E3 2021 to be held in June as ‘reimagined’ all-digital event

E3 is coming back, but in a different way


The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has announced that it will hold an all-digital version of its annual Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) gaming trade show in June.

Last year’s E3 was cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with the ESA ultimately not opting to go forward with a virtual event.

In a press statement, the ESA says it still aims to return to an in-person show in 2022, but for now, it’s preparing a “reimagined, all-virtual E3 2021 that will engage video game fans everywhere” between June 12th and 15th. Specifically, the games industry lobbying group says it will work with developers to help them showcase “their latest news and games,” as well as media partners globally “to help amplify and make this content available to everyone for free.”

As it stands, the ESA says publishers who have confirmed their participation in this year’s E3 so far include Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Games and Koch Media. PlayStation, which had notably opted to not attend E3 2019 (and was preparing to skip 2020’s show pre-pandemic) is unsurprisingly not listed. Ubisoft is the first publisher to confirm a date for its E3 keynote: Saturday, June 12th.

However, the ESA notes that these are “early commitments,” which seems to leave the door open for additional companies to join the show in the new two months.

The ESA elaborated on how it aims to bring “E3 experience” to fans beyond the typical game announcement-filled streams. In particular, the company says it will offer “major exhibitor showcases,” “live press conferences,” an “exclusive online portal and supporting mobile app,” as well as “special events,” “must-see shows,” “high-profile hosts” and “charitable initiatives.”

In recent years, the Los Angeles-based show ceased being an industry-only event and began to include members of the public, allowing thousands of everyday gamers to roam the show floor and try various game demos. The ESA says 66,100 people attended 2019’s in-person show.

Last week, VideoGamesChronicle reported that the ESA was considering locking some of this experience this year behind, such as through a ‘premium’ package that includes on-demand game demos. However, the ESA responded that “there will be no elements at E3 2021 that will be behind a paid-for pass or paywall.”

This isn’t the only big virtual gaming event planned for this summer. Geoff Keighley, the Canadian producer of The Game Awards, is also bringing back ‘Summer Game Fest‘ in June. Keighley launched the all-digital show last year as a way to offer months of game announcements amid the pandemic.

Update 06/05/2021 at 11:41am ET — Square Enix, Sega, Bandai Namco, Gearbox and Xseed have also confirmed their participation in this year’s E3.

Image credit: ESA

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