The Electronic Software Association has officially canceled E3 2023, following weeks of increasing speculation that the event was not moving forward. E3 has long been seen as the largest industry event of the year, going back to its inaugural convention in 1995. However, a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down in-person events, increased industry focus on digital events, and unhappiness with the ESA have derailed E3.
In March 2022, the ESA officially announced the cancelation of E3 2022 and said it was due to ongoing health risks associated with COVID-19. The ESA announced at that time that E3 would return in 2023 in a "revitalized showcase" combining industry events and fan engagement. Later that year, the ESA would confirm that both a June 13-16 in-person convention held at the Los Angeles Convention Center and an online digital event featuring shows from partners would be going forward.
All prior plans for E3 2023 have now been canceled by the ESA. There will no longer be an in-person event, nor will there be E3 online events. In a public statement from E3 organizer ReedPop, the cancelation was explained as "what's right for the industry and what's right for E3." E3 2023 was said to have not garnered enough interest to deliver the size and scope of an event that would be expected.
More specifically, ReedPop says that interested partners were not able to have playable demos ready, and that "resourcing challenges" made attending E3 too large an obstacle. As such, ReedPop says it would be unable to deliver the showcase what "you deserve and that you've come to expect" from ReedPop's past events. ReedPop runs multiple conventions throughout the year, including C2E2, EGX, and Emerald City Comic Con.
It should be clarified that while E3's digital plans are canceled, that doesn't mean that its partners and other organizations won't be moving forward with their own events. Summer Game Fest reconfirmed its digital plans today. Partners already include 2K, Activision, Bandai Namco, Capcom, EA, Epic Games, Sega, PlayStation, Square Enix, Warner Bros., and Xbox. While E3 may be canceled, an E3-like digital experience will still occur in early June.
Sadly, the industry appears to be moving past E3 and what the convention offered. The ESA isn't willing to say that E3 is entirely done just yet, however. Both the ESA and ReedPop confirmed that they will continue to work together on "future E3 events." That's not a formal announcement of E3 2024, but it's clear an effort to bring back E3 next year is already underway.