Following the postponement of this year's Game Developers Conference due to concerns about the Covid-19 virus, the organisers of other upcoming games events must surely be asking themselves that same difficult question. For E3 2020, at least, the Entertainment Software Association say they're keeping an eye on things but "moving ahead full speed" with planning. Which I guess means they're are hoping this will have blown over by June?
"Everyone is watching the situation very closely," the ESA told Vice Games on Friday after the GDC news broke. "We will continue to be vigilant, as our first priority is the health, wellness and safety of all of our exhibitors and attendees. Given what we know at this time, we are moving ahead full speed with E3 2020 planning. Exhibit and registration sales are on track for an exciting show in June."
E3 2020 is due to run June 9th to 11th. Will the coronavirus have faded away by then, will people just not care as much, or will great swathes of events be cancelled? The USA presently seem to be doing not much of anything about it, in contrast to the serious organised responses in countries such as China and South Korea, which doesn't bode well if this does turn out to be an enduring threat.
As with GDC, a lot of the power to decide if E3 goes ahead will lie with the big companies who draw crowds and pay for space. If enough of them pull out to protect their employees, the ESA will surely follow. It might not be encouraging to them that the ESA have boasted about planning "a large, super fun floor experience" and are reportedly selling an extra 10,000 tickets to the public this year too.
If E3 were cancelled as an expo this year, a lot of the big publisher presentations which anchor the week would likely still go ahead. Those can be broadcast from anywhere and some are already prerecorded. Previews would be a no, but publishers are increasingly tending to put their own videos of their E3 demos on YouTube. And interviews are 90% useless anyway. E3 week without an expo could largely be the same as far as the public see, and the big presentations would be better without members of the media whooping at marketing.