The Entertainment Software Association is insisting that E3 isn't dead quite yet, though the Los Angeles City Tourism Board of Commissioners would beg to differ.
A ResetEra post shared a snippet of the board's most recent meeting, which seemed to all but confirm the death of the once-beloved gaming convention. A footnote inside the meeting's packet for convention sales, dated June 12, reads "includes E3 cancellations for 2024 and 2025." While that doesn't account for its future in 2026 and beyond, it seemed like the final nail in the coffin. After all, everyone seemed to do just fine without E3 around this year, and last year. It was a shaky time for the convention even before the pandemic, but now it seemed almost certain that we wouldn't see its grand return.
Never say never, apparently, because a spokesperson for the ESA has attempted to snuff out any premature grieving (or celebrating). Issuing a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, the trade body says it's "currently having conversations about E3 2024 (and beyond), adding that "no final decisions about the event have been made at this time."
It's a pretty vague response to an almost definitive footnote from the LA tourism board, but it could mean a multitude of things for E3's future. My theory is there's a pretty high chance we'll see a digital version of the event return next year, culling the need for a physical presence and all the financial woes that come with it. It would make sense with ESA president and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis's comments earlier this year about the likelihood of an E3 2024, too.
From an ESA note sent to members (game publishers): “We expect E3 to continue to be a part of ESA’s storytelling and are currently in conversation with a number of stakeholders about what E3 2024 (and beyond) should look like to best serve the interactive entertainment industry.”June 22, 2023
"We're committed to providing an industry platform for marketing and convening but we want to make sure we find that right balance that meets the needs of the industry," he told GamesIndustry.biz shortly after this year's E3 cancellation in March. "We're certainly going to be listening and ensuring whatever we want to offer meets those needs and at that time, we will have more news to share."
Seems to me like a digital-only event is the most likely future for E3 right now, but even if it happens, will people be that bothered? The reception to its online-only presence last year was tepid at best, with our online editor Fraser Brown saying he didn't think it should ever return to an in-person event. "I'm glad E3 is going digital again, though I don't think it's going to survive indefinitely in this form," he wrote last year.
As for me, I actually quite miss the chaotic weirdness that E3 brought, but I don't think we'll ever get it back even if it manages to return with a bang. We certainly got some oddities with this year's Summer Game Fest and beyond—strange Nic Cage appearances and sea shanties abound—but as senior editor Rich Stanton wrote in March: E3's disappearance is a damn shame.