The Entertainment Software Association, the company behind E3, is bringing the event back after it was cancelled in 2020 — and it reportedly plans to make the entire show digital.
According to a new report from Video Games Chronicle, the ESA sent out a pitch to game publishers for a three-day livestreamed event in June. It’d include several two hour-long keynote speeches, an awards show, and game demos that’d be streamed remotely to the media and simultaneously released on consumer platforms.
An ESA spokesperson confirmed to VGC that it was “transforming the E3 experience for 2021.”
Note that this proposal will still have to be approved by the ESA’s members, which include several major game companies, and they can also suggest changes to the plan. Whatever plans the ESA has might completely change before June comes around.
The cancellation of E3 2020 marked the first time since 1995 the event didn’t happen. The ESA shut down the event for the same reason it’s making E3 2021 virtual: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The outlook this year is still not rosy enough to justify a gathering on E3’s scale.
There was no official replacement event last year, so we all had to make do with a smattering of digital events held by the major companies. From the looks of the ESA’s proposals, this year’s event won’t be much different.
It begs the question: If the major companies can host a remote event just as informative and entertaining as an E3 show — and have already done so — then what incentive do they have to participate in E3? E3 2021 would be the ESA’s chance to show why E3 still matters in a world where Ubisoft/Activision/Microsoft/Sony/whoever can stream their game details directly to gamers and get just as much hype as they would at E3.
If/when the ESA nails down the details, the event will reportedly go live on June 15-17.