Report says ESA focussing on three-day all-digital E3 event in 2021

But no indication if major publishers onboard.

Despite the ESA's best efforts to forge ahead with E3 2020 in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, last year's physical show was ultimately cancelled - and plans for an alternative online event, originally scheduled for June, were eventually abandoned in favour of a "reimagined" show this year. All's been a little quiet on the update front since then, but now the ESA has emerged to confirm its plans for an E3 in 2021 are still go.

Dates for E3 2021 have been earmarked since last April, and while a physical event still hasn't officially been ruled out, a report by VGC, based on pitch documents seen by the publication, suggests a digital event running 15-17th June is now the ESA's favoured approach in 2021.

According to VGC, the ESA is proposing an E3 2021 consisting of a preview night on 14th June, an award show, two-hour keynote sessions from games partners, and smaller streams from publishers, influencers and media partners. This would be supplemented by media previews for key titles one week earlier, scheduled meetings between developers and media featuring remotely streamed playable demos, plus consumer demos across all platforms.

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In a statement provided to VGC in response to its report, the ESA insisted it was having "great conversations" with publishers, developers and companies about "transforming the E3 experience for 2021", with "exact details" promised soon.

However, it's currently unclear how many publishers have expressed an interest in adopting the ESA's proposed digital E3 (which has yet to be voted on by members), particularly given that a significant number of companies - including Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Square, and Ubisoft - all successfully ran their own digital events following E3's cancellation last year.

Indeed, VGC cites at least one major publisher as indicating it will hold its own show again in 2021, rather than pay the ESA to be involved in a digital E3. Additionally, Geoff Keighley, who quit E3 and subsequently launched his Summer Game Fest series of digital announcements and reveals in 2020, has told VGC that he plans for the showcase to return this year.

Following VGC's report, the ESA posted an additional (and inexplicably Metal-Gear-Solid-themed) statement to Twitter, confirming, "We've been hard at work on this year's event and we can't wait to provide the full picture of the E3 2021 experience." Interested parties are advised to "Keep an eye here for more big news from us soon!".

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Matt Wales

Matt Wales


Matt Wales is a freelance writer and gambolling summer child who won't even pretend to live a busily impressive life of dynamic go-getting for the purposes of this bio. He is the sole and founding member of the Birdo for President of Everything Society.


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