The past few years have been pretty rough for promoters of large, in-person events. For the gaming industry, it has meant the death of the annual E3 gaming conference in Los Angeles. First it was canceled in 2020 as COVID-19 emerged. Next it was changed to an online-only event in 2021. For 2022, it was also going to be online until the Omicron variant forced the Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) hand, as it was canceled entirely this year. Next year though, E3 is back. It will be both in-person and online, which is sure to please gamers who enjoy the pageantry of the trade show.
News of the show’s return was reported by the washington post, which interviewed the ESA’s head honcho. “We’re excited about coming back in 2023 with both a digital and an in-person event,” ESA president and CEO Stan Pierre-Louis told The Washington Post. “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 — to be able to connect in person and see each other and talk about what makes games great.” When the ESA canceled E3 this year, it declared it was not giving up on the show despite suggestions to the contrary. As it turns out, that wasn’t just PR bluster.
Apparently, rumors of E3 being on life support during the pandemic might have been exaggerated. Pierre-Louis said many of the companies that participated in last year’s online event achieved their highest level of “global reach.” That sounds plausible, just because we’ve all gotten used to streaming everything to our computers instead of doing in-person events. At the same time, all the big companies have also switched to doing online events as well. Even without E3 there are still livestreams like Sony’s State of Play, Nintendo Direct, and all the various Xbox presentations.
Still, Pierre-Louis says there’s room for both in-person and online events going forward. It just boils down to how people like to enjoy these types of events. If you’re not comfortable with massive crowds at this point, you can watch it at home. If you are ready to join the hordes, get your Cosplay on and head to LA.
Although the event has reportedly been approved to begin next year, the ESA hasn’t announced the official date for it. Instead, it’s releasing the results of a study called “Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry.” The study was based on interviews with 4,000 US adults over the age of 18. It showed that over 65 percent of Americans play video games and 89 percent said video games provide stress relief. Pierre-Louis says the survey shows the pandemic has only increased the amount of video games people play. These results just prove that events like E3 are not dying at all, but are more relevant than ever.