The ESA Lost Nearly $4 Million On The All-Digital E3 2021
Taking the annual industry event online did not prove to be financially beneficial.
As the video game industry tried to find its footing after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Entertainment Software Association elected to hold an all-digital E3 in 2021, which let developers and publishers hold online showcases under the show's banner. Based on public filings of financial records, that choice ended up losing more money than it earned.
Tax documents filed by the ESA in 2021--which are available for public consumption due to its nonprofit status--found by IGN show the organization spent a total of about $7.3 million on "conferences, conventions, and meetings" throughout the year. It was the second-highest expense the ESA reported for 2021, with wages--including $1.5 million to ESA president Stanley Pierre-Louis--being number one.
The form also lists names of contractors paid by the ESA for E3-related duties, which are as follows:
- $3.9 million to Paragon Creative Agency LLC for "trade show management"
- $1.6 million to Game Cloud Network Inc. for "E3 web platform"
- $580,000 to Smithbucklin for "trade show management"
The findings come alongside news that E3 2024 and E3 2025 are allegedly cancelled. The city of Los Angeles mentioned the cancellations during a recent City Tourism Board meeting, but the ESA maintains that no decisions have been made for future E3 conferences at the moment.
E3 2023 was canceled in late March after multiple companies--including Nintendo, Xbox, and Ubisoft--pulled out of the event. According to an email from the ESA to its members, the event "simply did not garner the sustained interest necessary to execute it in a way that would showcase the size, strength, and impact of our industry."
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