It was recently announced that the Electronic Entertainment Expo better known as E3 was cancelled for this year. How did we get here, let’s start at the beginning. E3 started in 1995, in Los Angeles California. This event was geared towards video game developers, publishers and hardware creators to show off their latest projects to the press. At the time the video game market was not in the mainstream as it is now; so niche publications that were big in the industry were there. Magazines like: Game Informer, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Nintendo Power, Next Generation, Game Pro were all in attendance. They would get hands-on experience with the latest games, write about them in their magazine as well as to show pictures of the upcoming consoles and other projects of developers and publishers.

E3 became so big that companies started setting aside resources such as money and human capital just for their yearly E3 showcase. As the video game industry grew, E3 became the premiere event to introduce your latest project; whether you were a large or small publisher or developer.

Developers and Publishers were trying to outdo each other’s E3 presentations; it got to the point they were paying celebrities to introduce their games and musicians to perform on their center stages. For example, in 2012 Usher and Flo Rida performed at E3 and Joel McHale was there as well. In 2013 EA had Drake come out to introduce Matt Bilbey, Group GM of FIFA and he came out to showcase FIFA 2014. 2015 had Lil Wayne, The Weeknd and Jason Derulo. You would think with all of these celebrities & musicians appearing that attendance would be through the roof but it was not.

E3 initially was a professional trade show, but failed to generate interest from industry professionals. As a result, it became impracticable for developers, publishers and manufacturers to gain any media recognition from attending E3. This posed a serious problem.

By 2017, E3 had experienced varying levels of attendance over the course of 22 years as a trade event. To address this issue, it was decided to open up the expo to the general public, allowing individuals to purchase tickets and attend. This transformation meant that anyone could now witness what E3 had to offer.

Within that same year, a number of smaller publishing and development companies stopped attending E3 because it was no longer worth the cost. Two years later, Sony announced it would not be present at the event. Then in 2020 E3 was cancelled due to the pandemic. January of 2023 Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony said they will not be attending. After 28 years, in March of 2023 ,E3 has now been cancelled.

If you look at E3’s inception they filled a need. They connected the publishers, developers and manufacturers to the press. This connection allowed companies to develop relationships to assist with the promotion of their upcoming products. This was fine but as technology advanced E3 didn’t adapt with it. For example, when E3 started there were over one hundred plus publications that were print and subscription-based magazines that focused on video games.

In 2023; those publications are no longer in business or they are exclusively online. The tradeoff of this is there are more ways to get your message out here about your product; like blogging, podcasting, video reviews, live streaming etc. E3 however never embraced the change in technology and they just went with the status quo.

It came to a point where the developers, publishers and manufactures live streamed their own showcases directly to the fans. This was way more cost efficient because they no longer had to pay for a booth/stage or celebrities or worry about competing against another company. Instead of attending the once popular E3 event, companies now have direct access to consumers. As a response to declining attendance, E3 welcomed celebrities to join the annual trade show; however, this failed to make an impact.

Ultimately, E3 fell short in that it didn’t offer anything beyond what could be done elsewhere. The beginning of their downfall began in 2017 when doors were opened up for the public. In order for businesses and customers alike to find value, there has to be something unique and worth paying for. It’s like going out for dinner only to end up being served microwavable food, something you could easily have done yourself at home.