Like the video game with three endings, or the final boss fight that never ends, E3 refuses to die. Now the video game events world is doubling-down on it. ReedPop—organizers of PAX, New York Comic Con, and Star Wars Celebration—announced Thursday it will take over planning the annual summer gaming showcase, and relaunch it with a “return to form” in 2023. That move raises the stakes of an impending showdown with rival event Summer Game Fest held by Game Awards host Geoff Keighley.
E3’s new planners are pitching “exclusive access to the future of gaming” at the overhauled event, and say it will bring back publishers, developers, journalists, content creators, manufacturers, buyers, and licensors to Los Angeles early next June while also highlighting digital showcases and featuring “in-person consumer components.”
“For years, we’ve listened, heard, and studied the global gaming community’s feedback,” Kyle Marsden-Kish, ReedPop Global VP of Gaming in charge of the event, said in a press release. “E3 2023 will be recognizably epic—a return to form that honors what’s always worked—while reshaping what didn’t and setting a new benchmark for video game expos in 2023 and beyond.”
E3 hasn’t taken place as a live event since the global pandemic began in early 2020. It sort of returned as a digital-only event in 2021, but was then MIA again altogether this past June. Instead, the void this year was filled by Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest online showcase which also hosted an in-person “Play Days” event for media, developers, and influencers, in downtown LA near where E3 would normally have been held.
Traditionally a big week-long gaming news blowout event kicked off by major showcases from Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft, E3 has stumbled in recent years as big players have pulled out and opted to deliver announcements on their own terms via blog posts and livestreams. Keighley, who used to host the E3 Coliseum, loudly parted ways with the event prior to its cancellation in 2020, criticizing its planning on the way out. Keighley was then rejected from co-streaming E3 branded events in its digital-only return in 2021. At the end of his Summer Game Fest showcase last month, he announced the event would return the following year, a subtle shot at E3 which at the time still hadn’t announced any solid plans.
But E3 was in trouble even prior to this, with the number of publishers and studios in attendance severely dwindling over time. The event also opened itself up to the general public around this time, but without providing the sort of fan experiences gaming conventions like GamesCom and PAX have been known for. Then in 2019 the event accidentally doxxed over 2,000 journalists who had previously attended.
E3’s new planners are promising a “streamlined and secure media registration” this time around, with new information on who will actually be attending the event to come in the months ahead. In addition to making E3 relevant again, ReedPop will also have its work cut out for it when it comes to public safety in the era of the “forever plague.” A PAX East enforcer died earlier this year after catching covid following the Boston-based conference.
More recently, the LA Convention Center where E3 2023 will be held hosted the 2022 Anime Expo. Organizers for the event originally sought to loosen covid safety restrictions last month before fan backlash forced them to backtrack on the changes. On July 1, the event was so overcrowded the building Fire Marshall started turning attendees away.