Fans line up at Sony’s booth during E3 2018.
Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Sony is skipping next year’s E3, ditching its traditional booth and press conference in a move that will have a significant negative impact on the video game industry’s annual trade show.

The Entertainment Software Association, the lobbyist group that runs E3, confirmed the news today, as did Sony.

“As the industry evolves, Sony Interactive Entertainment continues to look for inventive opportunities to engage the community,” said Sony in a statement. “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.”

This is yet another blow to the annual Los Angeles trade show, which has seen multiple publishers drop out over the past few years. Electronic Arts now holds its own event in Hollywood in the days leading up to E3, while last year Microsoft rented out a theater at L.A. Live, a few minutes away from the convention center where E3 takes place. Nintendo has spent the past five years eschewing traditional press conferences in favor of pre-recorded videos, and with Sony gone, one of E3's other marquee press conferences will now also not be present in 2019.

Sony also typically occupies a massive chunk of one of the convention center’s two main halls, so the company’s absence will leave a significant hole for the ESA to fill.

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The move makes sense for Sony, as the company’s 2019 presser would presumably revolve around three of the four games it showcased last year: Death Stranding, The Last of Us 2, and Ghost of Tsushima, none of which currently have release dates. All three are expected to come out in the latter half of 2019 or later.

Sony also skipped this year’s PlayStation Experience, a conference that it had held every December from 2014 through 2017.

It’s also yet another hint at the timing of Sony’s next PlayStation. Based on conversations with developers across the industry, I expect the PlayStation 5 to be released in 2020, and the publisher skipping E3 2019 certainly points to that.