Though the pandemic forced the ESA to cancel E3 last year, the games trade show is making a return this year, and as with all things in the pandemic era, it’s going to be an all-online affair.
VGC is now reporting that the event’s organizer, The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), has started sending out pitch documents to game publishers inviting them to a digital showcase for this year. The trade association is pitching three days of live-streamed gaming content, an awards show, multiple keynotes, a preview night, and smaller streams from individual publishers and influencers.
The planned itinerary also includes pre-E3 briefings from major publishers, much like the Xbox, Sony, EA, and Ubisoft events that would take place before the physical event in a typical year.
The main draws of E3 are, of course, the media previews and the game demos. To that end, the ESA envisions using remote game streaming to allow members of the media, at least, to try out new games with the assistance of game developers. VGC reports that game studios have already been using similar technologies to allow the media to sample their upcoming wares in the absence of physical showcases.
“We can confirm that we are transforming the E3 experience for 2021 and will soon share exact details on how we’re bringing the global video game community together,” an ESA spokesperson told VGC this week. “We are having great conversations with publishers, developers and companies across the board, and we look forward to sharing details about their involvement soon.”
Despite the ESA’s best plans (and intentions), however, whether the digital event will see the same degree of success as past events remains to be seen. The trade show was struggling for relevance even before the pandemic hit, with Sony choosing to forego the event entirely back in 2019.
The cancellation of the event in 2020 allowed publishers like Microsoft, Sony, EA, and others to branch off and create their own curated, mostly-successful games showcases. Having had that experience, they may no longer wish to become beholden to the ESA again. And at least one “major games company” VGC talked to has already committed to holding “its own separate digital showcase, rather than paying the six-figure sums required to join E3 2021’s schedule.”