E3 is Back, and LA Stands to Make Up for Lost Millions

E3 is Back, and LA Stands to Make Up for Lost Millions

E3 will return to the Los Angeles Convention Center next year, bringing with it tens of millions in much-needed revenue for the city.

After canceling the show in 2020 because of COVID, going online-only in 2021, then again canceling the entire event this year, E3 is finally coming back to Los Angeles in-person next year and this time it is betting that a new event company, ReedPop, can help the struggling show ascend back to the peak of pop culture.

ReedPop has experience running blockbuster events like New York Comic-Con and the annual Star Wars Celebration hosted by Lucasfilm in Anaheim, and that focus on fandom could help reel in more people willing to shell out up to nearly $1,000 for E3 passes.

Started by the Entertainment Software Association in 1995, the in-person E3 conference has been held in Downtown L.A. consistently since 2008. Originally E3 was created to be a trade show event, but over the years it's morphed into more of a fan service, with publishers spending millions on flashy show booths and swag to entice fans into pre-ordering or buying their latest title.

It’s not just locals who are expected to pour in and stimulate the local economy–there’s a sizable contingent of fans who travel from other states or internationally to post up in Los Angeles for the week of E3, plus higher-spending executives from overseas gaming firms with big bankrolls.

Some 65,000 E3 attendees booked over 29,000 hotel rooms during the last in-person conference in 2019. That plus food, transit costs and other spending brought in over $83 million for the city, Los Angeles City Tourism Department Executive Director Doane Liu told dot.LA earlier this year.

After taking a beating during the early years of the pandemic, L.A.’s hotel occupancy was at 54% in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to data from the Downtown Center Business Improvement District. That’s slightly up from the 49% occupancy rate in 2020 reported by the City Tourism Department, but still nowhere near full.

Liu told dot.LA in January that the city collects a tax on hotel rooms booked, which helps boost the city’s overall budget. It also will “practically give away the Convention Center” if organizers book a specific number of rooms, Liu said, which is part of a plan to entice business travelers to come to L.A.

Until next year, though, the L.A. Live district Downtown that was completed in 2009 to cater to event-goers will remain eerily quiet. E3 is one of the Convention Center’s biggest events, though it did just see “tens of thousands” of anime fans descend on Downtown for the annual Anime Expo in June.

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Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College and previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.