Just a week after the Entertainment Software Association announced that E3 2020 was still full steam ahead, the longtime organizers of the Electronic Entertainment Expo issued a statement officially canceling the summer event.
After the cancellation of major global tech events such as GDC (the Game Developers' Conference) and SXSW in the face of the coronavirus threat, the cancellation of E3 seemed all but inevitable. E3 drew a crowd of over 66,000 attendees for the 2019 conference, marking it as the largest annual event in the gaming industry. However, the state of E3 has been in flux for some time now. After Playstation announced they wouldn't be at E3 for the second year in a row and prominent industry figure Geoff Keighly announced he wouldn't be attending the global trade show, fans began to wonder what exactly E3 2020 would look like. From the ESA Statement:
After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry – our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners – we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020, scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles.
Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation. We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event for our fans and supporters. But we know it’s the right decision based on the information we have today.
Our team will be reaching out directly to exhibitors and attendees with information about providing full refunds.
We are also exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020. Updates will be shared on E3expo.com.
We thank everyone who shared their views on reimagining E3 this year. We look forward to bringing you E3 2021 as a reimagined event that brings fans, media and the industry together in a showcase that celebrates the global video game industry.
In their statement, the ESA announced that they will also be exploring an online experience in June this year. Some publishers, such as Xbox, have already announced an online event independent of E3:
E3 has always been an important moment for Team Xbox. Given this decision, this year we'll celebrate the next generation of gaming with the @Xbox community and all who love to play via an Xbox digital event. Details on timing and more in the coming weeks https://t.co/xckMKBPf9h
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) March 11, 2020
Ubisoft has also announced an online digital event, though whether it will be part of an "Online E3 Experience" is not clear.
The health and well-being of teams, players and partners is our top priority, so while we're disappointed, we fully support the ESA's decision to cancel E3 2020. E3 is and will continue to be a moment where we come together as a community and share our love of games.
We're exploring other options for a digital experience that will allow us to share all the exciting news we have planned, stay tuned for more!
Devolver Digital, who has held a comedically-toned press conference for the last three years at E3, intends to air their scheduled "Devolver Direct" at an unspecified time as well.
The week of E3 has always been a big part of what we do and are genuinely bummed about the cancelation of the event itself.
Lots to juggle but right now we plan on having a livestream Devolver Direct / press conference and possibly more. pic.twitter.com/nGDAEsIzUs
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) March 11, 2020
No word yet from other conference regulars Nintendo, Square Enix, Bethesda Softworks, and EA on what their plans will be.
Gamers should still look forward to plenty of announcements and updates on upcoming games. Reputable industry insider Jason Schreier shared a rumor that the untitled Harry Potter RPG, the new Arkham game, and Rocksteady's new game were all planned to be showcased at E3. It seems likely that publishers will be airing online presentations of their intended releases this summer, though whether or not the E3 branding will be attached to these presentations remains to be seen.