E3's Legacy Lives On: A New Era of Gaming Showcases Emerges

When E3 collapsed, the void seemed like it would be impossible to fill. But it has: the Spirit of E3 is very much alive. How has the industry adapted? What form did E3 2021 take, and what lessons can we draw from it? Here I aim to present a few recent examples of how gaming expanded itself during the time of E3’s seeming demise, focusing on Microsoft’s Xbox showcase that proved that the spirit of E3 lives on.

E3: The Gaming Industry's Cornerstone Event

When they woke up on the morning that E3 was officially and permanently dead, at the beginning of 2023, video game industry veterans didn’t yawn. They banged their heads on their desks. E3 was console capitalism’s Rite of Spring, the focal point and the pinnacle of the videogame industry’s annual calendar. In the week of E3, a handful of multibillion-dollar corporations spent billions of dollars reversing decades of research and development in order to release the most exciting new videogames and videogame technology. When you cancel E3, what exactly are you cancelling?

The Rise of New Platforms: Beyond E3

Given the lack of E3, new traditions and channels were born, including Xbox’s showcase, an absolute whirling dervish of game reveals and trailers that felt to many in attendance (myself included) like an E3-sized showcase. Absence did make the heart grow fonder, and it seemed that while the gaming industry might not miss E3 entirely, it was then and there clear that the games industry’s ability to awe and innovate was alive and well.

A New Dawn for Gaming Showcases

As Xbox’s recent showcase proved, by merging the pomp of big game reveals with the accessibility of digital formats, the industry has found a way to enhance the best bits of E3 without the risk and without the cull. That’s not an end of an era. It’s a kind of rebirth.

The Transition to a New Format

The move away from E3 hasn’t been smooth by any means, and the first ‘E3 in June’ experiments were a mixed bag. But the latest Xbox Games Showcase is a demonstration that the industry is learning to master this new format. With the best of E3 extravaganzas and digital accessibility, the new E3 might not look like the old one, but perhaps it should.

The Significance of Showcases in the Current Climate

Xbox’s showcase comes at a time when the entire video game industry is grappling with globe-shattering problems, such as the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all areas of society. It’s hard to find excitement in a screen full of men throwing tiny virtual spheres at each other. There seems to be no place for what seems like a trivial indulgence in a world where it often feels like anything but. This year’s event required watching thousands of tiny people running around attempting to shoot each other to feel a renewed sense of optimism about the future of games and those of us who play them.

E3: An Indelible Mark on Gaming

E3 might be a thing of the past, but its ghost lives on in every contemporary game showcase, from the way games are introduced to the fever pitch of energy in the halls as fans wait for the next announcement.

Looking to the Future

The spectre of E3 still haunts the industry, for better or for worse. Every new iteration of a gaming showcase adopting new elements of the E3 showfloor format, or E3’s emphasis on talking up the future rebranded as seeing into the industry’s upcoming year, remixes and repurposes E3’s essence for another game, another time. E3 isn’t forgotten.

About E3

E3 – the Electronic Entertainment Expo – was the video-game industry’s biggest event. Developers, media and enthusiasts from every corner of the globe descended upon LA each June for the world’s largest celebration of games. With E3 on hiatus, the events that gave the showcase its carnival aspect might be over, but the exhibition that served as its launch pad continues to shape the form, feel and energy of the industry’s gaming extravaganzas well into the digital age of game events, and a whole new era of gaming enthusiasm.

Jun 14, 2024
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