E3 has been around since 1995, so this would’ve been the expo’s 25th year. However, due to the growing concern of the Coronavirus, this will be the first year that the Electronic Entertainment Expo will not be at the Los Angeles Convention Center as the ESA has now officially canceled E3 2020. So now that E3 has officially been canceled, where does that leave the Entertainment Software Association and the exhibitors and attendees that were planning on going to E3 this year?
The ESA has stated in a statement on their official website that they are looking into ways of bringing fans an online experience that will still allow the gaming industry to showcase their announcements. It’ll be interesting to see if the ESA does this or not as Microsoft and Ubisoft have since announced that they will be having their own digital events to showcase their upcoming games. As of yet, Bethesda is the only company that had a press conference last year that has not yet announced if they will be looking into hosting a digital event or presentation this year. But Bethesda will most likely follow Microsoft and Ubisoft by doing their own digital event.
Any game company could essentially do a digital event as it is much cheaper and requires less preparation than doing a live presentation in front of thousands of people. This means that even companies such as Capcom and Sega, who might not have as many games to show off as Microsoft or Ubisoft could do their own digital event. Look at Devolver Digital, they do their own digital presentation every year, and they usually have the most entertaining presentation out of all the gaming companies who have presentations. However to have a digital event or presentation a company generally needs to have a variety of games to announce and showcase, so if a company only has a few it might just be easier to show a short trailer for a game or two in a Microsoft, Nintendo, or Sony presentation along with just uploading the game trailers to YouTube rather than hosting a whole digital event or presentation.
What about the attendees though? The attendees that attend E3 would normally get hands-on experiences with upcoming games in addition to E3 swag and merchandise. While there is nothing that can be done about the swag and merchandise unless the ESA decides to sell or offer those things on their website. All hope is not lost for the hands-on experiences with upcoming games. As exhibitors can still offer these hands-on experiences they had planned for E3 in the form of demos on the PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, and/or Nintendo eShop.
This will allow attendees that are now no longer able to attend the canceled event to still get their hands-on experience with games that they were looking forward to trying out at E3 just from the comfort of their home. This approach would also allow many gamers that had no intention of attending or could not afford to attend E3 to try out demos of upcoming games that they previously would’ve never been able to try out if people could still attend E3 2020. Regardless of what the ESA and exhibitors decide to do when it comes to still deliver these hands-on experiences, the people who would be attending E3 will be missing out on the rush and excitement of E3 in addition to the long lines.
Now that E3 has been canceled, it is more than likely that other gaming-related events will be canceled as well especially if the concern over Coronavirus continues to grow. Just today, The BAFTA Game Awards which is usually a red carpet awards ceremony for video games announced that this year, The BAFTA Game Awards will just be an online ceremony this year. Various Street Fighter V tournaments have also been canceled. Outside of the gaming-related events, CinemaCon, Ultra Music Festival, and Coachella have all been either canceled or postponed. Fast & Furious 9 which was scheduled to release in theaters on May 22, was postponed a whole year. All these postponements and cancellations along with the travel ban to and from Europe put in place by President Trump and the ban on all gatherings of 250 people or more put in to effect in California by California Governor Gavin Newsom are all due to the growing concern of Coronavirus. As of right now EVO 2020 and Pax West 2020 have not been canceled, but if Coronavirus fears continue to grow, expect the worst.
While E3 may be canceled for 2020, E3 will be back for 2021. When it returns it will likely be a different kind of event than we last saw it in 2019. E3 was already looking to change for 2020 and it seems like the Coronavirus and the increase in events going from physical and live to digital, E3 will be an entirely different beast when it returns in 2021.