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ESA revenue dropped $10 million in E3 2020's absence

Trade body's takings fell 25% year-on-year as pandemic impacted the industry

The Entertainment Software Association saw a big drop in revenue when the coronavirus pandemic cancelled E3 2020.

Axios has published a review of the trade body's tax filings for the year ended March 31, 2021, which shows the organisation's revenues reached $40 million. That's a year-on-year decline of $10 million or 25%.

The ESA is funded by membership fees -- with 30 members, including giants such as Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, Tencent and Electronic Arts -- as well as charges for game ratings by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, which the trade body operates.

Membership fees are not disclosed, although Axios notes an Activision filing shows it paid $680,000 in 2021.

E3 is also a huge source of income for the ESA, but the show was cancelled in 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The previous year, the last physical version of the show, generated $17 million for the organisation. Full-year convention and meeting costs were reported as $12 million.

The filing also gives some insight into what the ESA spends on, with $2.5 million spent on lobbying US lawmakers on behalf of the industry, and millions more spent on advocacy for issues such as IP rights, child safety, STEM education and free speech.

E3 returned as a digital event in 2021, although was cancelled again in 2022 as the pandemic began to spike once more.

The trade show will return as an in-person event in the second week of June 2023, organised by GamesIndustry.biz parent ReedPop.

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James Batchelor

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James Batchelor has been a journalist in the games industry since 2006, joining GamesIndustry in 2016, and also runs Non-Violent Game of the Day (@NVGOTD). He does play violent games, but always on Story/Easy mode.

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