The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is a major gaming event that started in 1995 in Los Angeles, California and has been held every year since. Though dwarfed in attendance numbers by events like Gamescom and PAX, due to it being primarily industry only, it has a unique place in gaming culture. It is traditionally where new franchises are shown for the first time, where new consoles are unveiled and played live for the audiences, and where long-awaited new installments or franchise reboots are given their introductions. The entire gaming world watches E3, ensuring that these new debuts will have the most exposure possible.
The first E3 was held by the Interactive Digital Software Association, now known as the Entertainment Software Association, after the organization was created in 1994. Before E3 was formed, game companies attended the Consumer Electronics Show, but CES' disdain for the game industrynote and unwillingness to accommodate them lead to the creation of a separate show.
Though the show was originally primarily for retailers (like other trade shows), E3 has shifted over the years to become a video game trade show for the industry at large, including journalists, marketing executives, and those watching at home. Other expos are focused on other aspects of gaming — PAX for the community (and tabletop/card games), GDC for game developers, DICE for executives — but E3 is for everyone, regardless of where they fit in the spectrum of gaming.
The expo is still immensely popular, and the entire gaming world has its eyes focused on Los Angeles for the roughly week-long event. It is a source of both joy and heartbreak, of incredibly ecstasy and mouth-frothing rage, and everything in between. Though fandoms the world over may feel elation at the announcement of a new entry in a long awaited franchise, other announcements, or a lack thereof, can easily cause huge backlashes, often in the forms of Flame Wars, They Changed It, Now It Sucks!, Broken Base, Accentuate the Negative, and many others.
Due to the massive intersection of all aspects of games and gaming, controversial issues and events often spring back to up relevance around E3, since the issues tend to resurface or the events are referenced, directly or otherwise. For all that E3 unites the gaming community, it also serves as a stark reminder of underlying problems within gamer culture and business, with the various presentations and interviews subject to a large amount of critical and commercial analysis.
The huge focus isn't all bad, though - all the attention means that certain events in the show are ripe for Memetic Mutation. Sony's disastrous 2006 conference is a good example of this, as that single event alone named three tropes and an index. It also means that if a mistake is made twice it will be noticed, even if the mistake is made by different person(s).
The show itself has undergone some changes over the years. After a wildly successful debutnote , the show grew larger and larger and developed something of an unsavory reputation, partly due to the large, unruly crowds and the liberal use of "booth babes", attractive women who draw attention to the games they're advertising. Rule changes in the late 2000s lead to E3 falling somewhat out of favor, but the show stabilized in the early 2010s and regained its place as the event to drop news at.
The late 2010s brought a number of changes to E3 (the public is now allowed to attend, for one), mostly due to the onset of 24/7 games journalism and broadband internet - companies began to question the value of a show that was expensive to attend and a hassle to develop demos fornote as opposed to simply hosting their own events online and reaching roughly the same audience. Sony skipped E3 entirely in 2019 for this reason, joining Nintendo in doing news drops every few months via online webcasts. How E3 changes in the coming years to accomodate the shifting landscape of the video game business remains to be seen.