E3, or not E3, that is the question

E3 2022 is no more. Following a largely disappointing digital-only event in 2021, show runners the ESA have confirmed that there will be no E3 at all this year. Once the year’s biggest gaming event, its impact has diminished greatly over recent times. Publishers have been steadily distancing themselves from the event by hosting their own shows (albeit, often right across the road during the very same week), and digital events were becoming increasingly popular even before the pandemic began.

Of course, E3 itself can’t really be blamed for a lack of content if publishers don’t bring exciting games to show off there, but the last few years have been disappointingly thin on big reveals. Sony’s E3 Conference of Dreams™ in 2015 in which The Last Guardian, Shenmue III, and the Final Fantasy VII Remake were all shown off within 90 minutes seems like a long, long time ago now. I woke up at 2am to watch it, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

Maybe I’m not as cynical as I thought I was, but I’m really going to miss it. Corporate pomp and self-congratulating aside, I’ve always loved how E3 brought gaming so vividly into the spotlight; a full week of announcements, reveals, gameplay demos and interviews across all platforms, genres and disciplines. Gaming websites and mainstream ones alike would burst into life with reports, previews and trailers for games we had no idea even existed just days before, and then a couple of weeks later magazines would arrive filled with their own E3 write-ups to devour.

Of course, within hours of E3 2022’s grave being laid, Geoff Keighley came along to dance on it, announcing that he is “Excited to share that the Summer Game Fest will return this June… with announcements, news and first looks.” Summer Game Fest (alongside Keighley’s The Game Awards) is getting bigger every year, and has attracted a number of big game reveals itself. But it doesn’t capture the feel of E3 at its best, and the knowledge that for one week only in a Los Angeles convention centre, the entire video game industry came together to celebrate the medium we all love so much.

Since I was a child I’ve always held onto the hope that one day I’d be able to go to E3, and perhaps now I’ll never get the chance. I really hope that something comes along that can recreate the thrill of it in its heyday, but despite the ESA itself promising E3 will return in 2023 with a reinvigorated showcase, I doubt it.

At least I’ll always have that memory of sitting in the dark at 2:00 in the morning back in 2015, eyes and mouth wide open as Sony confirmed the existence of three mythical games we all thought would never, ever see the light of day. For that memory and many others, I’ll always be a fan of E3.

This article is an extract from The Week in Games newsletter.

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