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In brief: With so many companies pulling out of E3, it's starting to feel like the pandemic all over again. And, just like those dark days, it's beginning to look like the event will be canceled. Covid-19 isn't to blame this time; it's just a lack of interest in taking part in an event that few publishers view as important anymore.
Update: Shortly after this report went live, IGN was informing that E3 2023 has been cancelled.
After Nintendo, Xbox, Sony, and Ubisoft all confirmed they wouldn't be attending this year's E3, IGN reports that Sega and Tencent are also skipping the event. "After careful consideration, we have decided not to participate in E3 2023 as an exhibitor. We look forward to sharing more information on announced and unannounced projects in the future," said Sega. Tencent also confirmed that subsidiary Level Infinite would not be at E3, either.
With so many big names set to be absent this year, numerous individuals in publishing and PR are concerned that E3 2023 could be canceled. Many said they hadn't heard of anyone else who was planning to attend for sure, and sources say a lack of communication from both the ESA and organizer ReedPop only compounded the uncertainty about what to expect from the event.
Even before Ubisoft said it was skipping E3 to hold its own Ubisoft Forward Live event on June 12, a source told IGN that "there's no possible way this show can happen."
E3 2023: https://t.co/VYzoGTbuZA pic.twitter.com/caqP4iyCeE— Ultima | #Ð²ÊÂÐ¼ (@UltimaShadowX) March 28, 2023
Another publisher who won't be visible during the event is Devolver Digital. Although it has never officially attended E3, the company sets up its own show in a parking lot opposite the main hall. These surreal and hilarious events are often a highlight of the E3 schedule, but DD has confirmed it won't be hosting any of these satellite shows this year.
There was a time when E3 was the most important date on the gaming calendar, but it had started to lose its appeal even before Covid hit. It's possible that more companies will pull out before proceedings start on June 11, which could see the first in-person show for three years canceled before its return - reports claim several publishers have already decided not to attend but have yet to make official announcements. Should the worst happen, there's a strong possibility E3 would disappear permanently - at least in its current format.