What happened to E3?


In recent years, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has become one of the most highly anticipated events in the gaming industry. It's where major game makers, developers, and publishers all come together to show off their upcoming projects, make big announcements, and answer questions about the future of gaming.

But this year something strange happened-- E3 was canceled! This is the first time something like this has ever happened in its 24-year history. So what exactly happened to E3?

In this article, I'll be taking a look at why E3 was canceled and what this means for gamers and the gaming industry as a whole. We'll also take a look at some of the other events that have popped up in its place and what they might mean for future gaming events.

The Rise and Fall of E3 as the Premier Gaming Event

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (also known as E3) is the world's premier gaming event — or at least, it used to be. For years, this annual event was the place to see the latest games and tech, observe industry trends, and make connections with other gamers.

At its peak in the early 2000s, E3 attracted more than 70,000 people and around 600 exhibitors each year — a sign of how far gaming had come since its inception. Many of the biggest names in gaming would have booths or presentations at E3: Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo — even smaller developers could get their chance to shine.

But things changed in recent years. In 2019, E3 shifted from a sprawling consumer-focused event to a more closed-door affair with fewer opportunities for consumers. Because of this, attendance dropped significantly and many companies no longer saw the need to have a booth or presentation at the event. This has led some to question whether E3 will remain relevant in an increasingly digital world.

E3 Then and Now: How It Has Changed Over the Years

You may be wondering, what happened to E3? Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has been around since 1995 and has evolved quite a lot since then. The first E3 conference was held in Los Angeles and featured over 45 exhibitors. The show was a success and grew to become one of the most popular gaming events in the world.

As the gaming industry grew, so did E3. In 2005, the show moved to Santa Monica where more than 200 exhibitors showcased their products. Then, in 2006, Microsoft announced at E3 that they were launching the Xbox 360. This event marked a major milestone for E3 as it was the first time a major console manufacturer had made such an announcement at the show.

Since then, E3 has seen some changes. In 2017, it moved back to Los Angeles and adopted a more open format where anyone could attend. Also that year, gaming industry giants like Sony and Nintendo chose not to attend the show, signaling a shift away from traditional shows like E3.

Clearly, E3 has changed quite a bit over the years but its significance remains—it is still one of the biggest events in gaming each year where announcements are made and new titles are revealed!

Why Major Publishers Left E3

You may be wondering why some of the major publishers left E3. After all, it was once the biggest event in video gaming. Among the reasons, two of the most prominent ones are cost and competition.


The cost of having a booth at E3 is exorbitant. It's estimated that a single exhibitor spends anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million for a booth at E3. For an upcoming company or even an established one, that could be too much to take on. With digital events taking place more frequently in the last few years, companies can put their resources into those more cost-effective alternatives rather than pay for a booth at E3.


Competition also played a role in major publishers leaving E3. With so many game companies exhibiting at once, it was difficult to stand out from the competition with your own marketing messages and products -- especially now that there are so many different platforms gaming can take place on (i.e., PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch). That's why some publishers have chosen to host their own digital events instead because they can get valuable one-on-one consumer time without having to compete with other companies for attention at a massive event like E3.

The Impact of Losing Major Exhibitors on E3

As if the pandemic wasn't enough, E3's battle with staying afloat was only further hindered when major exhibitors—including Electronic Arts, Warner Bros. Games and Activision Blizzard—pulled out of attending last year's show. All three companies instead chose to direct their resources to creating content for direct-to-consumer events, leaving huge losses in the amount of enthusiasm for the show in 2020.

It's unsurprising why they made that decision—organizing an event of E3's size requires millions of dollars and tens of thousands of man hours. Companies are understandably hesitant to spend so much, yet have less control in how their content will be received due to the unpredictability of larger events when attended virtually.

It's unclear what a return to in-person format means for major exhibitors, but the value that typically comes from attending is clear: gaining feedback on newly announced products and services; strengthening relationships with media; and (most importantly) having a space to showcase new products and services directly for fans and customers. Without these elements, E3 loses much of its value as an event for both big companies and gamers alike.

The Future of E3: Can It Regain Its Former Glory?

You may be wondering what the future holds for E3. Can it regain its former glory? According to experts, it's possible, but will require some dedication and innovation from the organizers.

The key will be to make sure that E3 appeals to both industry gamers and fans alike. Here are some ideas:

  • Create a clear distinction between industry professionals and regular attendees. This could make the experience more enjoyable for both groups and ensure everyone is getting value from attending.
  • Open up the show floor even further to emphasize new product announcements, demos, and hands-on time with upcoming games
  • Improve communication between developers and fans, allowing gamers to have a direct voice in what they would like to see from game developers
  • Introduce more live events such as tournaments and concerts
  • Focus on providing meaningful experiences for all attendees by creating engaging activities, demos, interactive exhibits & panels.
Only time will tell if these changes will be implemented in the future of E3 -- but if done correctly this could help bring back the excitement that so many experienced when the event first began.

Alternatives to E3: Gamescom, PAX, the Game Awards

There are plenty of alternatives to E3, like Gamescom, PAX, and the Game Awards. Let's take a look at the main ones.


Gamescom is Europe's largest conference for computer and video games. Originally started in 2009, it provides an opportunity for developers to showcase new products to publishers, distributors, and media partners — making it a great place to get international exposure. It also offers plenty of gaming tournaments, special events for fans and press conferences from major publishers.


This is the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) — another great event for gamers and developers alike. It started in 2004 in Seattle as a way to bring together developers and fans from all over the world. PAX gives developers the chance to show off their games through playable demos on the showroom floor. It also hosts panels by industry professionals, gaming tournaments and plays host to some of the most popular releases each year.

The Game Awards

The Game Awards are annual awards that recognize outstanding artistic achievements across multiple platforms in the video game industry. Started in 2014 by Geoff Keighly, they offer a platform for video game companies to showcase their latest releases along with hosting special events leading up to the award ceremony itself. The ceremony has become increasingly popular over recent years with big name celebrities like Snoop Dogg attending in 2018!


It's clear that E3 has gone through a major transformation in recent years. From a bustling expo full of big reveals and enormous booths to an online event full of streaming media and virtual presentations, the Electronic Entertainment Expo has had to change and adapt in response to the changing times.

While the shift has been difficult for some, E3's changes have opened up opportunities for more people to attend and take part in the festivities, and have allowed for new ways of experiencing the expo. There are sure to be developments in the future, and E3 will undoubtedly continue to evolve as the gaming industry does. Regardless of what format it takes, the Electronic Entertainment Expo will remain an event for gamers worldwide to look forward to.



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