UPDATE: The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has now confirmed that E3 2020 is cancelled. Its statement is at the end of this article. The original article continues below.
The coronavirus outbreak continues to throw planned events into chaos, and it seems this year’s E3 may be next.
According to tech site ArsTechnica, multiple sources familiar with the organization responsible for E3, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), suggest it will soon cancel the three-day event, citing COVID-19 as a cause. It’s a rumor that has been building in recent weeks, as events around the world have faced disruption from the virus’s spread, but it now appears to have come true.
There’s no comment yet from the ESA, but it did update advice on the E3 show regarding the spread of COVID-19 earlier this month. That update noted that the ESA “continues to plan for a safe and successful E3 show”, and is evaluating the situation daily.
Although yet to be officially confirmed, some developers are reacting on social media as if the decision is rubber-stamped. Devolver Digital, an attendee for the last three E3s, tweeted the following, ahead of this morning’s reports:
Cancel your E3 flights and hotels, y’all.
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) March 11, 2020
E3 2020 was already troubled. Set to take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 9-11, the show was having to deal with Sony’s absence. Sony had already skipped out on 2019’s E3, but missing 2020’s event was a more substantial blow. E3 could have expected a lot of interest from the debuting PlayStation 5, which it would miss out on with the brand’s absence.
It’s no secret that E3 hasn’t been in the best shape over the past several years. Several major video game publishers have bowed out to host their own events alongside it. If, like the Geneva Motor Show’s cancellation earlier in the month, exhibitors see value in digital-only presentations, it could be the death knell for the show.
The event’s cancellation might also put a spanner in the works of Microsoft’s plans. Sony’s absence — and the PlayStation 5’s invisibility to date — meant that the Xbox Series X would have been the star of the show, and a first opportunity for many to see the console in the flesh.
With that no longer being the case, and coronavirus also looking to cause supply chain and manufacture issues along with shuttering large gatherings, the 2020 console launch schedule is very much up in the air.
We’ll bring you more information on this as and when it occurs. E3 is expected to make an announcement on its 2020 show at 0930 PDT (1630 UTC).
Updated: The ESA has now confirmed the cancellation of E3 2020 with the following statement:
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.
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.
Our team will be reaching out directly to exhibitors and attendees with information about providing full refunds.
We are also exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020. Updates will be shared on E3expo.com.
We thank everyone who shared their views on reimagining E3 this year. We look forward to bringing you E3 2021 as a reimagined event that brings fans, media and the industry together in a showcase that celebrates the global video game industry.