Geoff Keighley Pulls Out Of E3: It ‘Needs To Be More Digital, Global’

Geoff Keighley Pulls Out Of E3: It ‘Needs To Be More Digital, Global’
Image: ESA

Someone like Geoff Keighley won’t have the same financial impact for E3 as, say, Sony refusing to buy booth space. But when it comes to the broader narrative about where E3 is headed, it’s not a good look.

The games industry veteran and director of The Game Awards, Keighley posted a statement announcing “the difficult decision to decline to produce E3 Coliseum”. The statement on Twitter didn’t explain why Keighley turned down the presenting gig at E3, but in follow-up statements and interviews the reasoning became more clear.

“Based on what’s been communicated to me about the show, I just don’t feel comfortable participating,” Keighley told the Washington Post. “It’s no secret that E3 needs to evolve and I have lots of ideas around that, but have decided to take a wait-and-see approach,” Keighley added.

In a follow-up interview with Games Industry, Keighley said E3 was “evolving from what was traditionally an industry trade show”.

“I think E3 needs to be more digital, global and inclusive in its approach to connecting gamers and celebrating the industry. It’s not really about who buys a booth on the show floor. Anyone who participated in The Game Festival on Steam around The Game Awards probably has a pretty good sense of my vision for how we bring the world together around games,” Keighley said.

The comments perhaps provide an indicator of how serious the ESA, organisers of the annual video game exhibition, were about transforming E3. According to a leaked presentation deck, ESA proposed transforming the show floor to highlight activations and celebrity experiences, with the intention to create “exclusive/appointment only activations for select attendees who will create buzz and FOMO”.

In the deck, E3 talked about parterning with influencers that could amplify E3’s capacity to highlight gender equality and other “relevant social good efforts”. The ESA also pitched paid media partnerships that would allow “ESA to control content and the message”. Another idea included packaging game demos into the E3 Digital Ticket, letting “fans who want to experience the games showcased on the floor” access to “time-limited demos that are enjoyed through a cloud-based portal”. The data from that ticket would then be shared with participating developers and publishers, letting them send “follow-up marketing” and “offers for pre-orders”.


  • If we didn’t already have strong evidence that E3 is dead.

    I’m gonna be sad on the day I can’t sit and watch all the conferences live.

  • I never understood why E3 started letting non-press in, they should have a completely different event for people to get swag and try out early release demos.

    E3 should be so much more focused on industry interviews and presentations. Having general admin flag up the showroom floor has hurt the amount of coverage we get from outlets, which in turn has limited the relevance if E3.

    • I don’t think it is that surprising a change. Under the old model as a trade show where only the press, game studios, and publishers were in attendance, many studios would use it as an opportunity to brief journalists about what was in development. This would lead to many news articles about announcements tied to the E3 brand.

      It’s a small step to invite the public and let studios announce things directly. The public gets to see this thing they’ve heard all about but were couldn’t see directly, and the studios don’t need to worry about journalists providing opinion on their announcements.

    • reason they begun to allow public access to the event is because of a heavy decline in attendance. It was meant as a solution to increasing numbers, therefore increase revenue.

      running such a large scale event strictly funded by exhibitors is just no longer sustainable.

  • I get what you’re saying, but even if they were run simultaneously, giving the people the actually to do a job some space seems like a better idea. Journos are there booking in interviews all throughout the day, if the line for every game they aren’t getting a closed door demo of is over an hour long, chances are they’ll have to choose between either getting a hands on, or an interview. Considering the cost of press badges are between $700-1000 USD, it starts to become a hard sell.

    If E3 ran a more “Pax” like event somewhere on the east coast at the same time, with lives streams for all major conferences (or even having the conferences cross between both stages), everyone would end up getting more bang for their buck.

    • My point is that E3’s purpose has always been to increase sales of video games. It was only about the press in as much as the press helps them sell video games. If they can do the same thing without the press, and without the risk that a journalist won’t be impressed with what they’re shown and warn off potential customers, all the better.

      Put together a well produced stage show in front of a packed crowd, and the big video game websites will happily rebroadcast the feed you provide them unchanged, and then report on the contents of that stage show.

      This is clearly a step backward for independent journalism, but that’s never been a concern of the ESA.

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