Following earlier rumors, a Microsoft spokesperson has now confirmed to IGN that Xbox won’t have a presence on the physical showfloor at the upcoming E3 2023.
This year, Microsoft’s efforts will focus on the Xbox Games Showcase, which is scheduled to take place on June 11th. The company plans to co-stream it as part of E3 Digital, but that’s about the extent of their contribution to this year’s edition of the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
It is unclear why Microsoft would choose this course. Phil Spencer, the company’s CEO of Gaming, had expressed support for E3 just about a month ago. In an interview with IGN, he had called the Electronic Entertainment Expo one of the seminal moments of gaming, adding that Microsoft (a board member of the Entertainment Software Association, or ESA) would continue working with the ESA to make the event successful.
The absence of Microsoft and Xbox will certainly be troublesome for E3 in a year that marks its return as a physical event for the first time since 2019, the pre-COVID era. It’ll be even more so if the remaining parts of the aforementioned rumor turn out to be true, with the other platform holders (Sony and Nintendo) also reportedly foregoing E3 2023.
It’s not all doom and gloom for the event yet, though. Other major publishers may well attend, such as Ubisoft, with CEO Yves Guillemot going on record with the following quote:
If E3 happens, we will be there, and we will have a lot of things to show.
Meanwhile, the new organizers of the event at ReedPop (the same company behind Penny Arcade Expo) just revealed that the E3 2023 Digital Week will open on Sunday, June 11th, featuring recurring events like the Future Games Show and the PC Gaming Show. Others are planned, according to ReedPop, but will be unveiled at a later date.
The actual physical event will take place as usual at the Los Angeles Convention Center between June 13th and June 16th. It will be split between E3 Business Days for the press and E3 Gamer Days for the public.
The Xbox Games Showcase due to air at E3 2023 Digital will be particularly important for Microsoft, too. 2022 was a disappointing year in terms of first-party releases, so Xbox fans are eagerly anticipating new looks at upcoming exclusives. Moreover, Bethesda Game Studios announced that the Starfield Direct will air just after the Xbox Games Showcase, finally unveiling the upcoming open world sci-fi RPG from the makers of Skyrim.