E3 2021 might take shape as a digital-only event this summer, according to a report from VGC. Entertainment Software Association (ESA) event organizers have been pushing for an online version of the show after concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic led to the eventual cancellation of E3 2020. ESA documentation sent to game publishers reportedly outlines plans to hold three days of live-streamed events from June 15-17 this year.
These proposed E3 2021 plans would see the ESA holding a June 14 preview night, multiple two-hour keynote sessions, and an awards show, as well as other events from different influencers, publishers, and media partners. The plans further include media previews that would arrive earlier in June, with demos also planned to come to players at home.
The above plans are not concrete, though, as VGC states that “the E3 2021 plans still require the approval of ESA’s membership, which is made up of the industry’s biggest games companies and who have significant influence over the direction of the show.”
With companies like EA and Ubisoft having already established past digital replacement events in the wake of the pandemic, it is uncertain which publishers have opted in to E3 2021. Meanwhile, VGC notably reports that it spoke with one publisher that will continue with its own digital events, “rather than paying the six-figure sums required to join E3 2021’s schedule.” Geoff Keighley, who had been involved with E3 before leaving last year over disagreements with the show’s direction, says that he will refrain from working with the ESA again this year as well.
The ESA provided a statement regarding its plans:
We can confirm that we are transforming the E3 experience for 2021 and will soon share exact details on how we’re bringing the global video game community together. We are having great conversations with publishers, developers and companies across the board, and we look forward to sharing details about their involvement soon.
The ESA has not officially dismissed the possibility of an E3 2021 physical event yet, but digital is reportedly the focus going forward.