After reports began swirling last night that E3 2020 was canceled, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) made it official this morning. The organizers cite the same health and safety concerns surrounding the growing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that has caused countless other event, expo, and conference cancellations.
The E3 team is devastated to share this news. This decision was not reached lightly, but it is the right one for the health and safety of all involved. Read our statement here: https://t.co/1uOWxTerN9 pic.twitter.com/gD2IxNACLX
— E3 (@E3) March 11, 2020
The ESA issued a brief statement about E3 2020’s cancellation:
After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry – our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners – we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020, scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles.
Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation. We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event for our fans and supporters. But we know it’s the right decision based on the information we have today.
We are also exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020.
Our team will be reaching out directly to exhibitors and attendees with information about providing full refunds.
We thank everyone who shared their views on reimagining E3 this year. We look forward to bringing you E3 2021 as a reimagined event that brings fans, media and the industry together in a showcase that celebrates the global video game industry
The ESA wants to look at options for moving this year’s E3 to an online experience, similar to the Game Developers Conference streaming series that was recently announced. Holding a stream-only show would allow publishers and developers who had plans to announce and show things at E3 the opportunity to still follow through with that plan, but the ESA has yet to outline just how a streaming E3 would work.
The cancellation follows a tumultuous road to E3 2020, starting with a security breach that leaked thousands of attendees’ private information last year, Sony dropping out of the show for the second year in a row, and multiple notable names pulling participation—including Geoff Keighley and former creative directors iam8bit.
E3 2021 is apparently still on the books though, and the cancellation of E3 2020 gives the ESA plenty of time to attempt to reinvigorate the event for next year and find ways to bring back exhibitors and attendees that have expressed discomfort with the show’s recent direction. While the COVID-19 outbreak probably won’t be a factor in June 2021, many believe that not having E3 this year will cause E3 2021 to have even fewer participants as more publishers and developers realize they don’t need E3. Particularly in a year leading to next-gen consoles, everyone will be watching to see how the lack of the 25-year industry trade show impacts game sales and marketing plans.