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E3 isn’t dead just yet as ESA plans physical show for 2023

Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest, as well as other digital gaming showcase livestreams coming this summer, have proven that the gaming industry doesn’t need E3, which was canceled this year for the second time in two years to reduce health risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is telling everyone not to count it out just yet. Gaming’s governing body has announced that E3 will be returning in 2023.

ESA President and CEO Stan Pierre-Louis said in an interview with The Washington Post that E3 2023 will combine both in-person and digital elements. He attributed the success of last year’s virtual E3 to the expanse of its reach to fans and journalists around the world who couldn’t afford to fly to Los Angeles for the convention or couldn’t attend it for other reasons. He added that people still want to connect and network with each other in person.

“We’re excited about coming back in 2023 with both a digital and an in-person event,” Pierre-Louis said. “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.”

Despite E3 2023 being a combination of an in-person event and a virtual one, the convention’s success will depend on whether major game companies will attend it or not for financial reasons. For example, Sony pulled out of E3 in 2019, and has been doing well with its State of Play presentations. Meanwhile, Ubisoft has been hosting Ubisoft Forward for two years and it didn’t return to E3 last yea, Nintendo has been hosting Nintendo Direct streams even before the pandemic forced E3 2020 to get canceled, and Sega has been hosting its Sonic Central streams since last year (even though they’re shorter than streams from other companies).

Even so, Pierre-Louis said that there’s still room for E3 as a traditional in-person event, as well as an avenue for people to participate in it virtually when they can’t physically be there due to circumstances beyond their control. “Combining those two, I think there is a critical element of what we think E3 can provide,” he said.

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