'There's a sense of an opportunity': developers react to E3 2020's cancellation

(Image credit: E3)

E3 2020 has been canceled, and while it comes as a massive blow to gamers around the world who tune in every year to watch the annual conferences, arguably the biggest blow has been to developers and publishers who were gearing up to announce their upcoming games and hardware.

Following the Entertainment Software Association's (ESA) official announcement of the cancelation, some publishers and developers have released official statements about the decision – while others have remained pretty tight-lipped.

Speaking to TechRadar about the show's cancellation, industry analyst Michael Pachter said: “It’s a tough decision, and clearly shifts the focus to individual company events and virtual press releases rather than the pizzazz of a live conference. I don’t think this is fatal for the event itself, and the cancellation probably allows the ESA time to reflect on what they can do differently or better for next year’s show”. 

But what do the developers think? TechRadar has reached out to many of the companies who intended to attend E3 2020 and, while some of refused to comment, we've collected together the official responses we've received for your perusal.


(Image credit: Rebellion)

Rebellion is one of many indie developers who attend E3 every year. The company has recently released Zombie Army 4: Dead War, but we were expecting to hear more about the likes of Sniper Elite VR during E3 2020. 

In a statement to TechRadar, Rebellion's CEO Jason Kingsley, said:

"As an ESA member and a studio who’s attended E3 every year, we’re obviously disappointed to see the show canceled, but fully support their decision and are grateful to have nearly three months’ notice to adapt our plans.

"I can’t speak for the biggest first and third parties who probably had huge complex plans in motion, let alone all those affected directly by the cancellation, whether its events staff, freelancers, marketing teams, dev teams, press and more. But as an independent, we know how crucial E3 can be for indies looking for that important window to get games in front of the world’s leading writers and creators.

"I hope that E3’s cancellation might actually foster more partnerships, between media, first parties, and developers. The model’s already there: just look at the way Nintendo Direct has helped bring indies to the forefront, how the VGAs have helped put new IP on the map, or when the Kinda Funny Showcase used its audience to step in last year.

"As for Rebellion, there’s a sense of an opportunity to stretch ourselves a little in new directions! We no longer have a hard date for our dev teams to work to. We’ve just invested in a new Twitch studio and we’ve already begun to put a real focus on growing our own channels and community, in particular on Discord and YouTube. It’s a little daunting, but exciting too, and as we’re independent, we can make changes quickly!

"Hopefully this time next year not only will E3 come back stronger, but devs, publishers and more have tried new things and learned some crucial lessons. Most importantly I’d like to wish everyone out there, health professionals and public alike, all the best."

Microsoft Xbox

(Image credit: 343 Industries)

Microsoft was set to have a big Xbox showing at E3 2020, likely revealing the Xbox Series X in all its glory – alongside its launch titles. However, Xbox boss Phil Spencer confirmed the company will now host a digital event in lieu of its annual E3 conference. 

In a statement to TechRadar, a Microsoft spokesperson had this to say:

"The health and safety of employees, fans and our partners around the world is a top priority. We support the ESA in its decision to cancel E3 following increased public concerns with the COVID-19 virus. 

"E3 has always been an important moment for us to show what’s ahead from Team Xbox. This year we’ll celebrate the next generation of gaming with the Xbox community and all who love to play around the world via a digital event.  We will share details on timing and more in the coming weeks."


(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Ubisoft has already stated that it's developing games for the PS5 and Xbox Series X, including Watch Dogs: Legion and Gods and Monsters. We were hoping to get a closer look at some of these titles that we know about, and maybe even the official announcement of a new Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Far Cry at E3 2020.

While we may not get the pizzazz of a live Ubisoft conference, we do know the company seems to be onboard with the ESA's plan to host an online experience in lieu of E3 this year. 

Here's Ubisoft's official statement:

"The health and well-being of our teams, players and partners is our top priority, so while we’re disappointed, we fully support the ESA’s decision to cancel E3 2020. E3 is and will continue to be a moment where we come together as a community and share our love of games. We’re exploring other options for a digital experience that will allow us to share all the exciting news we have planned."


(Image credit: Barone Firenze / Shutterstock.com)

Nintendo doesn't host a live conference at E3, instead opting for an online stream. So, apart from not being able to show on the convention floor, it's unlikely that the cancellation of the event has really thrown them that much. 

In fact, other developers and publishers will essentially be copying Nintendo's formula this year by hosting streams instead of a live conference.

So what does the House of Mario have to say about all this?

"Nintendo supports the ESA’s decision to cancel this year’s E3 to help protect the health and safety of everyone in our industry – our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners. We would like to express our concern and support for all those affected by the COVID-19 outbreak during this challenging time."

Bandai Namco

(Image credit: Tarsier Studios)

Bandai Namco has a few games up its sleeve for this year, primarily JRPGs and fighting titles, but the biggie that we were waiting to hear more about at E3 2020 was Elden Ring - the George R.R. Martin/FromSoftware title. 

It's not entirely clear if Bandai is going to take part in the ESA's online E3 stream, or share its announcements via other means, but we were excited to see what is speculated to be a strong next-gen lineup from the publisher.

Here's what Bandai Namco has said:

“Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. was poised to have one of its most exciting displays of upcoming games at E3 2020. While it’s unfortunate that E3 2020 has been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns; the health and safety of show attendees and event staff must take precedence over all else. We look forward to sharing news and updates pertaining to our upcoming title slate through different platforms with our media partners and fans.” 

Vic Hood
Associate Editor, TechRadar Gaming

Vic is TechRadar Gaming's Associate Editor. An award-winning games journalist, Vic brings experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table. You may have even heard her on the radio or speaking on a panel. Not only is Vic passionate about games, but she's also an avid mental health advocate who has appeared on both panels and podcasts to discuss mental health awareness. Make sure to follow her on Twitter for more.