Like an Ex Who Dramatically Leaves Just to Dramatically Come Back, E3 Returns in 2023

The event has been MIA since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

For most people who exist outside the industry, it probably feels like E3, the convention that was once the center piece of video game news and announcements, never actually left during the COVID-19 pandemic. As far as most people are concerned, the digital presentations and Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest occupied the same space of providing updates on upcoming games that E3 once did. We may have jokingly called all these showcases “Not E3,” to reference they were all taking place in June when E3 would have typically been held, but to most people who pay attention to video games, not much really changed. But today, the ESA announced it’s partnering with PAX organizer Reedpop to bring E3 back as an in-person, Los Angeles-based event in 2023, alongside a digital showcase for those not present.

After three years of COVID-related cancelations, E3 will be bringing developers, publishers, marketing partners, journalists, and content creators to the Los Angeles Convention Center during the second week of June 2023, though specific dates have yet to be revealed.

“We are thrilled to bring back E3 as an in-person event with ReedPop, a global leader in producing pop culture events,” ESA President and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis said in a statement to Variety. “The past three years have confirmed that E3 convenes our industry like no other event.”

At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any word on whether or not E3 2023 will be a public event, which had been a pillar of the convention in 2017, 2018, and 2019 (though, the public wasn’t affected by the 2019 leak that put content creators and journalists’ private information online). At one time, the E3 name was enough to draw some people in, as fans were willing to pay money to be at the event to play upcoming games, but would often have to wait in long lines to actually get their hands on a controller. Whatever the case is, I’m interested to see what the safety protocols are for an event in 2023, as even a COVID-related death wasn’t enough to get Reedpop to update PAX protocols this year.

All that being said, the big question is if E3 can reestablish itself as the central hub of summer games reveals after being gone for three years. Companies have found holding their own digital showcases to be pretty lucrative, and Summer Game Fest has been giving platforms to those who don’t want to put a show together. Now that the industry has had a taste of a life without being beholden to E3, does it need it anymore?

My gut assumption is “probably not,” but as a person who has attended a few E3s in the past, I also recognize the public-facing side of it is one thing, what the actual in-person event offers all sides of the industry is something that can’t be replicated by a digital showcase. Business deals happen at these trade shows, but they’re also a space where colleagues get to see each other, and sometimes it’s the only time they get to do it all year. But other shows like PAX have been facilitating both the business and social sides of E3 in its absence. So next year will be an interesting year to see if E3 can make up its lost ground.