Multiple sources, including Ars Technica and indie game publisher Devolver Digital, reported that this year’s Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles will be canceled entirely. An official announcement on the subject from E3’s organizers, the Entertainment Software Association, is reportedly set for Wednesday morning.
E3 2020 was scheduled to run from June 9-11 this year at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. It’s typically one of the major highlights in the video game industry’s year, with many companies saving big announcements and game debuts for the show.
This year’s show would’ve been E3’s 25th anniversary. Confirmed exhibitors included Bethesda, Epic, Capcom, Bandai Namco, Nintendo, and Microsoft. With two new consoles tentatively scheduled for release at the end of this year, thus starting the ninth generation of hardware, E3 2020 was expected to be a big event.
Nothing has been announced yet regarding the ESA’s reasons for the cancellation. There is an undated announcement on the E3 website concerning the COVID-19 virus, where the ESA claims to be “monitoring and evaluating the situation daily.” The cancellation would come in the wake of many other major summer events being postponed or cancelled, most recently the Coachella festival, so it could be as simple as that. Los Angeles is currently in a state of emergency, following California’s first COVID-19 death on March 3rd.
However, E3 has been notoriously troubled in the last couple of years. Last month, Geoff Keighley, producer of the E3 Coliseum stage show, announced that he wouldn’t be involved with this year’s E3. Earlier in March, E3’s creative director, the production company Iam8bit, had resigned from its role at E3, only five weeks after initially coming aboard.
Last year’s E3 drew a crowd of around 66,000 attendees, which was a substantial drop from the previous year. It also sustained a public relations nightmare when, two months after the show, the ESA accidentally “doxed” over 2,000 journalists, YouTubers, streamers, and other assorted creators who’d attended E3 with media credentials. (Full disclosure: I was one of them.)
E3 has also been gradually bleeding major attendees for years, as various companies opted out of the show or simply founded their own conventions, such as EA Play and BlizzCon. Sony had confirmed back in January that it wouldn’t attend E3 2020 at all, after also skipping E3 2019, and other major publishers such as Electronic Arts and Activision were also sitting the show out.
This also came hand in hand with the decision, starting in 2015, to gradually turn E3 into more of a convention, rather than a trade show. In its earlier days, E3 wasn’t open to the public at all. The ESA had promised earlier this year that E3 2020 would see an attempt to “reinvigorate the show and, frankly, to shake things up.”
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