The E3 organizer is already planning a digital E3 2021, with presentations and online demos, although she will need the support of enough companies … who may have other plans, after their experience in the summer of 2020.
In just over four months the E3 2021, the famous video game fair held every year in Los Angeles, in the month of June. At least, those are the plans of the ESA (Entertainment Software Association), the organization behind the event. Last year, as you may well know, the fair was canceled due to the coronavirus, although they promised to return in June 2021 with a “reimagined” event.
The global situation due to the pandemic has not improved as much as we would like compared to last year, but now there is at least more room for maneuver and experience to be able to raise a digital E3. And that is the intention of ESA, which has already thought of everything … although it needs the support of enough companies. And that may not be so easy.
According to VGC, the ESA has already contacted the main companies, developers and publishers of the video game industry to show them their plans for E3, which would take place entirely online, with events and live presentations over several days, including an awards ceremony. Test demos of upcoming releases and developer interviews for the media through streaming, a solution that practically all companies have already standardized.
Although a physical event has not been completely canceled yet, it is clear that bringing together thousands of attendees, journalists, influencers and the general public in a convention center as in the past is not going to be physically possible this year.
E3 2021 vs. Summer Game Fest 2021
However, in order to carry out this “digital E3”, ESA would have to have the support of many of its members, who may have other plans. You will surely remember that the cancellation of E3 last summer made each company went their own way, organizing their own digital events, as they did Microsoft, Ubisoft or Nintendo, companies traditionally regulars at E3. According to VGC, at least one large company has declined to participate in this E3, focusing on its own online events.
To this must be added the loss of support carried over from years prior to the pandemic, as is the case of Sony and EA, who also held their own events (although in both cases very close to the typical dates of E3, mid-June).
Geoff Keighley, the renowned journalist and regular contributor to E3, organized his own event (or compendium of events) last year, the Summer Game Fest, and has confirmed to VGC that it will do so again this year, also declining to participate in E3. Many studios, especially indie companies, took advantage of some of Keighley’s events to publicly reveal their projects, and they might do so again.
However, not all companies replaced their traditional conference or presentation at E3 with an online event. Warner Bros., for example, had the intention (as reported by Jason Schreier) to host their own conference at E3 to present their new games (Harry Potter Hogwarts Legacy, Gotham Knights and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League) that ended up scattered in other events (DC Fandome and the September PS5 presentation).
Many companies might prefer a framework like E3, the age of which (it ran continuously from 1995 to 2019) is guaranteed to attract the attention of the general press better than an event like the Summer Game Fest (argument that ESA uses in its communication with companies).
According to ESA, they have already had “great conversations with publishers, developers and all kinds of companies, they are looking forward to sharing more details about their plans. “If it goes ahead, E3 2021 online would be held on the same planned dates, from June 15-17.