E3 2021 Confirmed as an All-Digital Event, No On-Demand Demos, Sony is Once Again Absent

After a number of leaks last week regarding The ESA’s plans for E3 this year, the organizers have finally confirmed E3 2021 and started revealing the first official details about the event. E3 2021—rebranded as the “Electronic Entertainment Experience,” at least for this year—is happening June 12-15 as an all-digital event. This is the first official confirmation we’ve seen of the physical event being canceled, even though it was pretty much a foregone conclusion.

Confirmed exhibitors so far include Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Games, and Koch Media. Notably absent from that list are Sony, Activision Blizzard, Square Enix, EA, Bandai Namco, and more. While some of these publishers could end up being late sign ons, it’s unlikely that Sony will participate in E3 2021. The company first stepped away from E3 in 2019, and again announced its intentions not to participate in E3 2020 before the show was ultimately canceled.

Reports have also indicated that confirmed exhibitors may just be showing some support for The ESA and E3 while saving their biggest reveals and announcements for their own independent shows outside of E3 2021, rather than as part of the virtual event.

Previous reports had hinted that The ESA might be working on including on-demand demos as part of a paid premium experience, but those plans appear to have been scrapped. In a statement to VGC, who asked about the on-demand demos that were pitched to potential exhibitors, a spokesperson said, “We explored many possibilities with our partners, sponsors and industry participants in the creation of E3 2021. This year, we are focused on delivering multiple days of amazing programming that showcases the video game industry, with a new online portal and supporting app that will include tons of features such as customizable profiles, on-demand content, gamification, real-time activity feeds and more. We’ll build off of the success of 2021 and continue to look into new ways of showcasing the industry in 2022.”

The ESA’s announcement doesn’t dive into any additional details about what the “reimagined” show will include, other than broad hints at “live press conferences and a four day long video stream,” as well as apparent “gamification” of the event via the E3 app, but with just two months to go until E3 2021 kicks off, we can expect to hear more details soon.