There’s no question that COVID-19 has changed the landscape of video game events as we know it. Either their in-person shows are going away (PAX South) or scaled down (PAX Prime from last year), or they’re becoming limited online presentations (like last year’s PAX East). One show, in particular, that may not have much of a future at all is the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
A Quick History Lesson
Originally started years ago in the wake of the end of the summer and winter Consumer Electronic Shows, E3 has been a popular go-to event for journalists and media types for many years. Then it went away in 2006, only to return as a lame multi-building Santa Monica event in 2007. Eventually, it would come back in full force to the Los Angeles Convention Center later, only to run into debacle after debacle. This includes letting the public into the show and letting them cause traffic havoc for long-time attendees, as well as leaks of information from said attendees in a gigantic security snafu.
Earlier this year, the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) noted that the in-person event wouldn’t happen again this year, thanks to COVID and that a digital event would once again take its place. Now there are rumors that this event is straight-up history, especially with other third-party showcases set to take place.
Long-time industry insider Jeff Grubb recently posted a new video that explains how the ESA is likely giving up on this year’s presentation. Posted below, he notes how the group has apparently decided that the digital event is “probably also cancelled,” though they haven’t yet given an official response.
According to Grubb, organization of this year’s digital presentation is already a “mess,” and instead of going all-out to make their own presentation worthwhile, they could be leaning heavily on showcasing games from Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest, which has been confirmed and will air sometime this summer.
Yep, Keighley May Have Just Beat E3
That’s an interesting turnaround, considering that Keighley departed E3 a few years back after the ESA announced that it would change the nature of the show from what it once was, going for more of a streamer-friendly “fan, media and influencer festival.” The company was already planning on introducing this style of event in 2020, but, alas, it didn’t happen. Now, Keighley could be looking at the ultimate opportunity of “I told you so” as the company may be leaning on him for support.
Again, there’s no official word on what’s happening with E3, but it looks like it could very likely be done for, at least for the immediate future. Other noteworthy events are happening online though, including Gamescom in August, the Star Wars Celebration in May, the Game Developers Conference (which is still rumored to be in-person, at least for the moment), and, more than likely, Keighley’s returning The Game Awards in December.
Notably absent on Grubb’s list is another fan-favorite show, PAX East. Though it is scheduled to take place in March, some publishers have reportedly already backed out, citing safety issues with the new COVID Omicron variant making the rounds. There’s no word yet on the organizers of the show planning anything different, but it could happen sooner rather than later.
So, Is E3 Finished?
Focusing back on E3, the ESA either needs to bring the show back to its former glory – leaving the public out, bringing back Kentia Hall, and making it about the media to cover – or not at all. There’s no room for a half-baked show that was a shell of its former shelf. For that matter, there’s also no room for a digital presentation that doesn’t have much to offer.
Hey, we’ll miss the good ol’ days, with some noteworthy highlights below. (Save for Konami’s press conference.)