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E3 is officially canceled, so what’s next?

After weeks of speculation, 2023’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has officially been canceled by organizers. E3 had been expected to commence on June 13, with a return to an in-person event for the first time since 2020.

Once considered a landmark on the gaming industry’s yearly calendar, E3 had struggled to regain its footing following a string of Covid-related disruptions. First canceling due to the pandemic in 2020, E3 returned as a virtual event in 2021, before being forced to cancel again the following year.

The news of the event’s cancelation for 2023 comes as little surprise following a spate of big-name withdrawals from the event, with the likes of Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and Sega having all announced that they would no longer take part. In almost all cases, little reason was given as to why each company had withdrawn, with only vague promises of future updates through alternative channels.

Gamers will still have plenty to look forward to in June even despite E3’s absence, with a number of showcase events scheduled to go ahead in its stead. 

The first of these, Summer Game Fest 2023, is set to kick off on June 8. As the brainchild of game journalist Geoff Keighley, Summer Game Fest initially began as a response to 2020’s cancelations of both the E3 and Gamescom events. Running virtually over four months from May to August in its debut year, announcements including the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 remaster and highly anticipated Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time were among those to emerge.

Three years on, Summer Game Fest is scheduled to return as a single-day event, held both virtually and in-person for select industry professionals. Previous years have seen names such as Capcom, Devolver Digital, Epic Games, Nintendo, Xbox and Sony all take part, with organizers already suggesting this year’s event will be its biggest yet.

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An Xbox Games Showcase from Microsoft is slated to follow on June 11, with expectations it will include our best look yet at the upcoming Starfield from acclaimed developers Bethesda. A day later, on June 12, publisher Ubisoft is scheduled to kick off its Ubisoft Forward Live showcase. While there have been no indications yet as to what we can expect from the event, likely candidates include the latest entry into the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, and frequently delayed Pirate-sim Skull & Bones.

What next for E3?

With a third cancelation in four years, it’s highly unlikely that we will ever see E3 return to its former glory – or at all. This is especially true as publishers and developers continue to look for ways to cut costs, with virtual showcases a more cost-effective alternative to preparing for in-person ticketed events. 

Nintendo has Nintendo Direct, PlayStation has State of Play and Xbox has its own games showcase, while big publishers such as Ubisoft and Devolver Digital also hold virtual events to showcase upcoming releases.

Other in-person events such as the Tokyo Games Show and Gamescom remain on the industry calendar too, while major comic conventions including San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) and New York Comic Con (NYCC) will also typically attract appearances from developers and publishers. 

All of this leaves little reason to demand E3’s return in years to come, making it likely we’ve seen the last of what was once the biggest event on the gaming industry calendar. For those like myself who considered attending E3 at least once in their lives a bucket list item, the event’s probable demise is disappointing.

But as long as the calendar stays full with plenty to look forward to, the reality is that gamers won’t have many reasons to worry at all about E3’s absence.

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