The all-digital experience in 2021 not only cost a pretty penny upfront, but it was also a massive financial loss. Public tax filings from that year show the E3 online convention cost at least $6 million.
According to the tax statement for the year ending 2022, the ESA shelled nearly $4 million to Paragon Creative Agency for tradeshow management and another $1.6 million to Game Cloud Network for the “E3 Online Platform. While much money is spent on massive conventions like this worldwide and in several industries, E3 2021 was notoriously rough. Pages crashed, traffic was too high for the platform to handle, and the overall experience was not up to snuff.
Creating a flawless event would have been a tall task with the gaming industry stuck in an unprecedented place, trying to operate and survive in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. But the point still stands that the move to force the online-only event may have been costly on several levels.
The tax filings also show that 28 independent contractors were paid $100,000 or more for E3 2021. Only 5 of them are named. The balance sheet also points out that the event’s revenue totalled $3.4 million, a far cry from its massive operating cost.
We don’t know if expenses and losses like this contributed to the cancellation of the last two E3 conventions, but 2021 was the last time the decades-long premier gaming convention was held. Sure, the pandemic likely caused many issues for the ESA and anything E3 related. Still, with Summer Game Fest seemingly taking its place, it may not be so easy to get companies and gamers interested in the same way again.