E3 2020, originally scheduled to take place June 9-11 in Los Angeles, joins Coachella and SXSW this week as part of a slew of large-scale media events canceled or postponed due to COVID-19. In a statement released by the ESA Wednesday, the conference cites the “unprecedented global situation” leading to their decision. It seems they will be reaching out to both exhibitors and attendees with information on full refunds, a bold move after SXSW refused to do the same.
“We are also exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020,” the ESA says. More info on that will come later via their press team.
This year’s E3 was already shaping to be a unique one, after Sony announced back in January that they would not be presenting at the conference. They instead claimed they would be focusing on their “global events strategy” in 2020. For some years now, Nintendo has opted to run their own Nintendo Direct during E3, rather than holding a press conference at the event, a strategy that has seen marked success as the Switch continues to surge in sales, which overtook the SNES over the holidays as Nintendo’s third best-selling console to date.
Microsoft, in turn, announced they would host their own Xbox digital event in lieu of their planned E3 presentation. Given the current race for the next generation of consoles between Microsoft and Sony, this is a key time that they can’t afford to let slip away. Ubisoft will be doing the same. We’ll see in the coming weeks if any other companies, such as Square-Enix and Bethesda, plan to follow suit.
This could represent a massive hit for E3, as the ESA has already faced several struggles this year. Last year, the ESA stoked widespread ire by leaking the personal information of over 2,000 journalists, while earlier this year Geoff Keighley stated he would no longer be hosting his annual E3 Coliseum show, a mainstay for years.