E3 2023 canceled, ESA confirms, as publishers pull out

E3 2023 has been canceled, organizers at the Entertainment Software Association announced Thursday, following the reported withdrawal of major publishers like Ubisoft, Sega, and Tencent. Those companies joined console manufacturers Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony who had previously confirmed they wouldn’t take part in this year’s E3, an event that promised to return the spectacled gaming industry show to Los Angeles for the first time in four years.

“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,” said Kyle Marsden-Kish, global VP of gaming at ReedPop, in a news release. “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.”

ReedPop and the ESA said they will “continue to work together on future E3 events.”

IGN reported Tuesday that a handful of major publishers had backed out of the event, with others casting doubt on their participation in the show. On Thursday, IGN reported that E3 organizers reportedly told members that E3 2023 “simply did not garner the sustained interest necessary to execute it in a way that would showcase the size, strength, and impact of our industry.”

This year’s E3 was announced as a return to the L.A. Convention Center for the show’s first in-person event since 2019. The ESA had enlisted ReedPop, the company that produces PAX, Star Wars Celebration, and other fan-focused events, to run E3 2023. The plan was to combine a gathering of publishers, developers, media, and buyers with “in-person consumer components” and digital showcases. When it was announced in July 2022, ReedPop promised that “E3 2023 will be recognizably epic — a return to form that honors what’s always worked — while reshaping what didn’t.”

A competing event, the Geoff Keighley-produced Summer Game Fest, will serve as an alternative for game publishers and developers to showcase their wares in June. Microsoft and Ubisoft will have digital events of their own that month, aligned with the dates for Summer Game Fest (which runs June 8-10) and the now-canceled E3 (which was scheduled to run June 11-16).

The cancellation of E3 2023 — the third scrapped version of the event in recent years — is another distressing indicator of the health of the expo, and the industry’s valuation of it. After E3 2019, the most recent in-person version of the event, E3 2020 was canceled in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Game publishers held their own digital showcases instead that summer, over the course of a few months. In 2021, E3 was held as an all-digital event. The ESA attempted both an in-person and digital version of E3 2022, but both incarnations were canceled.

Update: This story has been updated with comment from the ESA and ReedPop.

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