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Remembering the most chaotic trade show, E3

Pour one out for E3; it’s finally deader than the dodo.

Image: KnowTechie

E3 and KnowTechie have a storied history. As the dude who has been to four trade shows over the last decade for the site, I’m sad to let you all know that as of December 12th, 2023, the Electronic Entertainment Expo is dead as a doorknob.

I can’t say I didn’t call it, but at the same time, it still stings to know we are losing the show for future generations.

E3 had a history of studios backing out

E3 was off to a rocky start when they held their first trade show back in 1995. They became the go-to trade fair for the latest gaming news, games, and projects.

E3, for the longest time, was an industry-only show, meaning if you weren’t a writer, reporter, investor, or anything industry-aligned, there was no way you were getting on that tradeshow floor.

Playstation at e3
Image: Push Square

My first E3 was after the show returned to the LA Convention Center in California. It was a wild time, Nintendo announced, but didn’t show the Wii U; the new generation of consoles were on the horizon.

I was incredibly inexperienced in the industry, but the floor was exciting.

I fell in absolute love with that environment. It had been a dream come true to visit and work the show. It takes a lot to get me emotional, but standing in the middle of the west hall got me a little teary-eyed.

I covered another show before joining KnowTechie team; by the time I started working with Kevin, I was an E3 pro.

I knew the attendees, the layout, the presenters. Getting around became easy, and my days were jam-packed with appointments.

E3 was a haven for gaming media professionals

Outside of the la conference center in 2005 with e3 banners up
By Cian Ginty, Attribution, Link

For journalists, E3 was a way to make sure you were speaking with knowledge about the things people were excited about. If you could talk to something directly, you had much more ground to stand on; exclusive coverage is always a plus.

This was the same for every writer there. I met and rubbed elbows with many experienced media folk and PR, many of whom I still speak with today. E3 set the stage for the next year of content.

I was able to speak with a PR contact of mine. While they don’t want to be named directly, they shared their E3 story with me:

It’s weird to miss an ostensibly capitalist venture.

It’s a pure commercial enterprise that was invented by a lobbying group and some publishers like SEGA as an alternative to the CTA’s CES, then hyped up by media as they were able to play games before everyone else.

Add in a theme park feel, some surprise celebrities, and licensing of gargantuan proportions, put it in LA, an area that was either really convenient or inconvenient depending on where you were coming from, and you have E3.

What made E3 special was seeing all my friends, making new ones, and yes showing off some stuff in secret.

I’ll never forget my first time through those convention center doors when I looked up at bedazzled booths and shining LCD screens, deafened by the din of mixing musical beats from half a dozen nearby booths.

Most of all, I’ll remember how few games I played because I didn’t set appointments.

E3 was more than just a show

Wide-angle view of the e3 crowd in 2017 inside the convention center
Image: ESA

For many people, E3 was an opportunity. You saw friends, connected with acquaintances, and made new ones.

As my PR friend pointed out, a ton was always going on, but nothing else can compare. I’ll undoubtedly miss E3, but I remain optimistic that the other shows will pick up the slack since the show has been struggling for years.

Do you have any favorite memories of E3? Was it time for the show to go the way of the dinosaurs or did you still think it had gas in the tank? Let us know, we’d love to hear more!

Have any thoughts on this? Drop us a line below in the comments, or carry the discussion to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Longtime games journalist and Florida resident. I'm a Guinness World Record holder, wordsmith extraordinaire, MOBA fan, devoted dad and husband. I'm here to spread the gospel of video games.

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