Sony has been a mainstay of E3 since the LA expo’s inception in 1995, but the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which runs E3, revealed in a press release on Thursday that PlayStation will miss out on the festivities for the first time ever in 2019. While developers and publishers have dropped out of E3 in years past, the disappearance of the biggest name in console gaming this generation will be a major blow to the show.
The foundation of E3 has shown signs of weakening in recent years, with publishers like EA moving their showcases off the show floor and attempting to reach fans through other means. Nintendo has also abandoned traditional press conferences in recent years, opting to stream pre-recorded videos online instead.
It’s worth noting that this news comes just a couple months after the company revealed it would not hold its (relatively new) annual fan event, PSX, at the end of 2018, either. Here’s what Sony Interactive Entertainment chairman Shawn Layden had to say regarding the decision to skip PSX 2018 earlier this year:
Now that we have Spider-Man out the door, we’re looking down in 2019 to games like Dreams and Days Gone, but we wouldn’t have enough to bring people all together in some location in North America to have that event. We don’t want to set expectations really high and then not deliver on it. It was a hard decision, but we have determined that this year we will not hold PlayStation Experience.
Presumably, the same is true of E3 2019. If Sony doesn’t have enough to fill an hour-long press event, it might not be worth spending the money and the time to put on a press conference. There is also the distinct possibility that Sony is nearing the transitional phase between the twilight years of the PS4 and the launch of the PS5, in which case many of the first-party developers have likely shifted their attention to development of next-gen titles.
Until something leaks or Sony makes an announcement, we won’t know precisely why the company decided to break with tradition after 24 years and miss E3. Now — can E3 survive without Sony?
UPDATE | 11/15 at 4:33 PM: “As the industry evolves, Sony Interactive Entertainment continues to look for inventive opportunities to engage the community,” the company told Game Informer. “PlayStation fans mean the world to us and we always want to innovate, think differently and experiment with new ways to delight gamers. As a result, we have decided not to participate in E3 in 2019. We are exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019 and can’t wait to share our plans with you.”