The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is reportedly planning a digital E3 event for 2021. Plans have yet to be fully-approved by members and requires backing from major game publishing companies. The massive, three-day-long games expo was forced to be cancelled last year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Exclusive: E3 is pushing forward with plans for a digital event in June, including three days of live streamed content and remote game demos. However, it still needs the backing of publishers.
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— VGC (@VGC_News) February 8, 2021
The news comes from a VGC report which talks about E3 2021 pitch documents sent to game publishers around the world. The paper outlines its proposals for this year’s event, which would see three days of live-streamed coverage, and would be held on the previously announced dates of 15-17 June. Further breakdown of the plan lists, “multiple two-hour keynote sessions from games partners, an awards show, a June 14 preview night and other smaller streams from game publishers, influencers and media partners.”
A week prior to the broadcast, there will be media previews (trailers and teasers), as well as playable demos released to the public. Media outlets should also be getting to test out bigger games, as the ESA will be allowing partner companies to remotely stream their demos with direct one-to-one interaction and assistance from the developers. Keep in mind that these plans have yet to be approved by ESA members, which comprises of some of the largest companies within the games industry.
Some of those large companies (Sony, EA, and Activision) had already abandoned the show long before the pandemic hit, in order to run their own digital events, as seen with last year’s Summer Game Fest. Speaking of which, industry titan, Geoff Keighley, who quit E3 last year due to disagreements over direction will not be involved again. And will be focussing on SGF 2021. This was confirmed via a private message exchange between VGC and Geoff himself.
Although there are no details on how many publishers have signed up for E3 2021 yet, the report does mention that a six-figure sum is required to join the program. Due to the fairly lumpsum amount, some major publishers have already begun backing out, and would rather run their own digital events. Or might collaborate with Geoff Keighley. Who knows? Either way, the ESA is insistent on the idea that a unified games event is the right way to go, as it “would grab the world’s attention more effectively than a series of smaller shows.” Which is true, to an extent. But with smaller, stretched-out events, there was always something to look forward to every week. It’s usually the community themselves that hype things up for no reason, only to be met with regret later down the line.
It is also worth mentioning that plans for a physical E3 event have not been officially cancelled yet. But it is highly unlikely to take place anyway, making the digital show the primary focus. Additional details in the ESA proposal talks about the schedule, which is set to run from 10 AM-10 PM EST, with regional replays scheduled for Europe, China and the Middle East. The timetable also looks similar to past E3 events, where there’s a 30-minute preshow, followed by a two-hour exclusive press conference, and then a Q&A session. The notes also boast of a “charitable after-party” stream.
Even E3 themselves confirmed their return on Twitter last night, by stating that they’ve been hard at work on this year’s event. Any further word on the matter and the publishers involved will be shared soon enough.