Why The Game Industry Needs In-Person Shows Despite The End Of E3

As we kick off a new year I thought it would be interesting to reflect upon the end of E3 and the impact of losing a large game convention to the industry.

I have fond memories of covering E3 in person for many years as opening our Arizona office made the annual trip each June something we eagerly looked forward to.

The pandemic paired with changes in the industry magnified issues that had arisen with the show and faced with new competition and a lack of developer support; E3 sadly ended despite the best efforts to return to live shows in 2023.

While many have cited issues with the final E3 shows ranging from the inclusion of the public to the lack of publishers such as Playstation and Activision as well as the departure of EA years previously.

While the PAX, Gamescom, and Tokyo shows continue; they are still not seeing the in-person support from major publishers as PAX West has seen a lack of the big three and with it Bethesda, Ubisoft, Warner Bros, and others an abundance of Indie publishers in their place.

While I get the financial advantages of not committing time and resources to a trade show and being able to make announcements on their schedule and virtually versus being forced to compete for attention on a forced schedule; I do think there has been a big loss to the gaming community with the end of E3.

As anyone who attended E3 and PAX West in their prime; the excitement of entering the floor, seeing the booths, playing the games, and talking with developers and marketing people cannot be replicated digitally.

A carefully edited video backed by a scripted and rehearsed stage presentation does not have the same impact nor generate the same excitement.

I rember covering PAX West one year and my wife telling me that Duke Nukem was there. I figured it was a Cosplay or a retro collection and was shocked to see that Duke Nukem Forever which had been an industry joke for announced games that never arrived was actually real after a seventeen year gap and was using the show for an announcement and hands-on display.

E3 had so many memories from the reveals of new consoles to the elaborate displays for Call of Duty, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and so many more.

I do wonder if there will be a happy medium down the line where publishers return to live events and hopefully it does not take the failure of costly and high-profile titles to do so.

I think about Hollywood who has been in the spotlight lately over their cost-cutting methods leading up to the strikes and how the losses incurred will lead to deeper cuts down the line.

They like the gaming industry went virtual during the pandemic but shows such as Wondercon, San Diego Comic-Con, The D23 Expo, Cinemacon and others have shown that studios see the value with conventions and putting talent front and center to make announcements and build hype for their projects.

It will be interesting to see what the future holds but I deeply miss the June treks for E3 and hope that some form of gaming convention similar yet evolved will arise in time.