During the 1990s, the ever-growing industry of videogames (later known as “electronic entertainment”) decided that they had had enough of being treated as a side attraction in general electronics trade shows like the CES. In 1995 the Interactive Digital Software Association (later the Entertainment Software Association) inaugurated a new dedicated videogame trade show in the US: the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Over the next two decades and through travails in the industry, E3 has held its events without fail yearly. It ended in 2020 when the rising threat of COVID-19 led to the ESA cancelling. While they hoped to resume as normal in 2021, the current situation forced another alteration.

IGN tells us that, contrary to the confident broadcast of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) following the cancellation of E3 2020, the next expo this year will not see much live presence but will instead become a digital streaming event. An ESA spokesperson confirmed that E3 2021 will take place in the customary month of June, but will be transformed by necessity. They have assured however that the participating videogame developers, publishers and companies are still on hand to help bring the global videogame community together, even if only virtually.

Apparently the possibility that this year’s E3 must be held digitally was revealed from the content of event pitches sent by the ESA to game publishers. The general gist is that from June 15 to 17, 2021 (including a June 14 preview night), the planned events range from keynote speeches from the partner game companies (2 hours each), a game awards show, and “smaller streams from publishers, influencers and media partners.” Another possibility that the ESA is giving partner companies is the remote streaming of playable game demos. This solidly emphasizes a digital face to E3 2021, although there has been no confirmation that no physical expo will happen either.

During the lead-in to the eventually cancelled E3 2020, some major game publishers and developers have announced their pulling out of the event last year, to focus on their own standalone and often digital presentations of upcoming games and hardware. In fact, during more recent E3s some companies have minimized their physical presences in the event, due to the increasing costs of exhibition space, with a number of major gaming giants like Sony leaving to do their own presentation events.

Image courtesy of The Verge