With the early year convention circuit being heavily disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, sights are beginning to turn to conventions and expos planned for later in the year. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) says that it is “moving ahead full speed” with plans for E3 2020, scheduled to take place in Los Angeles from June 9th-11th. The organizer is, however, “monitoring and evaluating the situation daily” as Los Angeles just declared a state of emergency because of the outbreak.
The Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2020 that was originally scheduled to take place later this month was canceled last week due to health concerns and a slew of exhibitors and attendees dropping out. At that time, the US had not yet seen a significant impact from coronavirus, however, since then a number of infections and deaths in the states have been confirmed.
As risk and concerns rise in the US, many are taking precautions to mitigate the spread of the disease. The ESA issued a statement regarding the state of emergency in Los Angeles:
The health and safety of our attendees, exhibitors, partners, and staff is our top priority. While the ESA continues to plan for a safe and successful E3 show June 9-11, 2020 — we are monitoring and evaluating the situation daily.
Our E3 team and partners continue to monitor COVID-19 via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). We are actively assessing the latest information and will continue to develop measures to further reduce health risks at the show.
At this point, three months out from the expo, it’s unknown how contained the coronavirus outbreak will be. The ESA seems confident that it can move forward with the show, though this is a big year that the organization needs to prove itself as many lose faith in the industry event. Sony has pulled out of the show for the second year in a row along with many other major exhibitors that no longer attend the event. Gaming’s very own cheerleader, Geoff Keighley, has specifically stated that he is “uncomfortable” with the vision for the show. And many attendees are still concerned about the lackadaisical and careless way a major private information breach was handled.
The ESA says that it has a big vision for the new show floor, but has failed to provide any specific details around what it plans to change or update, and how it will differ from previous years. Even if E3 itself moves forward, many exhibitors and attendees may decide not to attend over coronavirus concerns (depending on where containment of the outbreak is at that time), which could end up forcing the ESA’s hand.
Many are also concerned that the ongoing outbreak will impact the production and release of next-gen consoles this holiday. It’s unknown at this point if it will just result in a limited launch supply or if Sony and Microsoft will opt to delay the release of the PS5 and Xbox Series X altogether, pushing them into 2021.