Last year, video game companies’ ever-changing individual responses to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that we had events somewhat tediously scattered across the entire year.
Thankfully, that won’t be nearly as much of an issue in 2021, as game companies are now banding together to have more consistent reveals that emulate the more traditional summer event season. In this case, these come in the form of E3 2021 and Summer Game Fest, and because the pandemic is still ongoing, both events are fully digital to let fans experience them fully from home.
With all of that said, we’ve rounded up everything you should know about these two events, including when they’re happening, how to tune in and what you can expect from them. Given that new information about these kinds of events can often come at the last minute, we’ll also update this story accordingly over time.
Summer Game Fest
— Summer Game Fest – LIVE Today! (@summergamefest) June 1, 2021
Geoff Keighley, the Toronto-born producer of The Game Awards, launched ‘Summer Game Fest‘ (SGF) last year, a four-month-long all-digital expo to feature game reveals and other announcements.
However, in bringing SGF back this year, Keighley is addressing feedback that last year’s reveals were too spread out. This time, SGF is more condensed; it’ll begin on June 10th and run until about mid-July. The entire event will be free to everyone — no digital badge required.
So far, we don’t know much of the SGF programming besides a major ‘Kickoff Live!’ event, which will open the show on June 10th at 11am PT/2pm ET.
As it stands, we don’t know exactly what games to expect from the show. That said, if you’ve watched one of Keighley’s other live gaming shows — namely, The Game Awards or Gamescom’s Opening Night Live — then the Kickoff Live! format should be familiar to you.
Running for about two hours, Kickoff Live! will feature more than 30 games in total from the likes of PlayStation, Xbox, Square Enix, Activision, Amazon, 2K, Capcom, EA and Bandai Namco. There will also be musical performances from the likes of Weezer and the Sonic Symphony orchestra. Day of the Devs, an annual indie game showcase curated by Psychonauts devleoper Double Fine and entertainment production company iam8bit, will also be held during Kickoff Live!
Keighley will also appear in a showcase from Koch Media, the owner of publisher Deep Silver, on June 11th at 12pm ET/3pm PT. We don’t yet know what will be featured in this stream other than it not having Saints Row, Metro, Dead Island or TimeSplitters, but you can tune in here.
— E3 (@E3) June 8, 2021
Normally, E3 is held in person in Los Angeles every June, but the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has opted for a fully virtual event amid the pandemic.
This will take place online from June 12th to 15th following media-only days on June 7th to 11th. E3 will be free for everyone, although you’ll need to register for a digital badge through the official website. Fans can do this starting June 3rd.
Once registered, you’ll be able to access a variety of programming through a dedicated portal and app, including:
- Exhibitor Booths — Each exhibitor will have its own hub for special events, VOD content, big announcements and more
- Forums — Fans will get a dedicated space for online discussion
- Leaderboards — Fans can interact through “gamified” show elements that can be collected and displayed
- Lounges — Online gathering spots for attendees
- Profile Creation — A tool to create your own unique profile within the portal and app
Note that the portal and app aren’t live yet, but we’ll update this story with links once they are. Thankfully, the ESA at least isn’t actually planning to ban the word “Canada” when fans eventually get their hands on these public forums.
So far, nearly every major publisher besides PlayStation has confirmed participation in this year’s E3, including Xbox, Nintendo, Ubisoft, Square Enix, Capcom Bandai Namco, Sega and Warner Bros. The full schedule can be viewed above, but here’s a more detailed breakdown of the major events:
Ubisoft Forward — Saturday, June 12th at 3pm ET
Let's get together for #UbiForward! Tune-in this June 12:
— Ubisoft (@Ubisoft) June 3, 2021
In terms of what to expect, Ubisoft has teased the world premiere of gameplay from Ubisoft Montreal’s Rainbow Six: Extraction, more from Ubisoft Toronto’s Far Cry 6, the extreme sports game Riders Republic and “a few additional surprises.” The Prince of Persia: Sands of Time remake, meanwhile, will not make an appearance.
A pre-show will begin at 2pm ET and offer updates on “live games” like Watch Dogs: Legion, Brawlhalla, For Honor and The Crew 2.
Gearbox — Saturday, June 13th — Saturday, June 12th at 5pm ET
The Borderlands company will have some sort of showcase to reveal “everything that [it] has been busy getting its hands into.”
Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase — Sunday, June 13th at 1pm ET
Fortunately, the company has been fairly forthcoming about what we can expect from its big event — a major emphasis on games from Bethesda, which it recently acquired. The most prominent of these is Fallout and The Elder Scrolls developer Bethesda Game Studios’ Starfield, a new sci-fi IP that was revealed at E3 2018.
We have since seen nothing official from the game, but rumours from credible industry tipsters suggest Starfield will make a big splash at E3. The official logo for the ‘Xbox & Bethesda’ event seemingly shows the same planet we’ve seen in Starfield‘s official artwork.
What’s undeniable from that logo, though, is Halo‘s Master Chief, which suggests we’ll get an update on the long-awaited Halo Infinite. Other Xbox Game Studios titles that could make an appearance include Ninja Theory’s Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, Double Fine’s Psychonauts 2 and the Perfect Dark reboot from Xbox’s new ‘The Initiative’ team.
Finally, Xbox promises some updates on new games coming to its ever-growing Game Pass service.
Square Enix — Sunday, June 13th at 3:15pm ET
— Square Enix (@SquareEnix) June 3, 2021
Square Enix will have a 40-minute ‘Presents’ stream after Xbox’s E3 event. The company has teased that we can expect a brand-new game announcement from Canada’s own Eidos Montreal (Shadow of the Tomb Raider), as well as an update on the Platinum game Babylon’s Fall, a breakdown of Life is Strange: True Colors and the Black Panther expansion for Marvel’s Avengers.
It’s worth noting that credible industry reporter Imran Khan reported last month that Square Enix is also planning to reveal a ‘Soulsborne’ style Final Fantasy action game developed by Team Ninja, the makers of Nioh, at E3.
Warner Bros. — Sunday, June 13th at 5pm ET
— Back 4 Blood (@back4blood) June 8, 2021
Warner Bros. will have a showcase focused solely on Back 4 Blood, its Left 4 Dead spiritual successor.
Take-Two Interactive — Monday, June 14th at 1:15pm ET
While the Rockstar Games parent company hasn’t said what its panel might have, its E3 slate has seemingly leaked. You can check that out here if interested.
Indie Showcase — Monday, June 14th at 3pm ET
“Several indie developers” will have presentations in an ‘Indie Showcase.’
Capcom — Sunday, June 13th at 5:30pm ET
Join us for the Capcom showcase at #E32021 for news on our latest games lineup, including:
🗯 The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
🥚 Monster Hunter Stories 2
🐉 Monster Hunter Rise
🏰 Resident Evil Village
📅 June 14 @ 2:30pm PDT pic.twitter.com/X1K882Ew8f
— Capcom USA (@CapcomUSA_) June 8, 2021
Capcom will have news on its “latest games lineup,” including The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles and Monster Hunter Stories 2.
Nintendo — Tuesday, June 15th at 12pm ET
The company says the presentation will be focused “exclusively on Nintendo Switch software” that’s “mostly releasing in 2021.” At first glance, this seems to rule out hearing about the long-rumoured 4K-capable ‘Switch Pro.’
However, it should be noted that Bloomberg reported last week that Nintendo is planning to reveal the new hardware before E3 to allow companies to show off their upgraded Switch games at the actual show. This means that we could still see ‘Switch Pro’ games during Nintendo’s E3.
Beyond the new Switch, we can only hope that Nintendo will finally show off more from the untitled Breath of the Wild sequel, which was revealed two years ago with no new footage since. Additionally, it seems like a safe bet we’ll see more from the Pokémon Diamond and Pearl remakes — as well as, potentially, Pokémon Legends: Arceus — and a new DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Finally, Nintendo says it will have a three-hour ‘Treehouse Live’ event after the Direct to offer “deep dives into select games.”
Outside of E3 and Summer Game Fest, EA has a Battlefield VI reveal set for June 9th and EA Play Live — which normally would happen the week of E3 — on July 22nd. However, since that’s a while away, we don’t yet have any other info like a specific time.
Additionally, we have no idea when — or even if — PlayStation will do anything of its own, outside of whatever it has in store for SGF Kickoff Live! It’s worth noting that the company did just have a ‘State of Play’ stream focused on Horizon Forbidden West, which is slated to release later this year.
Finally, there’s a completely separate ‘Wholesome Direct’ that’s happening the weekend of E3 on Saturday, June 12th. More than 70-plus indie games will be featured, including Canadian-made Venba and Canadian co-developed Moonglow Bay.
It's almost time! Tune into #WholesomeDirect this Saturday, June 12 at 1 PM ET (7 PM CET) for 70+ new game reveals, exclusive trailers, and developer interviews from the makers of Ooblets, Paralives, We Are OFK, Moonglow Bay, and many more. pic.twitter.com/y6BMM0WCC7
— Wholesome Games (@_wholesomegames) June 8, 2021
As mentioned, we’ll update this story as more news comes out about Summer Game Fest and E3. Of course, we’ll also be covering the events live, so stay tuned to MobileSyrup for more.
Update: 03/06/2021 at 10:58am ET — Shortly after this story went live, the ESA revealed the full E3 schedule for publisher streams. However, specific details for each (namely, exact timing) have still not been revealed, so we’ll update this story again once we know more.
Update 2: 03/06/2021 at 12:36 pm ET — Updated with additional details on Ubisoft’s E3 event.
Update 3: 07/06/2021 at 2:36pm ET — Updated with additional details on Ubisoft and Warner Bros.’ E3 plans.
Update 4: 08/06/2021 at 11:12am ET — Updated with details on ‘Wholesome Direct,’ a separate indie-focused show that takes place the weekend of E3.
Update 5: 08/06/2021 at 1:01pm ET — Updated with the full E3 schedule with specific times.