Sony looks like they will be skipping E3 once again, as the ESA announced that a digital-only E3 2021 will be backed by Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, Take-Two, Warner Bros and Koch Media. Other notable companies missing from the show at this stage include EA, Activision, Sega, Bandai Namco and Square Enix.
E3 2021 will take place between 12th and 15th June this summer, and there’s still time for those companies to join the show.
ESA CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis said, “For more than two decades, E3 has been the premier venue to showcase the best that the video game industry has to offer, while uniting the world through games. We are evolving this year’s E3 into a more inclusive event, but will still look to excite the fans with major reveals and insider opportunities that make this event the indispensable center stage for video games.”
There’s no details at this point about how the digital event will be brought to the public, and reports and speculation that there could be a paid component to the show for the first time have been dispelled. Gamesindustry.biz currently expects there to be media-only days and streaming that could provide a hands-on experience for virtual attendees.
E3 2020 was cancelled in 2020 in the first months of the global pandemic, but the show was already under pressure and fighting for relevance. EA splintered off to host its own EA Play events in 2016, while Sony and Activision both decided to ditch the show in 2019 and had no intentions of returning for 2020.
2020 also showed that the games industry was capable of creating digital events in E3’s place. Microsoft and Sony both did their first gameplay reveals of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S on their own terms through the summer, Ubisoft created their first Ubisoft Forward stream, Nintendo Direct was digital (as always), and we saw things like the Guerrilla Collective acting as hubs for smaller developers and game announcements.
However, there was definitely a sense of game stream fatigue over the summer. E3 might be a bombastic mess of game announcements and reveals compressed into a matter of days, but it also helped to bring the industry into focus instead of a sporadic sprinkling across several months. 2021 seems like it will have a bit of both. Expect EA and Sony to find a little distance, but still have major game showcases comparable to what an E3 press conference would deliver.