The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) will make history in 2020. This will be the first year since the very first E3 in 1995 that the annual video game trade show will not be held. E3 2020 was canceled in March, just four months before the show was set to take place, due to the coronavirus pandemic that forced all public gatherings to shut down to prevent further spread of the illness.
“Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation. We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this event for our fans and supporters. But we know it’s the right decision based on the information we have today,” E3 organizer, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), said in a statement in March.
E3 2020 was originally scheduled for June 9-11 and would have been held at the show’s usual venue, the Los Angeles Convention Center. The show will instead return in 2021.
Issues behind the scenes could have also led to the decision to cancel the event. In March, production company iam8bit, which had been hired to “reinvigorate” the E3 trade show as its new creative director, resigned from the event after just five weeks on the job, further calling into question whether the ESA would go through with the trade show.
There were big changes coming to this year’s show. E3 2020 would have been a “reimagined” version of the event that was said to “include new stage experiences, experiential zones, and live events” as well as feature “special guest gamers, celebrities, and digital programming on the show floor while connecting with global audiences through extended live streaming.”
Rumors sparked after an ESA presentation reportedly leaked online in late 2019 also suggested that E3 2020 would have had a bigger focus on influencers as well as “queuetainment,” which would allow companies to advertise to event-goers while standing in line for demos. This would have allegedly allowed the event to collect data on attendees as well.
These changes were met with pushback from at least one major game company. In January, Sony explained why it was skipping E3 2020 despite the impending launch of the PlayStation 5: “We have great respect for the ESA as an organization, but we do not feel the vision of E3 2020 is the right venue for what we are focused on this year.”
Additionally, Geoff Keighley, creator and host of The Game Awards as well as the host of the yearly E3 Coliseum live stream event, announced that he would not participate in E3 2020: “Given what has been communicated about E3 so far, I just don’t feel comfortable participating this year,” Keighley told THR.
Fortunately, fans hoping for video game news in June will still get that this year, thanks to IGN’s Summer of Gaming and Keighley’s Summer Game Fest, two series of digital gaming events that will fill the void left by E3 2020 cancelation. Major companies like 2K, Activision, Bandai Namco, Bethesda, Blizzard, Electronic Arts, PlayStation, Square Enix, Ubisoft, WB Games, and Xbox have partnered with these events to unveil their latest and greatest.