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An illustration of a hand of a person holding a smartphone with an Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) logo displayed in the background. Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

In the wake of COVID, the gaming industry is struggling to adapt its established in-person events to match the current needs — and technology — of the world.

Driving the news: E3 is gaming's biggest event, but its venture into the digital space has been rough.

Why it matters: The head of E3 called the show as the industry's "center of gravity," a year after COVID forced organizers to cancel and left industry observers.

  • "What we heard last year from fans is that they loved being able to learn more about games, but they also appreciated the opportunity to be able to have these events in a concentrated period of time," ESA CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis said.
  • There will be other conferences and events to come, but "E3 really is a focal point for industry" that (typically) allows developers to connect in person.
  • When it comes to digital vs. in person events, he thinks "both have tremendous value."

Between the lines: Part of programming the event meant finding a way to balance the typical E3 — where several events are happening simultaneously — with the need to now let viewers at home watch the show sequentially.

  • That includes a mix of press conferences, gameplay presentations, and talks.
  • This plays into the role of E3's hosts this year. "For the first time, we'll have hosts to help create continuity over the four days," said Pierre-Louis.
  • The ESA made the call to hold an all-digital event "several months out," Pierre-Louis told Axios.

The big picture: In the absence of E3 last year, season-long digital events like Summer Game Fest were created to help fill that void. And since it was conceived as an entirely online event, SGF hasn’t had to dance around the difficulties of predicting reopenings or struggling to upgrade tech.

As for criticism, Pierre-Louis says the ESA has taken notes particularly around the portal's character creation system.

  • "The feedback we've gotten rightly points out that we need to provide more options so that users can express themselves as they want to be seen," he said. "We've made this a priority for the portal team and we're working to resolve it as soon as possible."

What's next: Next year's event will be a "hybrid" of digital and physical. "We're creating new experiences that we hope will transfer well to a physical E3 as well, and as we continue our experiment, we'll continue to iterate. We'll take user feedback."

Go deeper

Biden says presidency "will be determined" by outcome of spending plans

President Biden walks with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after addressing the House Democratic caucus on Thursday. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden told the House Democratic caucus Thursday "my presidency will be determined" by the votes he wants in the next week on his $1.75 trillion social safety net expansion and $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

Driving the news: Biden made the comment, according to a source in the room, as he tried to rally support for the $1.75 trillion package. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acted immediately, calling for a vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill later in the day.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
36 mins ago - Energy & Environment

China declines to speed emissions cuts in new UN pledge

A view of the skyscrapers in the haze in Shanghai, China, in December 2020. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Chinese leaders are sticking with a prior target to bring the country's carbon emissions to a peak before 2030, according to documents filed with the United Nations Thursday under the Paris climate agreement.

Why it matters: The new documents come just days ahead of the UN climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow. China is by far the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, and its emissions path is key to whether the temperature-limiting goals of the Paris agreement can remain within reach.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden lays out $1.75 trillion "framework" before Europe departure

President Biden in Kearny, N.J., on Oct. 25. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

President Biden announced Thursday a "framework" for $1.75 trillion in social program and climate change spending after failing in prior efforts to win over his fellow Democrats on a much broader and costlier package.

Why it matters: Biden is gambling that by proclaiming the broad contours of the proposal, which he immediately began selling in a meeting with House Democrats before jetting off to Europe, progressives will vote for his $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan if and when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brings it to the floor.