Sony to skip E3 for second year running, despite PlayStation 5's imminent arrival

UPDATE: ESA promises "new experiences" instead.

UPDATE 14/1/20: E3 organiser the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has now responded to Sony's decision to skip the show during PlayStation 5's announcement year.

In a blog titled "ESA Statement on Sony E3 2020 Announcement" issued last night, the ESA made no mention of the hows or whys behind Sony's departure. Instead, it gave a vague description of "new experiences" and "activations" - things like new Monster Energy stands, presumably, left fill the gaping hole in E3's show floor evident last year when Sony bailed back then too.

Here is the ESA's statement in full:

"E3 is a signature event celebrating the video game industry and showcasing the people, brands and innovations redefining entertainment loved by billions of people around the world. E3 2020 will be an exciting, high-energy show featuring new experiences, partners, exhibitor spaces, activations, and programming that will entertain new and veteran attendees alike. Exhibitor interest in our new activations is gaining the attention of brands that view E3 as a key opportunity to connect with video game fans worldwide."

ORIGINAL STORY 13/1/20: Sony will not attend E3 2020, marking the second year in a row the platform holder has opted to skip gaming's biggest annual announcement show.

Last year, Sony stayed home to avoid showcasing the same late-PS4-era slate it had brought along the previous few years, but most expected it to return in 2020 when it had new hardware to reveal. And yet here we are: Sony will not be attending E3 for PlayStation 5's big year.

In a statement provided to GamesIndustry.biz, the company confirmed that "after thorough evaluation" it had decided not to participate in this year's show.

"We have great respect for the ESA as an organisation," it said, "but we do not feel the vision of E3 2020 is the right venue for what we are focused on this year." Instead, Sony will "build upon [its] global events strategy in 2020 by participating in hundreds of consumer events across the globe", although specifics aren't yet forthcoming.

On the surface, this leaves the stage clear for Microsoft to dominate E3 with its own big hardware announcements - although we already know some of the details.

But it also speaks to Sony's confidence in PlayStation 5 - that it can do its own thing regardless of E3 - and of the industry as a whole's increasing detachment from the show.

Some of gaming's biggest companies have already been doing their own thing for several years - even if just a little way from E3 itself. Xbox shows off its wares in LA's Microsoft Theatre just down the road, while EA parks itself up in Hollywood for EA Play.

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Tom Phillips

Tom Phillips

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