Earlier this year, reports indicated that E3 2021 would once again forgo a physical event for a digital one due to the ongoing effects of the global pandemic, though the exact form it would take was not confirmed. But a new a report suggests some content might be locked behind a paywall.
The report from VGC alleges there are plans for some kind of paid access pass including premium content, such as access to game demos. These plans were not solidified yet, according to VGC's sources.
Reaching out for comment, a spokesperson for the ESA told VGC that "We’ve been hard at work to deliver a free experience for everyone interested in E3 2021, and we’re excited to share further details soon.”
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The official E3 Twitter account went further by directly rebutting the news, saying the show would be 'free for all attendees,' though it notably didn't reject the notion of a paywall outright.
E3’s 2021 digital show is a free event for all attendees. We’re excited to fill you in on all the real news for the event very soon. https://t.co/HzTzaQEosxApril 1, 2021
This confirms that the event as a whole will be free, it's important to note that it doesn't rule out the possibility of paid sections or extras in line with VGC's report.
The VGC report further states that many publishers are expecting to offer something to this E3 2021 event but that the bigger reveals would be held for separate, independent showcases. There are other changes, too, like rebranding E3 2021 as the "Electronic Entertainment Experience."
Refuting the paywall — but not entirely
Shortly after VGC's report went live, Geoff Keighley, host of the Game Awards, Opening Night Live at Gamescom and Summer Game Fest, chimed in with a simple message on Twitter:
Free To Play #SummerGameFestApril 1, 2021
The official E3 Twitter account's statement, meanwhile, simply stated that E3 2021 would be free to access, with a curt assertion that "we’re excited to fill you in on all the real news for the event very soon."
While it's a relief that the ESA aren't planning to charge admission for everything in the digital event, we won't know what their plans are for a potential paid tier until they finally share 'real news' with fans and media who will be tuning in.
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