Following reports released a few weeks ago that E3 2021 would be taking the digital route, there’s now official confirmation that a live event has zero chance of happening at all. This news comes following a document, obtained by the Video Games Chronicle, surfacing from Los Angeles City that confirms that the event’s physical plans have been canceled.

The cancellation of E3 2021 comes on the heels of the similarly bypassed E3 2020 which had to shudder its operations unexpectedly a few months out from the event due to the, at the time, new outbreak of COVID-19 and subsequent travel restrictions. That cancellation came a few weeks after companies had announced their intentions to go, Nintendo included. Moving into this year, the expectations for a live event were already minimal if any, seeing that the pandemic has not yet subsided.

The ESA, the organization behind E3, has not yet released a concrete plan for the new digital-only format of E3 2021. So, as of now, we’re not quite sure how that will play out, if it does. E3 2021 was supposed to take place during mid-June as it usually does, but as of now, no official date for the new format has been revealed. The ESA tried to scramble together a digital event to replace the live version of E3 2020, but that plan also fell through the floor.

E3 = Empty

As you may remember, summer 2020 proved to be quite the oddball for the games industry following the cancellation of E3 2020 and a lot of other game expos.

Some were able to rebound like Gamescom and The Video Game Awards, but with E3 being the tentpole event for the vast majority of major announcements, the industry was left wandering about dazed and disoriented for a few months. What ultimately ended up happening is a lot of individual publishers having Nintendo Direct-esque events of their own and/or participating in IGN’s Summer of Gaming digital event, as well as other digital events.

Digital events were all the rage last year.

This quick-fix of a solution led to announcements being scattered about basically throughout the entire summer, rather than being concentrated to a single week in June as has been the case for nearly three decades. This change of circumstances was met with curious satisfaction by some, and disappointment and frustration by others.

On one hand, not having E3 allowed companies to basically go whenever they pleased, resulting in a less congested news cycle. But, on the other hand, some gamers argue that many announcements slipped through the cracks and were totally missed by some folks due to that same decongestion.

From a reporter’s perspective, I will say that covering news last year was easier in terms of not having huge loads at once. But, it was even a little confusing on this end as well (speaking for myself) as there are entire games that I didn’t know existed until months after their initial reveal.

All things considered, is it time for E3 to come back?

Can it rise again?

That’s hard to say. On one hand, the gaming news was still delivered last year despite the lack of E3. And, even more shamefully for the ESA, three new next-gen systems were also revealed and launched without ever touching the event (and not to mention Nintendo did the same thing with the Switch in 2016-2017).

Nintendo Switch PlayStation 5 Xbox Series X | S Xbox Series S boring, diminishing returns of next-gen consoles next-generation visual fidelity

With so much being accomplished last year despite the industry’s central news hub collapsing, many have argued that E3 might not even be worth it moving forward. Some companies already seem to think that way as big players like Sony had already announced their intention to skip out on the event before the pandemic began. Admittedly, other companies like Nintendo and Microsoft have stood by the event despite the exodus by their contemporaries.

We’ll have to wait and see exactly what the industry does this year as it relates to its support of E3. But, for now, it really does seem like anything is possible.

A.K Rahming
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.

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