E3 2020 has officially been cancelled, the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) has confirmed.
While there have been rumors that the gaming expo would not go ahead this year, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has now released an official statement (opens in new tab) confirming that E3 2020 has been cancelled due to coronavirus concerns.
"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," the ESA said in its statement.
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"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."
The city of Los Angeles, where E3 2020 is held every year, has declared a state of emergency around the coronavirus outbreak (via LA Times (opens in new tab)). E3 2020 was due to run from June 9 to June 11 at the Los Angeles Convention Center (E3’s home since 2009). This is the first time since the show will not go ahead since it began in 1995.
Not a huge surprise
E3's cancellation doesn't come as a huge surprise. Ars Technica (opens in new tab) previously reported that the expo was almost certainly cancelled, writing that "multiple sources familiar with the Entertainment Software Association (ESA)'s plans have confirmed to Ars Technica that the organization, which is responsible for the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), will soon cancel the three-day expo."
Independently of this, the publisher Devolver Digital (Hotline Miami, Katana Zero) tweeted that it was time to cancel travel and accommodation for the expo – lending the cancellation further credence.
In addition, E3 2020 was plagued with behind-the-scenes disagreements, high-profile dropouts and a domino effect of other technology and gaming conferences being cancelled in response to the COVID-19 virus.
Why it's a big deal
E3 is the biggest show in the gaming calendar, with the likes of Microsoft, Nintendo and a wealth of developers and publishers announcing (and often showcasing) their upcoming hardware and games at the conference.
And this year was set to be bigger than ever. With the PS5 and Xbox Series X due to release in late 2020, we were expecting a heap of next-gen games to be announced for the new consoles – as well as a closer look at Microsoft's Xbox Series X. However, Sony had already confirmed it wouldn't be attending E3 this year.
Companies including Microsoft, Nintendo, Warner Bros, Bethesda, Sega and Ubisoft were confirmed to be attending E3 2020.
We are expecting individual updates from each company to roll out over the next few days. Xbox boss Phil Spencer has already confirmed Microsoft will host its own "Xbox digital event" in lieu of E3, with a time and dates to be announced in the coming weeks.
E3 has always been an important moment for Team Xbox. Given this decision, this year we'll celebrate the next generation of gaming with the @Xbox community and all who love to play via an Xbox digital event. Details on timing and more in the coming weeks https://t.co/xckMKBPf9hMarch 11, 2020
The ESA has said it will be contacting exhibitors and attendees with information about "full refunds".
With the E3 2020 conference cancelled, the ESA is looking into taking the show online to allow publishers and developers to still make their announcements.
"We are also exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020," the ESA said in its statement.
This means we could see the ESA taking the same approach as the organizers of GDC. GDC was "postponed" over coronavirus concerns, however the organizers are due to host panels and award streams on Twitch next week in lieu of the event.
With streams like Nintendo Direct and PlayStation's State of Play becoming more commonplace, this wouldn't be a surprising alternative (even if it's bit less exciting).
Hopefully it's not long until we hear about the ESA's potential online plans, or Microsoft's for that matter, but the cancellation of gaming's biggest show is likely to throw a spanner in the works for many.
- E3 2020: gaming's biggest show is officially cancelled