E3 2021 Will Be An All-Digital Event

Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, announces original Xbox Backward Compatibility at the Xbox E3 2017 Briefing on Sunday, June 11, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Image courtesy of Xbox)

Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, announces original Xbox Backward Compatibility at the Xbox E3 2017 Briefing on Sunday, June 11, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Image courtesy of Xbox)

After the full cancellation of E3 2020, no one was certain what the Electronics Software Association (ESA) would choose to do about the impending E3 2021 since the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much a concern. Since Los Angeles is still banning large public gatherings, the ESA has formally chosen to make the E3 2021 event all-digital.

Fan fans were surprised that the “electronic expo” didn’t choose to make their expo electronic in 2020. Several insiders, however, say that the ESA put all its efforts into making E3 2020 an in-person event that when it became apparent that wouldn’t be possible, there wasn’t enough time to prepare and schedule a digital event.

Companies like Sony have intentionally distanced themselves from E3 saying before the COVID-19 pandemic that they would not be presenting, nor participating in E3 2020. Sony, similar to Nintendo, is choosing to focus on in-house developed and published videos to showcase new games and hardware.

Regarding 2021, the ESA plans to hold three days of live-streamed coverage from June 15 to June 17. It is scheduling two-hour blocks for companies and game partners and opportunities for smaller studios to stream their games remotely. The ESA also plans to host a Game Awards-esque show.

The ESA’s plans were sent to large partner companies like Microsoft for approval yesterday. “We can confirm that we are transforming the E3 experience for 2021 and will soon share exact details on how we’re bringing the global video game community together,” the ESA said in their letter to partners. “We are having great conversations with publishers, developers and companies across the board, and we look forward to sharing details about their involvement soon.”

There is now very little separating E3 from what companies like Nintendo have been doing for several years. The ESA charges fees anywhere in the range from $100,000 to high six-figures for showcase spots in their physical events. While Nintendo has consistently submitted a “Nintendo Direct” video to every E3 in recent years, they still paid a substantial fee in order to be featured. Sony, which formally opted out of the expo, will likely present a similar video to what they would at a digital E3 – without paying up.

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