The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is dead. Following cancellations in 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, and Thursday’s revelation that it won’t return to Los Angeles in 2024 or 2025 either, you can safely stick a fork in the world’s former most influential gaming show. It’s done, replaced by events that stream online like the Summer Game Fest, Nintendo Direct, PlayStation Showcase, Xbox Games Showcase, and Ubisoft Forward.
But given how seemingly easily it’s been replaced, you might be wondering: how big a deal was it, really?
In 2016, I wrote for CNET how it was actually becoming less of a gamer’s mecca every year, and you aren’t really missing that much. But when I ran the numbers today, they told a slightly different story — E3 had roughly doubled in size and more than quadrupled in economic impact before the pandemic laid it low.
I didn’t choose 2009 and 2019 just to make a nice round decade: it’s the first year after E3 returned to the LA Convention Center, and the last year before the show was canceled.
And its loss will be a blow to Los Angeles. Last year, LA Tourism executive director Doane Liu told dot.LA’s Samson Amore that E3 represented an injection of $83.4 million to the city’s economy, much of it in hotel rooms where the city collects tax revenue.
“We practically give away the convention center if [organizers] agree to book a certain number of hotel rooms… It’s really an incentive to bring business travel to Los Angeles,” Liu told the publication.
E3 isn’t the only event that’s big business for LA, though. To put these numbers in perspective, the LA Tourism Board reported that E3 generated $75 million for the city in 2017, and that the Los Angeles Convention Center had a total economic impact of $780 million that year — so the big game show was only a tenth of what the city’s big expo building brought in, to say nothing of LA’s other attractions.