E3 2023 has been announced – I’ll believe it when I see it

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The ESA has reiterated that E3 2023 is happening, with a hybrid physical and digital presence as it tries to get the event back to where it was. 

In a recent interview with the Washington Post, ESA president Stan Pierre-Louis doubled down on the claim that E3 will be back next year.

“As much as we love these digital events, and as much as they reach people and we want that global reach, we also know that there’s a really strong desire for people to convene," he said. "To be able to connect in person and see each other and talk about what makes games great.”

Traditionally E3 has been the biggest date on the gaming calendar, and since 1995, it's been a cornerstone of the entire industry. However, it’s been a rough few years for the show. Covid means that it's missed two of the last three years, and hasn’t held a physical event since 2019. 

In that time, companies have found solutions to the void the expo left. Geoff Keighley’s Summer Games Fest has seemingly absorbed many of the press conferences around the show, and Microsoft hosts its own independent showcase. Even before Covid hit, companies like Sony and Nintendo had opted to run shows disconnected from E3's early June window, with Sony in particular foregoing its once-reliable summer conference for smaller State of Plays

I want to believe (but I don’t)

Phil Spencer on stage at E3 2018

(Image credit: Microsoft)

I love what E3 was. The first show I went to in 2013 was a real dream come true, and I was lucky enough to go to several subsequent events, and be in the room for some of the most memorable press conference moments. It was always a highlight of my professional calendar. 

On top of that, this current model of companies half committing to summer showcases that are spread out over an undefined period of time is just not particularly compelling. There was always a huge sense of buzz around E3 time, with lots of the industry convening in LA in June every year to show off their work and mingle. It always felt pretty unifying. I look back at those times fondly and even watch old press conferences for ‘fun’ from time to time.

That all being said, I am not optimistic about the ESA’s prospect of recapturing the magic it once had. Even before Covid, E3 was struggling. More and more companies were pulling out, and it was lost in an identity crisis as it tried to transition from an industry-only trade show, to a fan convention. 

E3’s problems are bigger than returning after Covid. Like a host trying to revive a party that ended a couple of days ago, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the ESA to convince everyone to come back after they’ve moved on – “the get-together ended at the weekend Brian, and I have to go to work today.”

E3 was notoriously expensive for companies to showcase at, with a lot of money needed to secure floor space in the LA Convention Center. It’s going to be a hard sell to get the bigger publishers to return when they now have a precedent of putting out their summer news through their own independent press conferences for a fraction of the cost. It’s hard to see, now that the bond has been severed, why companies like Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft would come back to E3. 

Moreover, with Geoff Keighley’s Summer Games Fest proving a reliable platform for the last few years, companies don’t even have to put on their own show anymore. If it’s big enough, they can toss an announcement over for someone else to handle. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be proven wrong. Perhaps the ESA is willing to eat the cost for a couple of years and incentivize companies to return. It’s possible, but after years lost to Covid, would the ESA even be in a position to lose money for long-term gains like that?

However, it'd be wonderful to see. The new status quo of companies putting out their big summer news in an unorderly fashion is a pain to cover as a journalist, and much less compelling for viewers. It’s hard to sustain that level of excitement over a couple of weeks, rather than days. That aura of ‘Gamer Christmas’ has passed. 

There was a real communal aspect to E3 – of people from all over the gaming world convening in one place once a year, and it was always rejuvenating. I don’t think that’s a good enough reason for companies to want to buy back into the E3 model again though. It feels like it’s going to be mighty hard to get this genie back in the bottle. 

Patrick Dane
Gaming Guides Editor

Patrick Dane is TechRadar Gaming's Guides Editor. With nearly a decade in the games press, he's been a consistent voice in the industry. He's written for a plethora of major publications and travelled the world doing it. He also has a deep passion for games as a service and their potential to tell evolving stories. To wit, he has over 2000 hours in Destiny 2, over 1000 in Overwatch and is now deeply into Valorant.