Game centers

Game On: Electronic Entertainment Expo 2022 is canceled – but why?

Electronic Entertainment Expo recently sent out emails to potential vendors stating that E3 2022 had been canceled altogether after being relegated to a digital-only event in an earlier statement. This is a surprise given that the previous year was hosted online. Since the convention was unceremoniously canceled, there’s been a lot of speculation and very few facts that the Entertainment Software Association has decided to pull the plug on.

For those unfamiliar, E3 is the biggest event in all of video games. It’s a massive expo that typically attracts between 40,000 and 70,000 guests with its high profile panels and endless sea of ​​booths showcasing some of the biggest game publishers, developers, artists, voice actors and more. Growing up, I was lucky enough to attend a few unrelated conventions – namely MacWorld and Fanime Expo – so attending E3 one year became a bucket list item.

My passion for E3 has faded considerably over time, and I doubt I’m the only one. As the Internet grew in size and ubiquity, publishers began uploading their new game trailers to YouTube and social media. For the sake of tradition, they usually wait for their trailer to air at E3 or some similar event, but the time gap between the live broadcast and an internet upload has shrunk dramatically in a few years.

Beyond the novelty, is the participation worth it now? There’s considerably less incentive, and it’s only made worse by the fact that the biggest publishers have shunned convention in favor of hosting their own online storefronts for years now – Nintendo Direct, EA Play Sony’s Live and State of Play, for example.

So, while the COVID-19 pandemic is the obvious culprit for E3’s biggest struggles, the exhibit has been on a downward curve for some time now. E3 will probably always be considered the grandfather of video game conferences, but some formidable competition has emerged, such as Penny Arcade Expo, Game Developers Conference, and Electronic Game Show. Some publishers even hosted their own shows such as BlizzCon and QuakeCon.

And for better or for worse, the hobby has also become popular enough to warrant a pretentious award show equivalent to the Grammys and Oscars. very cleverly titled The Game Awards. But while I love to poke fun at it, in recent years I’ve heard more buzz about The Game Awards than E3 – clearly, they’re doing something right.

E3 is old hat. Its model has barely changed since its inception in 1995 – cram tens of thousands into the Los Angeles Convention Center, provide hands-on time with demos and new technology, make a few announcements and call it a day. The only big change so far came in 2017 when 15,000 tickets were offered to the general public – before that, attendees had to verify a professional industry connection.

While I think E3 is destined to be surpassed in popularity by PAX and GDC, gamers owe the annual convention a debt of gratitude. Before the establishment of E3, the game industry did not have its own space and only attended other shows such as the Consumer Electronics Show and the European Computer Trade Show to promote products. future. But gaming has been treated as a sideshow, and CES in particular has become notorious for physically relegating video game booths to the confines of convention centers.

E3 was created at a time when the industry needed all the help it could get to create buzz and proliferate accurate information about upcoming products. The other common method in the 1990s were magazines, many of which look amateurish to me in hindsight – misinformation was common, rumors often received unwarranted attention, and most publications picked sides in the console wars, showing a clear bias towards Nintendo, Sony or Sega. , depending, depending.

E3 gave developers a step to set the record straight and helped the industry create and maintain a more professional look. Even with dozens of similar gatherings that have taken place in recent years, there is something particularly worthy about E3 and I hope this year off gives ESA a chance to make the event even more special in 2023.

Riordan Zentler can be contacted at [email protected]