E3 2023 reveals its physical location, timetable, and new fan-friendly twist
reading between the lines on what will happen after COVID E3.
The yearly gaming convention formerly known as E3 is finally getting closer to being revived as a live event. The big news this week signals a significant change in how the decades-old event will function: a separation between audience kinds. However, details about the upcoming edition of E3 are still limited.
E3 2023 has set its venue and dates, according to the expo’s new showrunners at ReedPOP, the company in charge of regional gaming and comic conventions like PAX, EGX, and Star Wars Celebration. Fans of E3 should recognise both as taking place during the same week in mid-June (particularly, June 13–16) in the Los Angeles Convention Center.
E3 will now more closely resemble international gaming industry expos like Gamescom and Tokyo Games Show. The first two days of the convention, dubbed “E3 Business Days,” are reserved only for “registered industry people,” which according to ReedPOP includes publishers, distributors, licensors, and the press. The third day of E3 2023 will be a dual industry/public day, and the fourth day will be reserved solely for public ticket sales. The event will present a theatre full of “deep-dive looks at highly anticipated titles” over the course of these two “E3 Gamer Days” days.
Maybe typical showgoers will find this one entertaining.
Our years of E3 coverage lead us to believe that this organisational setup will be beneficial to all attendees. Prior to COVID, E3 mostly served as a conduit between game publishers and developers and the logistics side of the industry: your Targets, Amazons, and Best Buys, along with global distribution partners, digital services, and other businesses that somehow get video games into gamers’ hands. Priority was given to those individuals at previous E3s rather than to journalists or even average customer attendees.
However, the ESA’s E3 was successful in selling tickets to a fan base that had become accustomed to enjoyable gaming conventions. Usually, that wasn’t the case because of the excruciating waits in line for the few available gameplay kiosks—all the while, business people waltzed past velvet ropes to skip those lines. By dividing those audiences, more room should be made available for gamers to try out demonstrations of eagerly awaited games. Instead of making fans wait in E3 queues to view behind-closed-door footage, ReedPOP’s revelation regarding a theatre segment hints that it aims to expedite public access to “exclusive” game presentations during the conference.
We still have concerns about how the show will run as of publication. Will the exhibition floor change as E3 Business Days give way to E3 Gamer Days to reflect the attendance divide between industry professionals and general consumers? In other words, would the third and fourth days of the event feature additional open gameplay kiosks for upcoming games? In addition, third-party merch booths are a prominent feature of ReedPOP’s other expos (i.e., clothing, “mystery boxes,” and retro game resellers). Despite the fact that those booths might seem to misunderstand the idea of E3’s industry-exclusive days, will the ReedPOP status quo carry over into their version of E3? (Representatives at ReedPOP did not immediately respond to inquiries from Ars Technica on these topics.)
But who will be present at E3 in 2023?
Even before COVID forced the show’s physical incarnation to end, big publishers started skipping E3 in order to emphasise their own physical and digital events. Ultimately, E3 is defined by the video game creators and publishers who present there. We’re left interpreting industry-event tea leaves at this point as participating publishers haven’t provided official confirmation.
The Xbox system family made a tangible comeback at Gamescom this summer, but Microsoft, the company that manages that console family, chose not to attend ReedPOP’s PAX West 2022, which was held just a few miles from Microsoft’s headquarters in the Seattle area. To its credit, Nintendo had official presences at both recent expos. Since it withdrew from E3 2019, Sony has been the exhibitor-averse corporation, with its PlayStation division content to rotate between YouTube presentations and restricted hands-on events for the press.
Regarding ReedPOP’s relationships with potential participating game developers, the most recent PAX West was instructive. Aside from Nintendo, the September event’s show floor featured a haphazard assortment of well-known game publishers, including Bandai Namco, Devolver, and various Embracer-owned subsidiaries. The inclusion of Xbox, Sega, and Ubisoft at its events gave Gamescom 2022, which is unrelated to ReedPOP, a slight advantage.
Geoff Keighley, who organised the Game Awards and Summer Game Fest and was involved in several of this year’s Gamescom events, is also moving through with a physical Summer Game Fest in 2023. In June 2023, Keighley, a longstanding behind-the-scenes event organiser of E3-related events, would use his connections with major game publishers to fill out his own show floor, depriving the new E3 of material. Even though the dates, location, and participating game developers for SGF 2023 are still unclear as of this writing, we already expect a competition for fans’ online and offline game-preview bandwidth in June 2023.