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  • Writer's pictureDavid Baker

E3 is dead. Long live videogaming.

The death of E3 marks the end of an era in gaming.

Once the unrivaled showcase for the industry, it's now officially laid to rest after years of attempts to revive its former glory. The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, had been the paramount convention and media platform for the gaming world. But now, after more than two decades, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has made the decision to bring it to a close.

The annual event, a three-day pageant (with press conferences leading up to its show floor opening a day or two before), was once the pinnacle of showcases for companies’ forthcoming titles and consoles. As platforms like Twitch grew more popular, however, game makers and publishers no longer needed to rely on a trade show to make a splash. With the show’s poor attendance at what would be its final in-person event in 2019, and the ESA’s troubles with reviving the show post-pandemic, the writing has been on the wall.

The reasons behind E3's collapse are numerous: new competitors entering the scene, partners withdrawing their support, changing audience behaviors, and the disruptive impacts of the pandemic all contributed to its downfall. The efforts to breathe new life into E3 since its inception in 1995 ultimately couldn't save it.

The closure of E3 marks a shift in how the gaming industry interacts with its audience. The rise of online video conferences has made it possible for gaming companies to directly reach their fan base without the constraints and costs of physical trade shows. The format pioneered by Nintendo with its "Direct" presentations in 2011 paved the way for a new era of disseminating gaming news and announcements.

The departure of major players like Sony PlayStation from E3 triggered a domino effect, with other companies following suit. Geoff Keighley, a former collaborator of E3, parted ways and successfully engineered separate events, such as the Summer Game Fest, diverting attention from the once-dominant expo.

In April, following news that the ESA was again canceling the summer event, the reason was obvious: Streaming killed E3.

E3 had evolved from a trade show primarily for retailers to meet game publishers and creators into a multimedia extravaganza that captivated headlines and introduced gaming's biggest personalities. It showcased iconic moments like the unveiling of consoles such as the Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, alongside charismatic presentations from industry figures like Hideo Kojima and Reggie Fils-Aimé.

Despite its closure, the industry hasn't faltered. The void left by E3 has been filled by alternative events like The Game Awards. However, these replacements have faced criticism for their focus on advertising and marketing, potentially overshadowing the industry's creative work.

The demise of E3 signifies a shift in how the gaming industry engages with its audience. The proliferation of individual showcases and partnerships with various industry events signifies a new era, offering exciting opportunities to engage audiences in diverse ways.

In essence, the end of E3 marks the conclusion of an extravagant gaming era. The industry has shifted its focus, embracing digital platforms and individualized showcases that have rendered grand trade events like E3 obsolete. The days of extravagant booths and fever-dream showcases are behind us, making way for a new, more diversified approach to engaging gaming enthusiasts worldwide.

Why It Matters.

E3 held a pivotal role in the gaming world for over two decades. It was where major announcements, console reveals, and game showcases took place, shaping the expectations and excitement of gamers worldwide. Its demise marks the end of an era that was culturally and historically significant for the gaming community.

E3 acted as the central hub for developers, publishers, and hardware manufacturers to exhibit their latest innovations. Its absence means the loss of a singular, grand stage where the industry collectively displayed its upcoming products and technological advancements.

Beyond being a showcase, E3 was a networking opportunity for professionals in the gaming industry. It facilitated collaborations, partnerships, and business deals among developers, publishers, investors, and media outlets. Its absence could impact the ease and frequency of such collaborations.

E3 wasn't just for industry insiders. It offered an opportunity for gamers worldwide to feel intimately connected to the latest developments. Its demise may change the way companies interact with their audience, potentially altering the dynamics of how gamers receive news and updates about their favorite titles.

E3 wasn't merely a trade show; it was a cultural phenomenon. It brought gaming to the forefront of mainstream media and popular culture. Its absence might reshape how gaming is perceived in the broader cultural landscape, possibly shifting the focus away from singular, grand events to more dispersed, digital platforms.

The end of E3 doesn't imply the end of gaming or the gaming industry's evolution. Instead, it signals a transformation in how the industry interacts with its audience and conducts its business. Other events and digital platforms have risen to fill the void left by E3, but its legacy as a cornerstone of gaming culture lives on.

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