In another difficult turn of events for the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), celebrated publishers Devolver Digital and Sega, as well as Chinese entertainment juggernaut Tencent, have pulled out of the upcoming 2023 show.
Sega, publisher of Sonic Frontiers and the Yakuza games, confirmed to IGN (opens in new tab) today that: “After careful consideration, we have decided not to participate in E3 2023 as an exhibitor. We look forward to sharing more information on announced and unannounced projects in the future.” IGN also reported that Tencent confirmed “through a spokesperson” that Level Infinite, one of its subsidiaries, would not be in attendance, either.
Devolver Digital, the publisher behind indie hits like Cult of the Lamb, Weird West and Inscryption, have traditionally contributed to E3 in its own strange way, by setting up its own exhibition in a parking lot opposite the main hall. However, the publisher announced in a tweet (opens in new tab) earlier today that it would not be attending the Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) flagship event, stating: “No Devolver E3 Parking Lot this year but we will have a fresh, new Devolver Direct presentation during @SummerGameFest. Should be gooooooood.”
The losses of Sega, Devolver Digital and Level Infinite are the latest in a long line of disappointments for the ESA. Just yesterday, Ubisoft canceled its own E3 appearance, saying that it would like to go “in a different direction”, hosting its own Ubisoft Forward Live event on June 12 in Los Angeles (via Kotaku (opens in new tab)).
E3 2023 is also set to be the first E3 where Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony will skip the event as well, happy instead to promote their consoles and games through other channels.
An empty stage
All of these cancellations have put E3 in a precarious position, with many news outlets already speculating that the event could be canceled (opens in new tab) (via GamesRadar). Though neither the ESA nor ReedPop, the show’s producers, have made a statement addressing the speculation, it’s clear that the halcyon days of E3 are very much in the past.
I fondly recall the days where me and my nerdy friends would gather around the warm glow of a computer monitor to watch the E3 announcements. However, it’s clear that the expo no longer fulfills that role within the gaming industry.
That being said, E3 has often done a great job at providing a heady cocktail of hype, spectacle and community, all of which make for a healthier gaming world. Though these cancellations are, undoubtedly, a blow to the ESA as well as ReedPop, there is an opportunity, here, for E3 to pivot towards something more open and community based.
While an abundance of presentations and exhibitions have undoubtedly lent E3 a luster over the years, it is entirely possible for the organizers to transform the event into a more community-driven gathering, with an emphasis on the players and fans, rather than the exhibitions themselves.
Though such a move would require the ESA to confront some ugly truths about the state of E3 2023, the ESA could pivot the expo in an entirely new direction. Despite the setbacks, E3 still has a widely-known platform boasting significant brand recognition. There is potential for a silver lining here, but only if the ESA are willing to seize it.
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