E3 returns in June, and for the first time since 2019, it’ll return to the Los Angeles Convention Center. The gaming industry’s biggest convention was cancelled in 2020 and 2022 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with a scaled back online version hosted in 2021. Much has changed during those three years however, and now Ubisoft has joined Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo in confirming it’ll be a no show.
A spokesperson for Ubisoft confirmed as much to VGC. “E3 has fostered unforgettable moments across the industry throughout the years,” the statement read. “While we initially intended to have an official E3 presence, we’ve made the subsequent decision to move in a different direction, and will be holding a Ubisoft Forward Live event on 12th June in Los Angeles. We look forward to sharing more details with our players very soon.”
Perhaps unsurprising, if it weren’t for the fact that Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said last month on a conference call that the publisher would appear. Perhaps Guillemot meant that in the Electronic Arts sense: in 2019, EA hosted its EA Play showcase in the days leading up to E3 2019, though it wasn’t part of the convention itself.
It’s not great news for E3. Five years ago it remained the biggest event on the industry calendar. The exit of major console platform holders is huge, but if it continues to lose major third-party publishers like Ubisoft, then it doesn’t bode well for its relevance. During an age when most major publishers and platform holders host their own livestreams, and when the Summer Game Fest is pulling all the big reveals, a three-day physical event feels out of step.
Still, it’ll be interesting to see how E3 2023 plays out. It’ll be split between “business days” and “public days”, so it could prove worthwhile for studios that aren’t Ubi, EA or Sony to attend. It takes place on June 13-16.
Some would argue the absence of E3 for the last three years hasn’t made a huge difference, but Rich Stanton ain’t one of ’em. “We’re worse off without E3, and the industry will seem like a more exciting place if it can somehow pull off its promised 2023 comeback,” he wrote last year.