E3 2023 cancelled: Gaming’s biggest trade event and bastion of internet memes is no longer | Science & Tech News

E3, gaming’s biggest trade event, has been cancelled.

Once the obvious home for the industry’s biggest players to make major annual announcements, the show has been heavily disrupted since the COVID pandemic and usurped by other initiatives.

The likes of Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have become used to hosting their own livestreams instead, showing off their new games throughout the year rather than coalescing around a marquee event.

But this year was supposed to be E3’s grand comeback – with a multi-day, in-person conference in Los Angeles scheduled for June for the first time since 2019.

The writing had seemed to be on the wall for some months, though, with PlayStation maker Sony, Nintendo, and Assassin’s Creed developer Ubisoft among the companies to have said they wouldn’t be going.

E3 organisers Reedpop and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) have now announced its cancellation.

Kyle Marsden-Kish, of Reedpop, said: “This was a difficult decision because of all the effort we and our partners put toward making this event happen, but we had to do what’s right for the industry and what’s right for E3.

“We appreciate and understand that interested companies wouldn’t have playable demos ready and that resourcing challenges made being at E3 this summer an obstacle they couldn’t overcome.”

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Gaming fans play Super Smash Bros on Nintendo Switch at the 24th Electronic Expo, or E3 2018, in Los Angeles, California on June 13, 2018 where hardware manufacturers, software developers and the video game industry present their new games at the 3-day event between June 12-14. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Fans play Super Smash Bros on Nintendo Switch at E3 2018

At its peak, E3 was a mouth-watering proposition for gamers who could look forward to a whole week of surprising reveals and updates about their favourite consoles and franchises.

Fans would tune in from all over the world to watch news conferences from the likes of Microsoft’s Xbox division and Elder Scrolls and Fallout studio Bethesda, which included live demos of games in development.

Some fans even took time off work, while younger viewers stayed up late on school nights to hear the latest.

Sony Playstation shows the Spider-Man game as they demonstrate upcoming game releases during a news conference at E3 2017 in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 12, 2017. REUTERS/ Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Fans watch a demonstration of Marvel’s Spider-Man for PlayStation 4 at E3 2017

‘You’re breathtaking’ among infamous moments

The first E3 was in 1995, where Sony announced a release date for its first PlayStation console.

Highlights from the 2019 show, which was open to the public as well as industry professionals and media, included John Wick star Keanu Reeves promoting the then upcoming Cyberpunk 2077.

“You’re breathtaking. You’re all breathtaking,” he told an adoring audience.

Previous shows had seen a Microsoft executive roll up his sleeve to show off a Grand Theft Auto tattoo by way of announcing the next game’s arrival on Xbox; Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr appeared on stage to promote a special Beatles’ edition of the Rock Band series; and Nintendo’s former US boss Reggie Fils-Aime uttering “my body is ready” while showing off Wii Fit, words that would become a staple of internet memedom.

Other famous attendees have included Elon Musk, Steven Spielberg, Tony Hawk, and the late Pele.

Peter Moore, corporate vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business for Microsoft, displays a tattoo on his arm announcing that the game "Grand Theft Auto IV" for Xbox 360 systems will be available October 17, 2006 as he speaks to the audience at the Microsoft Xbox 360 2006 E3 media event in Hollywood May 9, 2006. REUTERS/Fred Prouser
That’s one way to do it…
Ringo Starr (L) and Paul McCartney, of The Beatles introduce the new video game "The Beatles Rockband" at the Microsoft XBox 360 E3 2009 media briefing in Los Angeles June 1, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES ENTERTAINMENT)
The Beatles: Rock Band announced – with the help of some special guests at E3 2009
Legendary Brazilian soccer player Pele (L) is introduced by David Rutter, vice president and general manager of EA Sports FIFA, before introducing the video game "FIFA 16" during Electronic Arts media briefing before the opening day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California June 15, 2015. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian
Late Brazilian football legend Pele helped introduce FIFA 16 at E3 2015
Film director Steven Spielberg speaks about the advance look he received of the new XBox Project Natal, new technology that uses Natal?s motion control to let gamers take control of titles using their entire body, at the Microsoft XBox 360 E3 2009 media briefing in Los Angeles June 1, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES ENTERTAINMENT)
Steven Spielberg at an Xbox E3 2009 show

What’s next?

Reedpop and the ESA have said they still plan to work together on future events.

In the meantime, June will still likely prove an exciting time for gaming announcements – Summer Games Fest, an online-only showcase that began in lockdown in 2020, will return and publishers like Sony are expected to hold their own digital news events.