official E3 broadcasts (opens in new tab)” in 2021, but plans for 2022 were cancelled.
Still, Pierre-Louis believes there is a place for old habits in this new world. “I think the great thing about all this experimentation is that companies of all sizes are trying to figure out what works best to promote the product and content they want to share with consumers,” he said. “And I think there’s a space for a physical show; I think it’s important to have digital reach. Combining those two, I think there’s a critical element of what we think E3 can deliver.”
He may be right, but the ESA has a long way to go to prove it. Concerns about the pandemic have largely fallen by the wayside, but E3 now faces the even greater challenge of questions about its relevance. Events from individual publishers and programs such as summer games festival (opens in new tab) and The PC gaming show (opens in new tab) they demarcated their territory very effectively; What does ESA bring to the table that will make its legendary exhibition event worthwhile, for exhibitors or spectators? The further away E3 is, the easier it is to agree with Fraser’s view that the event is dead, and it should probably look like this (opens in new tab).