Hey, remember E3? It used to be the biggest annual event on the gaming calendar, before publishers (like Sony, specifically) started pulling out and hosting their own online showcases. And then the coronavirus pandemic hit and put an end to any kind of hope for a gathering of companies, press, and gamers in Los Angeles last year. In short, these are desperate times for the ESA — the organisation behind E3 — and it's clearly keen to get the ball rolling again this summer.
According to a detailed report by VGC, the ESA is pushing for an all-digital E3 2021. VGC writes: "The ESA’s intention is to hold multiple two-hour keynote sessions from games partners, an awards show, a June 14 preview night and other smaller streams from game publishers, influencers and media partners. The broadcast event would be supplemented by media previews the week before, as well as demos released on consumer platforms, according to the ESA’s proposal."
But in order for E3 to work, publishers need to be involved — and it doesn't sound like any of the industry's heavy hitters are sold on the ESA's plans. At the time of writing, we don't know if any publishers have signed up for E3 2021, and we doubt that companies such as Sony and EA — who pulled out of E3 in rather public fashion — will be at all eager to return.
Money's also a factor, of course. It's no secret that being a part of E3 is expensive — companies have to cough up considerable sums in order to join the ESA's roster. And in these uncertain times, it's likely that a lot of publishers would rather just do their own thing and budget it appropriately.
In any case, an ESA spokesperson told VGC: "We are having great conversations with publishers, developers and companies across the board, and we look forward to sharing details about their involvement soon." We'll have to see how it all pans out, but we wouldn't get your hopes up for anything huge.
Would you welcome the return of E3 later this year? Or should publishers just go their own way? Get ready for another summer of lacklustre digital events in the comments section below.