The COVID-19 pandemic has had an effect on every walk of life, including the video-games industry.
Over the last 6 months, multiple consequences of the worldwide phenomena have become clear. Multiple games have been delayed, a number of titles have been canceled and classic gaming conventions haven't seen the light of day. The launch of Cyberpunk 2077 rounded off the year in a disastrous fashion, with developers and the publisher now determined to succeed. While it feels like this bad news is closer to the end, nobody knows where the gaming industry will be a year from now.
Almost a year ago, The Entertainment Software Association decided to cancel E3 2020, bringing huge disappointment to a number of fans. Many held on to the possibility of an online event, but these rumors were shot down as “ the pandemic made it difficult to assemble the event .” With convention-goers now wondering how likely the event is to run in 2021, a recent document leak may have given insight into this year's plans.
VIRTUAL E3 FOR 2021
According to official E3 2021 pitch documents sent to publishers, reported by VGC , The Entertainment Software Association is planning to run the event completely virtual, spanning three separate days.
The event will reportedly still be held over the original date of June 15-17 and will consist of live-streamed content, media previews, and playable demos made available to viewers at home. These demos would include one-to-one assistance from developers, a feature seen regularly during the pandemic to test games.
Geoff Keighley, who quit the show last year following a disagreement of its direction, will once again not be involved with E3, following the successful launch of Summer Game Fest.
The 2021 plans still need to be approved by the ESA’s membership, which is made up of the biggest companies within the industry. At this stage, it is unclear how many of these companies have agreed to the plans.
EA, SONY AND ACTIVISION PAVING THE WAY?
The pressure is on this year for E3 and The ESA, and concrete plans for the event provide some a substantial look at what to expect.
The disappointing cancellation of E3 2020 highlighted the changes the event needed to make. Too long have conventions like this focused mainly on the press side of things rather than the games. The main goal should be to allow publishers and developers to showcase their creations, which may be easier with a virtual event.
While the teething problems may be an issue, the capability to provide demos and previews of games to players at home is an exciting one. Not only will more people be interested in the event, but the accessibility worldwide will also be phenomenal, allowing gamers from everywhere to be a part of E3 for the first time.
It's also key for E3 to do it right this year, with Summer Games Fest now breathing down their neck. Sony, Activision, and a number of other companies have elected to skip E3's of years past, forming their own events to showcase their games in their own way. If these companies continue to see the benefits of running an event on their own, E3 may struggle to keep customers interested.
E3 2021 will take place on June 15-17, with more details set to be released soon.