Yes, we’re a PlayStation site, but this big move by Microsoft could be writing on the wall for the video game industry as a whole in 2020. Through a series of tweets and clarifications, it looks like Microsoft won’t be holding any physical events for the rest of 2020, and possibly as far as into July 2021. The news began with a tweet from Ginny Caughey, who posted a screenshot of some Microsoft guidance that seemed to indicate all Microsoft events—internal and external—would be all-digital through July 2021.
It’s official: All Microsoft conferences will be digital-only through July 2021. pic.twitter.com/wTBb7Z6pQB
— Ginny Caughey (@gcaughey) April 6, 2020
A Microsoft spokesperson clarified the news with Eurogamer, saying “In light of the challenges presented by COVID-19, we are adjusting our event calendar and strategy. For the remainder of 2020 we are embracing the opportunity to experiment with new platforms to provide our partners, customers, and developers the highest quality, digital-first experiences.”
From the official statement from Microsoft, it looks like all physical events for the remainder of the year are out. And that’s even considering Microsoft still plans on a Holiday 2020 launch for the Xbox Series X, which seems to indicate that it won’t hold a launch event for the next-gen console.
Additionally, Eurogamer clarifies that this is only for events organized by Microsoft—the MVP Summit, XO19 (presumably would have been XO20 this year), the Series X launch, etc.—and that decisions about industry events will be made on a case-by-case basis. The organizers of gamescom, for example, are still planning to hold the European event in Germany in August, which Microsoft may still attend.
Importantly, this seems to hint at where Sony’s plans may be at for the rest of the year too. Sony was one of the first companies to start pulling event attendance in light of coronavirus, beginning with PAX East. While it was planning on holding “hundreds of consumer events” throughout the year in place of its E3 attendance (you know, before E3 got canceled), those plans definitely seem to be upended by the ongoing coronavirus crisis. If Sony follows Microsoft’s lead, there’s a good chance we could see both next-gen consoles release later this year without a big physical event for either of them.
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