E3 2020 Digital Event Not Moving Forward

The digital event meant to replace the E3 2020 expo has been canceled. The trade show will return next year with E3 2021.

E3 2020 Digital Event
Photo: Mark Ralston/Getty

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has put the final nail in the coffin of E3 2020, confirming that there will be no digital event to replace the E3 expo held annually at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Originally scheduled for June 9-11, the trade show was canceled amid the coronavirus emergency that saw the virus spread through California and the rest of the country. At the time of the cancellation, the ESA said that it was looking into producing a digital event like the press conferences held by publishers every year. After evaluating the situation further, the ESA has decided not to pursue that contingency plan.

“Given the disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be presenting an online E3 2020 event in June,” the ESA said in a statement to IGN. “Instead, we will be working with exhibitors to promote and showcase individual company announcements, including on www.E3expo.com, in the coming months. We look forward to bringing our industry and community together in 2021 to present a reimagined E3 that will highlight new offerings and thrill our audiences.”

The announcement comes just a day after the ESA confirmed that it would put on a “reimagined” E3 2021 next June. The “reimagined” format was originally created for E3 2020 and is said to involve interactive spaces, “queuetainment” that advertises to attendees waiting in line for demos, and a greater emphasis on celebrities and streamers. This new format was one of the reasons why Sony decided to skip the trade show for the second year in a row and E3 Coliseum presenter Geoff Keighley dropped out.

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Meanwhile, Microsoft has announced that it is working on its own digital showcase to replace its E3 2020 presser. Ubisoft and Devolver Digital are following suit. WB had reportedly planned to host a press conference this year but has not yet revealed how it plans to proceed without the trade show.

IGN also unveiled its own Summer of Gaming digital event, which kicks off in June. The outlet is working with “2K, Square Enix, SEGA, Bandai Namco, Amazon, Google Stadia, Twitter, Devolver Digital, THQ Nordic, and more” to produce “live broadcasts and on-demand programming featuring IGN’s editorial coverage of the work of game developers from around the world.” IGN has promised “pre- and post-discussions, remote developer interviews, hands-on demos and preview impressions, gameplay, and news segments recapping the biggest announcements.”

With E3 2020 canceled and publishers finding new ways to reach consumers, we have to ask whether this could spell the end of the trade show as we know it. Much has already been written about how E3 needs to change to survive in an increasingly digital industry and the show’s current situation may be the best indication yet that this is the case.

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.