The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), perhaps the largest annual event in video games, is set to return as an in-person event in June 2023, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced drastic changes to the expo over the past few years, including cancellations in both 2020 & 2022 and an online-only event in 2021. However, according to a new report by IGN, E3’s glorious return to the Los Angeles Convention Center may be without the industry’s three biggest players.

Multiple industry sources indicated to IGN that Nintendo, Sony, and Xbox will not be part of E3 2023 and will not have a presence on the LA Convention Center showfloor. One knowledgeable source cited “ongoing frustrations” with event organizers the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) as one reason for the decision by the so-called “Big 3” to pull out of E3. This source further claimed that the ESA has “incredibly mishandled the E3 brand over the last three years.”

Nintendo, Sony, Xbox, and the ESA did not return IGN’s requests for comment. Events company Reedpop, which is co-organizing E3 2023, provided the following statement to IGN:

“E3 is such a significant event for the game industry and being entrusted with an important cultural touchstone is not a responsibility ReedPop takes lightly. Since ReedPop took on the contract to run E3 six months ago, we’ve worked diligently with ESA members based on their feedback to create a new type of E3 that supports their goals and needs.

This process has taken time due to the tremendous amount of stakeholders offering input, though we appreciate that we could have been more transparent to questions for which we were still finalizing the answers. We continue to work tirelessly to create a show that brings together the global gaming industry. We believe we’ve created a new format for the event that serves the needs of both the industry and its fans, and are committed to building and growing it in the coming years.

As we spent much of 2022 refining how E3 2023 would take shape, reflecting on the feedback we solicited, we did not send a single contract to an exhibitor until the start of this month. We have received a tremendous amount of interest and verbal commitments from many of the biggest companies in the industry, and when we are ready to announce the exhibitors we are confident it will be a lineup that will make the trip to Los Angeles well worth it for the industry and consumers alike.”

The ESA has since released the following statement:

“As you have likely seen, IGN published an article last night about E3. While we are not able to comment on the specific claims in the article, we wanted to share our commitment to moving forward with E3.

E3 has a rich history within our industry, and we are always heartened to feel the passion for the show and hear what it means to different people. Reviving a tradeshow after a three-year hiatus and a global pandemic was always going to have its challenges, which is why we conducted an extensive search (in consultation with the ESA member companies) to identify the best partner to produce E3. In selecting ReedPOP as our partner, we have been able to tap into their rich history of hosting popular industry events, like PAX, and broader consumer shows, like Comic Con.

They have made strong progress in reshaping the event and have received tremendous support from industry companies of all sizes who are not only thinking about E3 2023, but how E3 fits into marketing plans for 2024 and beyond.

It’s important to note that even as the show evolves and adapts, it will not impact the core of ESA’s work for its member companies. Our priority remains advocating for your policy interests on the state and federal level.

We will share news and developments regarding E3 as they are available. If you have questions in the meantime, feel free to reach out to me. Thank you for your ongoing support.”

Despite in 2013 pivoting away from traditional E3 press conferences in favor of their own Nintendo Direct online presentations during E3 week, Nintendo has maintained a large presence on the E3 showfloor. Nintendo’s booth has consistently been one of the largest and most elaborate in the convention center’s West Hall, with prominent Switch releases like Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, and Luigi’s Mansion 3 all receiving huge, immersive experiences within the booth in recent years. Nintendo pulling out of E3 completely will certainly leave a massive hole on the E3 showfloor and will eliminate a vital opportunity for press outlets and fans to get up close and personal with new games.

It is unclear if Nintendo, despite not participating in E3, still plans to host a Nintendo Direct in June to correspond with E3.

Sony, on the other hand, has not taken part in E3 since 2018. The company first skipped E3 in 2019 and has since hosted regular PlayStation State of Play online presentations in order to highlight upcoming titles instead. Sony will likely continue this tradition by hosting one or more State of Play presentations this summer.

Xbox meanwhile has already announced a standalone Summer Showcase, independent from but adjacent to E3, in Los Angeles this summer. IGN nevertheless reports that Xbox will not have a booth on the E3 showfloor. Xbox has not had a presence on the E3 showfloor since 2017, having hosted a separate demo space within the Microsoft Theater in Downtown Los Angeles in recent years instead.

After being forced to cancel all in-person E3 events since the start of the pandemic, the ESA partnered with events company Reedpop — organizers of PAX, New York Comic Con, and Star Wars Celebration — to bring E3 back to the LA Convention Center in 2023. Reedpop, however, has reportedly been criticized for their handling of the event so far, with one source claiming that there is “a lot of missing information.”

This source continued by telling IGN, “It seemed like they’d be the perfect shepherds for something like E3. So who knows where the issue is: Is it an ESA issue? Is it a ReedPop issue?… But there seems to be a lot of genuine interest from game publishers in the concept of E3, but it’s really frustrating that we don’t have good solutions.”

E3 2023 is still scheduled to take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 13th to June 16th. The 13th and 14th will be open to industry insiders and media only, while the 15th and 16th will be open to the public.

As disappointing as this news is, I can’t say I’m shocked after seeing multiple large publishers, including Sony and Xbox, slowly distance themselves from the E3 showfloor. The absence of Nintendo, which long seemed a stalwart supporter of E3, is definitely the biggest surprise of IGN’s report.

It’s unclear how the absence of the Big 3 will affect E3 2023 and future E3 events. We’ll keep you posted as more information comes to light.

What do you make of this bombshell news? Are you disappointed? Do you think Nintendo will still host a Direct in June? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: IGN

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited to include the ESA’s official statement.

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