Game over: The end of E3 and the rise of a new digital era

For more than two decades, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, has been a popular event in the gaming industry. It was more than just a convention – it was a celebration of shared culture, a peek into the future of gaming and a meeting point for the industry’s biggest names to showcase their latest innovations. However, the once vibrant and busy E3 has seen a steady decline in both its popularity and relevance in recent years, eventually leading to its official cancellation in December 2023.

E3 was not just another event on the calendar but a phenomenon that cut across the confines of the gaming industry. It was a convention that managed to capture the attention of a diverse audience, from the most consistent gamers to those with merely a passing interest in video games. The convention provided a unique platform for developers and publishers to interact with their audience on a personal level, offering a sneak peek into their upcoming projects. It was a time of excitement and anticipation, as gamers worldwide would wait with bated breath for the latest announcements.

However, the gaming landscape has undeniably evolved, and with it, the need for physical conventions has faded.

“Living in a post-COVID era, it makes sense because everything is too shaky when it comes to physical events,” Haley Kassum, a former Georgia State history graduate student said.  “Think about panels at DragonCon or any other major conventions, most of the time, they’re hybrid with a live stream you can watch from miles away.”

The advent of digital media and the explosion of internet connectivity has revolutionized the way information is disseminated, making it quicker and more accessible than ever before. Major gaming companies have started to recognize and adapt to this shift, opting to host their digital events. This new approach allows them to retain control over their narrative, carefully timing and curating their announcements for maximum impact.

Kassum said, “With most people preferring not to travel due to economy and Post-Covid fatigue, no one wants to go to a sweaty convention just to listen to a game announcement that’s being live-streamed anyway.”

As a direct consequence of these unprecedented conditions, E3, which was a much-anticipated event in the gaming calendar, was canceled in both 2020 and 2021. These cancellations not only represented a significant disappointment for the gaming community, but they also served to put the final nail in the coffin of large-scale physical gaming events, marking the end of an era. The transformation of the gaming industry towards virtual events is now more apparent than ever.

The decline and eventual demise of E3 can be seen as a reflection of the changing times in which we find ourselves living. As we continue to evolve and progress further into a world that is increasingly digital and interconnected, the necessity for physical conventions and in-person gatherings may continue to decline. However, it’s crucial to understand that this shift doesn’t signify a fading away or a decrease in the significance of gaming culture. Quite the opposite is true.

This change has opened a plethora of new opportunities for sharing and celebrating the love for gaming. This shared passion unites millions of people around the world, and these new digital platforms may provide an even more inclusive and accessible way for this community to connect and engage.

Even though E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, may no longer be the grand, towering spectacle that it once was, its spirit and essence continue to live on vividly in the hearts and memories of gamers worldwide. This annual event remains a powerful symbol even today.

E3 stands as a poignant reminder of the shared joy, anticipation and camaraderie that the world of gaming brings to millions. It’s a testament to the lasting impact of this iconic convention that, for many years, served as the epicenter for all things related to gaming.

Though the chapter of the once-popular E3 has closed, Kassum said, “It feels like the end of an era.” E3 remains a cherished piece of gaming history and its legacy continues to influence the gaming scene today.