Last month we heard that, rather unsurprisingly, this year's E3 will be an online-only event due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. We now have an idea of how that's going to work in practice, as the ESA has announced an online portal and app for E3 2021.
In a press release, the ESA described the online portal and app as "a key hub for the duration of the show". It will feature hosted events, virtual booths, online forums, video conferencing, and even profile and avatar creation. The exhibitor booths will have special events along with VOD content and articles, and will act as "hubs within the portal for key announcements and game information tied to each exhibitor". It gets weirder from here - the app will also have lounges, described as "gathering spots for all E3 attendees," along with leaderboards. The leaderboards are apparently "gamified show elements that can be collected and displayed, encouraging fans to interact in as many ways as possible". Learning about games is a game now, I suppose.
The portal and app will also show the E3 live broadcast, complete with interactive overlays featuring viewer polls and tweets. That makes a change from watching thousands of people demand Elden Ring in Twitch chat - although it's worth noting the broadcast will still air on the usual range of platforms, including E3's YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch.
As for the content of the broadcast, you can expect "major publisher showcases, press conferences, industry panels, extended livestreams and special guest appearances", with Alex "Goldenboy" Mendez, Jacki Jing and Greg Miller as hosts.
"From the moment we decided to host E3 virtually, we've been focused on providing an interactive experience for fans around the globe that goes beyond the typical livestream, said ESA president and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis. "The result is a bespoke online portal and app that will allow fans, media and industry professionals to have an E3 experience designed to run parallel to the four-day broadcast, laying the foundation for interactive E3 elements to continue beyond this year's all-virtual show."
Media will be given access to the portal a little early, starting on 7th June, with public access beginning on 12th June and running until the end of the show on the 15th. The ESA said that "registration for access to the online E3 portal will be free," and sign-ups will open later this month. Hopefully the ESA won't leak everyone's details to the internet this time.
E3 2021 already has a fairly decent line-up of publishers attending the show, including Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Games and Koch Media. Some publishers have decided to go rogue, however: Konami pulled out of the line-up, EA is hosting its own EA Play event again but now in an entirely separate month, and Sony is (once again) absent from the list. Still, there are enough publishers attending to give us some interesting updates - and I'm feeling pretty ready for some big announcements.