Since 1995, E3 has served as the gaming industry’s largest, most important annual trade show. Taking place every June in the Los Angeles Convention Center, E3 typically draws tens of thousands of attendees. It’s an opportunity for the biggest companies in gaming to announce their new hardware and software and build hype before product launches.
All that changed in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of E3 for the first time since it began. After an all-digital show in 2021 and another cancellation in 2022, E3 is finally set to return in-person and is sure to feature some of the best custom trade show booths of the year. Let’s take a look at all we know about E3 2023 so far.
E3 2023’s Venue and Format
As before, E3 will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown LA. But now, the expo will include a virtual component alongside its in-person component.
- E3’s virtual programming, dubbed Digital Week, will run from June 11-17.
- The in-person E3 experience will be split into industry days and gamer days.
- Industry days will run from June 13-15.
- Gamer days will run from June 15-16.
Throughout its history, E3 was mostly an industry-only event. However, starting in 2017, it opened to the public as well, capitalizing on the massive public interest in the booming games market. Note how this year, there will be one day where both industry members and the public are allowed entry.
Still, industry and gamer events will be separate. Industry activities will take place in the West Hall, which will feature a lounge, bar, and a limited number of rooms to book for meetings and appointments. Gamer events, which are also open to industry members, will take place in South and Kentia Halls, including the main theatre for major announcements and interviews, plus the large exhibitor hall for brand activations. This is where we expect to see the most impressive custom trade show displays.
Though full details on E3 2023’s COVID policy have yet to be announced, the details available suggest that it will be lenient. The official website states that masks are encouraged, but not required.
Which Companies Are Presenting at E3 2023?
This year, E3 is being run by events company ReedPop, which runs many other successful conventions including PAX, Star Wars Celebrations, New York Comic Con, and more. ReedPop’s stated policy is to not announce the exhibitor list until a few weeks out from the show. Details are still being worked out behind the scenes, and will continue to be in flux for the next several months.
However, this policy doesn’t prevent companies from making their own announcements about whether they will or won’t be attending. So far, as of March 2023, we know more about which companies won’t be at E3 than who will.
Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo Bow Out
Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are the giants of gaming since they each manufacture one of the three home gaming consoles on which virtually all new console games are released: Sony’s PS4, Microsoft’s Xbox One, and Nintendo’s Switch. It came as a blow to E3 when all three of these companies announced that they would not attend.
Still, this news didn’t exactly come as a surprise to industry watchers. All three companies had been trending away from E3 even before the pandemic.
Though the media exposure that E3 guarantees is essential for smaller game studios to launch their products, the Big Three are so well-established that they can hype their new hardware and software directly to consumers. As Digital Trends points out, “The top players realized they had the power to message out their biggest announcements whenever they wanted rather than waiting for one week in June.”
Sony has not appeared at E3 since 2018, instead opting to host its own State of Play streams to announce new titles. Microsoft had also been tapering off its presence at E3 pre-Covid. This year, as IGN reports, Xbox’s annual summer showcase will take place in LA overlapping with E3, and perhaps draw some of the same crowd.
Recently, Nintendo joined the chorus and announced that this year’s E3 “didn’t fit into our plans.” Nintendo has been a stalwart E3 attendee, even participating in the digital version in 2021. However, industry watchers speculate that this year, aside from the upcoming The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Nintendo is lacking new product to hype. Like Sony, Nintendo has developed its own method of making game announcements to fans: Nintendo Direct, so its future participation in E3 is in doubt.
Time to Shine for Game Developers and Indie Studios
Nevertheless, predictions of E3’s death or loss of relevance are premature. Even without the presence of the Big Three, E3 will still be an important hub for game developers, established and indie alike. Ubisoft, publisher of the megahit Assassin’s Creed series, has announced that it will be attending, and more announcements from other companies are sure to follow.
Just like any other industry, when there’s a power vacuum, there are always competitors racing each other to fill it. At last year’s Gamescom, Microsoft was the only Big Three company present, but the show floor was still packed with some of the biggest names in gaming, including Sega and THQ. At this year’s E3, expect rising AA developers and publishers to swoop in and use the opportunity to make a name for themselves.
Show Ready Looks Forward to E3’s Cutting-Edge Custom Event Booths
We at Show Ready have been proud to work with our gaming clients, and our work has appeared on the E3 trade show floor several times. We built displays for 2K Games in 2015 and 2016, including a detailed city street to promote the release of Mafia III. We also built a custom scenic environment for Epic Games to promote the popular game Fortnite.
We look forward to attending this year and seeing the latest developments in both gaming and custom showroom environments. We’ll see you there, and until then, happy gaming!