Just a few days ago, the Entertainment Software Association (the team behind E3) said that it would be monitoring the situation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. Even so, at the time, plans surrounding E3 had not yet changed and the show was still scheduled to go forth. Fast-forward to right now, however, and it seems that those plans have shifted.
Multiple sources are now publically reporting that E3 2020 has been canceled. Namely, fairly big persons in the gaming industry have taken to Twitter to ring the warning bells:
Devolver Digital put it bluntly in their tweet about the matter…
Cancel your E3 flights and hotels, y’all.
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) March 11, 2020
Kotaku’s Jason Schreier also chimed in, responding to Devolver’s tweet with his own statement. He claims that he’s been “hearing secondhand whispers” about the matter, and that “the ESA hasn’t officially made a decision yet.” However, “it’s only a matter of time.”
Been hearing secondhand whispers tonight from several devs/pubs that E3 is cancelled, although I've also heard from a couple of people in positions to know that the ESA hasn't officially made a decision yet and is still consulting with pubs. Either way, it's only a matter of time https://t.co/Od0MDj3ZXv
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) March 11, 2020
Industry personnel Mike Futter posted a tweet independent from the DD thread, saying similar things to Schrier that he’s heard from multiple sources that E3 has indeed already been cancelled and that an official announcement will be made soon:
My day started with investigating some E3 stuff. Ended with multiple (and I mean MULTIPLE) sources coming my way.
E3 cancelation announcement scheduled for tmw AM. I don’t think it will hold the night. Many of us have been engaged by sources this evening.
Cancel your plans.
— Mike Futter (@Futterish) March 11, 2020
The end of an era
Even before the situation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak began to become exceptionally major, the future surrounding E3 was very questionable. Doubt started to be cast when Sony announced for the second year in a row that it would not be attending the event.
Secondly, industry veteran Geoff Keighly also announced that he would not be attending this year; the first time he’d ever be missing the show. In Keighly’s case, he mentioned that he wasn’t happy with certain things that were going on behind the scenes. Of course, he never divulged what those things were, but clearly the connotation wasn’t positive.
Both of these situations, now in combination with the outright cancellation of the show, have once again stirred up discussion as to whether or not E3 is even worth having anymore. At this point in time, exact plans for how the presentations from each publisher and company will be handled have yet to be revealed. But, the idea continues to be thrown around that the entirety of E3 should be digital-only this year, similar to that of the Nintendo Direct format which the company has been using for the past half-decade. Should E3 actually end up being held in this way, perhaps this really could mean the end of the show as we’ve come to know it over the past two decades.