E3 is really, truly coming back in 2023, says ESA

It's scheduled to take place as a hybrid in-person and virtual event.

FREDERIC J. BROWN via Getty Images

Although there are some major gaming showcases taking place this week, there are a few big names missing. One of those is E3, which was for a long time the most important gaming trade show on the calendar. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and some other factors, E3 has had a rocky few years and it isn't going ahead in 2022. However, the group behind the expo, the Entertainment Software Association, plans to bring E3 back in 2023 with both in-person and digital components.

“As much as we love these digital events, and as much as they reach people and we want that global reach, we also know that there’s a really strong desire for people to convene — to be able to connect in person and see each other and talk about what makes games great," Stan Pierre-Louis, CEO and president of the ESA, told The Washington Post.

The ESA has not announced the dates for next year's planned show. However, the event usually takes place in early June. The 2020 edition was scheduled for just a few months after the onset of the pandemic but it and this year's show were canceled. (E3 did convene in 2021, albeit as an online-only event.)

Even before all of that, there were signs that E3 might be on the outs. For instance, Sony decided not to take part in the 2019 edition. The company instead adopted the Nintendo approach of holding digital showcases under its State of Play banner. Other publishers have shied away from E3 as well. That gives them the chance to take up a bigger share of the gaming news cycle whenever they host their own events.

Microsoft, on the other hand, seems to still be on board the E3 hype train. It was part of last year's virtual E3 and is hosting a showcase around the time this year's edition would have taken place.

Other issues have impacted E3 over the last few years. In 2019, personal details for thousands of journalists, analysts and content creators were leaked in a data breach. A media portal used for last year's all-digital affair reportedly made some folks' personal details visible to anyone who registered.

There's perhaps still a place for E3 though, if it can bring together enough of the gaming industry in 2023. It still has value as a destination for studios, publishers, press and fans to get together, show off or play brand new games and take part in conferences. For indie developers, trade shows are a great opportunity for them to secure publishing deals that can perhaps turn their promising game into a success on the level of Stardew Valley or Undertale.