136: It's happening, isn't it?

The firm behind PAX and Comic-Con is running E3 2023. Are the good times finally coming back?

I have deployed the hallowed Michael Cera GIF several times this week. Mostly it’s been prompted by the long-overdue collapse of the UK government, culminating in the even-more-overdue sort-of-resignation of the man pundits are correctly calling the worst prime minister our sorry kingdom has ever known. But I whipped it out (the GIF, that is, calm down) again yesterday afternoon at the news that E3 2023 will be run by ReedPop. If that name means nothing to you, it is the events firm behind the likes of PAX, Comic-Con and EGX, and the parent company of websites including Eurogamer, Gamesindustry.biz, VGC and Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

This is very promising news, I think, for the future of videogame Christmas. ReedPop has a proven track record in events, and deep game-industry expertise in its ranks. It promises to give the biggest show on gaming Earth the kick up the backside that even I, one of its most devout supporters, will admit it has needed for some time.

I spent a while yesterday pricing up flights and hovering over the ‘confirm booking’ button on the websites of Los Angeles hotels, exploring whether I can afford a trip under my own steam. Perhaps, if Hit Points’ remarkable recent growth continues (in the last 60 days, both total and paid subscriber numbers have grown by around 30%) and my consultancy work holds at its current pace (I am so busy I could die), we just might make it, you know. Heavens. Hit Points does real-E3. Imagine!

When I saw the news, my initial plan for today’s edition was to put on my Clever Consultant Hat and lay out the challenges that ReedPop faces in reinventing the show. Then I realised that GI.biz big man Chris Dring, who actually is consulting on the future of E3, had already done it (and very well, I must say, through only slightly gritted teeth). So, never mind. Let us take that as something of a jumping-off point, and see where we land.

The most encouraging thing in Chris’ piece is the recognition that E3 is so much more than a three-day event in the LA Convention Center. It is not a single show but a festival-style collection of them, spread all around Los Angeles. Indeed, over the years, as the focus has shifted from a primarily in-person event to a shindig attended via browser window by millions of people worldwide — and as companies that had been E3 fixtures for years started drifting away to do their own thing — the convention itself has felt less and less like the defining part of the week, and just another part of it instead. Recognising that EA Play, Devolver’s nonsense in the Hooters car park and all the other sideshows should be seen not as E3’s competitors but its collaborators suggests a mindset shift I’m not sure the ESA would ever have arrived at by itself, and it being long overdue does not make it any less welcome. Good stuff.

The awkward consequence of that, however, is that this reinvention is not entirely within ReedPop’s control. It will only work if everyone else is on board. To observers like us, things have simply not been the same these last few years. The hype levels have fallen through the floor as our traditional week-long celebration has been replaced by a drawn-out series of showcases, livestreams and trailers that are shown not when the schedule demands and fans expect them, but whenever their makers feel like it. This is not just about the pandemic, either. The final few pre-Covid E3s were as much defined by which companies weren’t there, and had decided to do things on their own terms, as those that were.

I want E3 back, sure, but does Sony, or Activision, or even Microsoft? E3 is an enormous expense for such companies — not just the millions spent on show floor space, booth construction and staffing, but in the resource commitment involved in getting demos ready in time. And when everyone is clustered together in the same place, at the same time, there is naturally a battle to be heard above the din. As such I’m not sure these folks miss E3 as much as we do. Sony announced God Of War: Ragnarok’s release date the other day, in a 30-second video. On the main PlayStation YouTube channel alone it already has almost four million views. Last year’s Horizon Forbidden West gameplay unveiling has over 10m. How inclined will Sony be to spend millions on returning to the new-look E3, when the organisers are already talking about broadening the show’s focus, and diluting viewer attention even further?

This is the greatest challenge facing ReedPop as it sets about reinventing the greatest show on planet videogames. It is far from the only circle in need of squaring, sure. But whatever ReedPop does in rebalancing E3’s trade-show component with the desire to open elements of it to the public, or in broadening the show’s range beyond triple-A blockbuster console games, will count for little if the major players aren’t involved. Chris makes a great point in his piece, about that timeworn post-show question: who won E3? “It's a fun question to answer as a journalist, but not as an event organiser,” he writes. “Because if the answer isn't 'everybody', you've probably not done a good enough job.” Quite. Couldn’t have put it better myself (ugh).

Obviously I hope, for reasons both professional and personal, that they pull it off, but the more I think about it, the harder a job it seems. But yes, fingers crossed it gets done, and that I’m able to get on a plane and see it for myself. Should probably start pushing paid subscriptions a bit harder, eh. Apologies in advance.


  • Remember when Axie Infinity got hacked to the tune of $520m? Turns out it was an inside job of sorts, though entirely accidental. It involved an elaborate recruitment scam, with multiple rounds of interviews leading to a lucrative job offer in a PDF document — which, when downloaded, installed spyware onto the developer’s workstation, allowing the thieves access to Sky Mavis’ systems.
  • The infamous Halo 2 demo from E3 2002 is among a raft of cut content that 343 Industries is revisiting and remastering for The Master Chief Collection. Awesome stuff, this.
  • Staff at Activision Blizzard are preparing another walkout, this time “in light of the recent attacks on the civil liberties of our employees.”
  • Over 500 companies will have a presence at Gamescom next month, organisers say.
  • Here’s the first NFT games console, which has saved me a job by dunking on itself.
  • US retail dinosaur GameStop has binned off its CFO after barely a year in the job, and is cutting staff across the company, including at Game Informer magazine. Thoughts with all those affected. Except the CFO, who will probably be fine, having reached the point in his career where one only ever fails upwards.
  • The US videogame market will decline in 2022, according to the market-research bods at NPD Group. They reckon total spending this year will reach $55.5bn, down 8.7% year on year, thanks to the rising cost of living, the lifting of pandemic-era restrictions, ongoing hardware supply problems, and a quieter release calendar.
  • Summer Games Done Quick raised over $3m for Médecins Sans Frontières. Lovely.
  • Fall Guys has been played by 50 million people since it went free-to-play two weeks ago. Cripes.
  • Diablo Immortal has made more than $1m a day since launch. Blizzard bossman Mike Ybarra insists that the vast majority of players are yet to spend a cent on the game, however.
  • Big Lego Bowser. There’s the eldest’s Christmas present sorted (unless I buy it for myself).

There you go! Apologies for my absence earlier this week — I had a scout around but there was nothing that particularly inspired me, and I am forever wary of falling into the trap of Man Forms Opinion On Thing To Hit Deadline. No point wasting anyone’s time, is there.

As ever, if you’ve enjoyed this, do give it a share. Particularly all you lovely newcomers! As a fully independent, one-man operation, with no corporate backing or marketing budget — and with Hit Points’ avowed lack of interest in making sacrifices to the SEO gods — I am almost entirely reliant on you fine folks helping to spread the word if this thing is to become a success.

And hey, perhaps you’d consider a paid subscription, if you like what you read and would like to see it continue. Just $5 a month earns you my eternal adoration and respect, and grants you access to the subscriber-exclusive interview series Max HP. I’ve been working on the next installment this week, though am nowhere near done with it. It is an absolute monster — based on almost three hours of interviews covering a career of over 30 years — but I hope to be sending it out to paid subscribers within the next couple of weeks. The interview for the one after it is already in the bag and transcribed, and is Hit Points’ biggest catch yet. Very exciting.

Have an excellent weekend, whatever it has in store for you. I will mostly be in the garden, enjoying some rare half-decent British weather, barbecuing everything in sight. See you on the flip.