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E3 2023 Canceled [Updated]

This would have been the first in-person E3 since 2019 and was set to start on June 13

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Attendees of a past E3 event mill about below a sign for the show. Color seems to be disappearing.
Image: ESA / Kotaku / Frederic J. Brown (Getty Images)

E3 2023 has been canceled, as first reported by IGN. This follows multiple video game publishers and companies pulling out of the upcoming Electronic Entertainment Expo over the last few weeks.

In a report published on March 30, IGN said that two sources have confirmed with the outlet that the Entertainment Software Association (the organization behind E3) sent emails to ESA members announcing the cancelation.

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Reportedly, in these emails, the ESA said that while E3 is still a “beloved event and brand” the upcoming 2023 expo had simply not garnered the “sustained interest necessary to execute it in a way that would showcase the size, strength, and impact of our industry.” The email then ended with the ESA mentioning its continued commitment to advocacy work.

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Shortly after the IGN report was published, the official E3 Twitter account confirmed the news with this statement:

ReedPop and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) have announced that both the digital and physical events for E3 2023 are cancelled.

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ReedPop’s Global VP of Gaming, Kyle Marsden-Kish, also released a statement:

This was a difficult decision because of all the effort we and our partners put toward making this event happen, but we had to do what’s right for the industry and what’s right for E3. We appreciate and understand that interested companies wouldn’t have playable demos ready and that resourcing challenges made being at E3 this summer an obstacle they couldn’t overcome. For those who did commit to E3 2023, we’re sorry we can’t put on the showcase you deserve and that you’ve come to expect from ReedPop’s event experiences.

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E3 2023 was set to start on June 13 and end on June 16.  Kotaku has contacted ReedPop about E3 2023.

Why E3 2023 was completely canceled

In a March 30 interview with GameIndustry.biz, ESA president and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis talked about why his organization called off the big annual event, blaming Covid-19 and a bad economy as some reasons for the cancelation.

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“We were off to a strong start. There was interest among exhibitors, industry players, media, and certainly the fans,” said Pierre-Louis. “Ultimately, however, there were challenges that proved too large to surmount.”

First, several companies have reported that the timeline for game development has been altered since the start of the Covid pandemic. Second, economic headwinds have caused several companies to reassess how they invest in large marketing events. And third, companies are starting to experiment with how to find the right balance between in-person events and digital marketing opportunities.

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Pierre-Louis did say the ESA was still “committed to providing a platform” for the game industry to market new games and meet up in person. But it wanted to “find the right balance” based on the industry’s current needs. He also said the ESA will continue to advocate for the industry and its workforce, calling it the company’s “primary focus and priority.”

When pushed to confirm if an E3 2024 is on the table next year, Pierre-Louis wouldn’t say, only answering that the ESA will “have more news to share.”

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E3 was becoming less popular

While it hadn’t been officially confirmed by the ESA or E3 organizer ReedPop before this report, many had started to question if the annual tradeshow was going to actually happen or not. This past Monday, March 27, Ubisoft confirmed it was no longer attending the show. Previous reports had suggested Sony was skipping E3 this year, too. And Microsoft had already confirmed it wasn’t going to be on the show floor. It was starting to seem like if the show did happen, it might be a bit of a ghost town.

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E3 has experienced some rough times in recent years. Before the pandemic hit, the event was already struggling for relevance.

In 2020, the expo was canceled due to covid-19. In 2021, it returned as a digital-only show. However, the 2022 version of the show was canceled again in March of last year. ReedPop later said in July 2022 that E3 would “return to form” in 2023. And I guess it was right, just not in the way it expected.

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Update 3/30/2023 6:35 p.m. ET: Added comments from ESA president and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis.

Update 3/30/2023 5:35 p.m. ET: Added a statement from ReedPop.