E3 2020 Canceled due to Coronavirus Concerns

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E3 2020 Canceled due to Coronavirus Concerns

Is it sadness that you feel? Rage perhaps? Or maybe a slight sense of unease due to the impending doom of the worldwide Coronavirus panic … all three are valid my friend.

With a heavy heart, officials for the Electronics Expo, E3, announced today that the legendary gamer event won't be happening this year.

The ESA, (Entertainment Software Association), confirmed the news during their annual show. Known for the latest video game previews, scantily-clad promo-perfect gamer girls, and too many bright and shiny light effects to feasibly count, the decision to pull the plug on E3 2020 is official. The cancellation, of course, is happening due to the unending panic over the coronavirus, as well as the fear of getting the coronavirus.

Official Statement

E3 is a historic event in the gamer community, a usually week-long event that consumes Los Angeles and attracts attendees from all over the globe, so the health risks were substantial. In a statement, the ESA had this to say:

“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. It has also promised to contact attendees with information about providing full refunds.”

The decision isn't surprising. Countless video game and technology-related events, including Mobile World Congress (MWC), the Game Developers Conference (GDC), Google I/O, Facebook's F8 conference, SXSW and the Geneva Motor Show, have all been abandoned in the last few weeks.

The ESA expanded upon this in their latest press release:

“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.”

Similar to the GDC, the ESA is now in full-on “what the hell do we do now” mode. Rumors are swirling, with some saying that they are considering some kind of “online experience” to fill the E3-less void. However, if that fails to materialize, which it almost inevitably will, the industry will be left in a strange position. Ditching a favored convention with years of notoriety for a dime-a-dozen online experience? How could that feasibly work?

Moving Forward

A number of new consoles are launching this year — juggernauts such as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, but also… there are cooler, much more niche systems in the mix. Take for example the Atari VCS, Playdate and Analogue Pocket. Sony had already bowed out of the event, but other publishers including Bethesda, Ubisoft and EA would have likely announced titles for the PlayStation 5. Microsoft will be talking about the Xbox Series X and xCloud next week, but almost certainly had some surprises planned for its E3 press conference, too.

If the online experience doesn't happen, these companies have a few options. They could, for instance, press ahead and switch to alternative venues inside Los Angeles. A number of other companies, including EA and Devolver, have used offsite locations to unofficially extend E3's footprint. The more likely scenario, though, is that each company creates and hosts their own Nintendo Direct-style stream.

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Harrison Giza
Harrison is an esports commentator and gonzo video game journalist, focusing on esports and Call of Duty news for ESTNN. Current writer at Punchland and former contributing staff at Midnight Pulp, Bad Hat Harry, Montecito Picture Co. For inquiries or interviews: [email protected].