As rumours predicted, E3 has officially been cancelled. Like all the other events cancelled recently, it's down to health concerns over the Covid-19 coronavirus. The highest-profile marketing event of the games industry calendar is binned.
"After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry – our fans, our employees, our exhibitors, and our longtime E3 partners – we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020," the Entertainment Software Association said today. They do say they're considering an online show for all the big announcements, though I'm sure we'd still hear them all if not.
"Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation," the ESA say on "E3's site. "We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event for our fans and supporters. But we know it's the right decision based on the information we have today."
Shortly after the E3 announcement, the World Health Organisation today declared the Covid-19 outbreak officially a pandemic, urging countries to treat it seriously and take meaningful action. Cancelling gatherings for thousands of people from across the world seems sensible.
Should the ESA not get plans for a big online announce-o-rama together, we'll surely still hear them all. The big publishers host their own livestreamed presentations anyway, and I don't know why they'd stop now. Microsoft and Ubisoft have already said they want to do it digitally. It's also become common for companies to post videos of E3 demos that once were shown behind closed doors to press. For people who don't attend the expo, only follow along at home, this year's E3 could largely be the same. With a weird tone.
They are currently planning for a physical event to return next year. I'd honestly be a little surprised if taking a break doesn't cause E3 to lose its inertia and fall over. It is a bit 90s, decreasingly useful in an online era. Which is probably why the ESA are trying to make E3 more of a public event for fans, not just a trade show.
"We look forward to bringing you E3 2021 as a reimagined event that brings fans, media, and the industry together in a showcase that celebrates the global video game industry," they said today. We'll see, aye.
This year's show was supposed to be a big revamp of the expo experience. The ESA said they were "collaborating with industry insiders and new creative partners, including the tastemakers at Iam8bit, to reinvigorate the show and, frankly, to shake things up." Well, the merchmakers at Iam8bit resigned their roles earlier this month, which didn't give the impression it was going great. E3 mainstay Geoff Keighley was also skipping it. I just don't know if I see E3 recovering.