It seems that the inevitable has come to pass. After a turbulent year that saw the doxing of journalists, a falling out with business partners and other high profile departures, the widespread threat of coronavirus has finally done in the biggest show in video games. The ESA announced this morning that E3 2020 has officially been canceled, citing health concerns as the main culprit.
Rumors about the event's closure started up last night, with several journalists citing sources both inside and outside the ESA prepping the announcement. Indie publisher Devolver Digital also tweeted out a warning to E3 travelers, advising them to cancel their plans while they still could. As the night wore on, more and more significant industry voices echoed the news, and several outlets preemptively declared the show dead.
E3 2020 was expected to be the big reveal for the next generation of game consoles, with Microsoft rolling out a deep dive before the Winter 2020 launch of Xbox Series X. While not officially attending the show, Sony was also expected to fully unveil the PlayStation 5 at a satellite event at some point before the show. Both of these reveals will almost certainly still happen in the coming months, but the console manufacturers are now free to schedule them at their leisure rather than grouping around the industry gathering.
The ESA is looking at hosting a digital event with industry partners in June 2020, which if embraced could fill some of the same role that E3 did at least in announcing new game. Here is a copy of the ESA's full statement:
After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry – our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners – we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020, scheduled for June 9-11 in Los Angeles.
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.
Our team will be reaching out directly to exhibitors and attendees with information about providing full refunds.
We are also exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020. Updates will be shared on E3expo.com.
We thank everyone who shared their views on reimagining E3 this year. We look forward to bringing you E3 2021 as a reimagined event that brings fans, media and the industry together in a showcase that celebrates the global video game industry.
It's expected that the traditional press conferences will continue in a digital format, similar to Nintendo's annual Direct presentation. It's also expected that smaller publishers may have presentations of their own to make up for the loss of demo time with the press during the event. For many watching at home, the event will be similar, and perhaps grander with more video presentations. For industry professionals and others planning on attending the show, it's a harsh but necessary blow.