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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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.
‘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.
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.