Although E3 once brought some of the biggest and most exciting announcements in gaming, it has become painfully obvious that the annual event has become more useless over the past few years. With Sony recently announcing that it plans on pulling PlayStation out of E3 2019, it seems that the video game trade show is no longer relevant on a fundamental level, but it's still something that remains an important part of the gaming industry.
E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo, first opened its doors in 1995 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. It was the result of the growth of the video gaming industry, with professionals believing that there was a need for a video game-specific trade show. That first E3 saw a total of 40,000 attendees, with the big three - Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo - representing their products there. Sega was also there, where it announced that its new system, the Saturn, would release the first day of the show, surprising its competitors. Sony responded by announcing the first PlayStation's price at $299, which was $100 cheaper than the Saturn. Nintendo introduced the Virtual Boy, and although that system was not a success for the company, the first E3 took the industry to a new level.
Over the years, E3 became the main place where gaming news broke and where companies made surprise announcements about new consoles, games, and partnerships. It was the biggest video gaming event of the year (from an industry standpoint) - despite not being the most attended (that honor goes to Gamescom in Germany, which saw 370,000 attendees in 2018).
Over the past five years, though, something changed. The Internet, along with social media, altered the way that the game industry made their announcements. Triple-A developers like Rockstar Games and Blizzard don't attend the event, and Activision stopped setting up its own booth. Nintendo continues to do Nintendo Directs, where it streams most of its big announcements and news directly to fans. Game publishing company EA even decided to do something similar over the past few years, running EA Play during E3 week in Los Angeles. Recently, Sony announced that it would not have a presence at the 2019 event.
The Electronic Software Association (ESA), which runs the event, is also aware that E3 has become less relevant. To combat a lack of interest from industry professionals, it decided to open up the trade show to the general public two years ago. This means that the expo shifted focus from its trade show status to something that's become more about the fans. Essentially, E3 is now just a video gaming convention similar to PAX. It's increasingly apparent that E3 has become more useless as a trade show, although it's still the place that industry professionals go to for networking and establishing partnerships. But with the game industry evolving in a way that allows each company to speak directly to its fans, the days of E3 being a hub for new gaming content every year is slowly but surely starting to go away.