Since its inception in 1995 through The Entertainment Software Association, The Electronic Entertainment Expo has been a valuable part of the video game industry.
The event, known as E3, has allowed various publishers to gather in one place to announce their upcoming catalogue of games. Its style of press conferences shifted over time from the mundane and expository to becoming a massive commercial event. The ability to stream the event online allowed the companies to grow their viewership, thus increasing E3’s influence.
However, in recent years there has been a change as publishers like Nintendo and Sony have started creating their own presentations rather than solely relying on the annual event. This self-reliant shift by publishers was then expedited by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
On March 11, 2020, the ESA canceled E3 due to “overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus.” This choice left publishers Sony and Microsoft to host their own events for their upcoming consoles.
This February it was noted in an agenda for the city of Los Angeles that E3 is a “cancelled live event 2021.”
Despite the physical event’s perceived cancellation, the ESA has confirmed that “we are transforming the E3 experience for 2021 and will soon share details on how we’re bringing the global video game community together.” These events led some news outlets to believe that the event will be solely digital.
Student Luke Arrington explained that, “E3 is relevant and will stay relevant. There’s a lot that goes on there, it’s not just a games expo.”
He elaborated with the idea that “it’s too big and there are too many people that believe in it.”
Despite this, he conceded that “after a while the cost will begin to offset the benefits developers may receive… or the expo will undergo a change in format.”
He believed that, “It can only get so big as it exists now.”
Another UM student, Jay Thompson, feels that on the contrary, E3 is losing its relevance.
“Honestly, I haven’t followed E3 in some time. I think it’s waning in relevance because there are so any game announcement and expo programs now, and E3 doesn’t own any game rights,” said Thompson. “I play a lot of Blizzard games and I would much rather tune into Blizzcon rather than E3.”
“It seems best to follow something like Reddit or another outside source for the most efficient game news at this point.”
He added that, “I think that companies will transition to having their own announcement programs following Blizzcon’s sustained success.”
Arrington agreed with this sentiment and explained that he “can see why companies would want to host their own individual events. Games as an industry have gotten so huge, I’m starting to feel like the effort of going to a trade show every year and preparing a massive floor show isn’t as valuable as it once was.”
With the precedent now set by other companies, it will be interesting to see which publishers will continue to involve themselves with the annual event of E3 and which ones will establish their own digital events.