Following more than a decade of annual trade events, future of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) now weighs solely on the shoulders of E3 2021.
According to a report by VGC earlier today, organizer Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has begun pitching publishers the plans to host E3 2021 as a three-day live-streamed event from June 15 to June 17, 2021.
The proposal has ESA outlining multiple two-hour keynote sessions, an awards show, an army of streamers and social media influencers, a preview night before the main event, and the involvement of other media and games partners for various buzz-creating activities. ESA also plans to use the week before E3 2021 as a preview-week where playable demos will be released across all platforms.
E3 2021 however still requires the approval of ESA which in return requires the confirmation of enough participants to make the trade event worthwhile. While that was never a concern before, the pandemic last year has more or less made it difficult to convince major publishers and developers to sign up.
ESA had no choice but to cancel E3 2020 after global lockdowns, social distancing, and overall safety precautions were enforced due to COVID-19. The Electronic Entertainment Expo had already seen several major publishers abandon their participation before the pandemic in favor of their own annual events such as Electronic Arts Play, Nintendo Direct, and Ubisoft Forward. Sony Interactive Entertainment as well parted ways to focus on its annual State of Play and PlayStation Experience events. COVID-19 only boosted the advantages of having your own digital events and which saw other publishers going online themselves to make announcements, updates, and reveals.
ESA announced last year that E3 2021 will be a “reimagined” event but as of now, any E3 iteration without the involvement of key publishers from the games industry makes for an unexciting event. Sony and Microsoft still remain to confirm if either of the two console manufacturers will be joining E3 2021 to promote the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X (including Series S) consoles.
If a digital-only E3 2021 fails to get traction or gets cancelled outright, the future of the expo might start to look pretty bleak.