But is E3 even needed anymore?
Unsurprisingly, E3 will once again not happen as an in-person event this year, what with the whole global pandemic and all. The Entertainment Software Association, who organise E3, had hoped that the main event on the video games industry's marketing calendar would return properly this year, after skipping 2019 and going online in 2020, but nope. While they haven't yet confirmed whether or not they'll arrange an online E3 in its stead, they seem to be considering it. But even if not, the industry will doubltess manage to host its own advert-o-ramas without the E3 banner.
"Due to the ongoing health risks surrounding Covid-19 and its potential impact on the safety of exhibitors and attendees, E3 will not be held in person in 2022," the ESA said in a statement yesterday. "We remain incredibly excited about the future of E3 and look forward to announcing more details soon."
When the ESA announced that E3 2021 would be online-only, they offered the hopeful note that they "[looked] forward to coming back together to celebrate E3 2022 in person." Bless their optimistic hearts.
As for whether they will arrange an online-only event (like in 2021) or outright skip it (like in 2020), it's unclear. The ESA told GamesBeat that they are "excited about the possibilities of an online event." You can read that as noncommittal. But it doesn't really matter. As the past two years have demonstrated, marketers can get by without the ESA or their E3 name.
When the ESA outright cancelled E3 2020, the industry still wanted that summer hype. Many publishers had already started to move their own announce-o-ramas outside the E3 banner, simply choosing to run them alongside it or scattering smaller digital events across the year, so they were prepared to continue anyway. Many other online events sprung up to fill in the gaps, variously organised by developers, publishers, and the media. When the ESA returned with an online E3 in 2021, it wasn't really needed—people were already getting by alright without it.
Following the news, advertising maven Geoff Keighley casually dropped a reminder that his own virtual blast-o-rama, the Summer Game Fest, will return this year.
I did miss E3. As much as I've heaped scorn on the hollow hype, it was at least contained. E3 and its neighbouring events would run for a week or so, a big loud colourful blast that could be fun, then end. NotE3 felt endless. The various events spanned months, yet often showed the same games, the same trailers. Individual events were often unfocused too. The whole thing could've been condensed into something half the size across, say, a week or so. NotE3 had more time and space for underserved genres and indies, mind, which was welcome.
As someone whose job required them to watch all of NotE3, I found it exhausting. But that's a rare position, and the events aren't really intended for my purposes, so what does my opinion matter? Reader dear, tell me, what do you make of E3 and NotE3?