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E3 2021 Reportedly Going All Digital In June, More Details Coming Soon

The ESA is said to be pushing ahead with plans for a radically redesigned expo, this time all taking place remotely.


E3 might be going fully digital this year, according to new reports. The ESA, which organizes the massive game industry event every year, is reportedly planning a big three-day virtual event for E3 2021, with streamed game demos, panel showcases, keynote events, and more, all happening online. None of this is confirmed or concrete at this stage, but it appears there are major changes afoot for the 2021 edition of the show.

The pitch for the show has been sent out to numerous publishers, with VGC obtaining a copy containing all the details. The event will take place between June 15-17 (which was confirmed after the show was cancelled in 2020) and be streamed live from 10 AM - 10 PM PST, with replays running outside of those hours for other regions. The ESA also makes mention of some "charity" events that will take place outside of the main exhibition hours.

The plan for each day involves multiple two-hour keynote sessions focused on specific games or publishers, with the potential for Q&A sessions after each. The ESA also makes mention of a June 14 preview night, additional streams for smaller games, and showcases from a range of publishers, influencers, and media.

E3 2021 will also reportedly give media access to games the week before the event, with the expo supplemented by previews that release in conjunction with the keynotes. There's also the potential for demos and public access to games via consumer platforms (like the Summer Game Fest demos on Steam last year).

Long-time E3 collaborator Geoff Keighley quit working on E3 2020 after creative differences over its direction (with the show eventually being cancelled), and VGC reports that he will not be back in 2021. Instead, Keighley will reportedly continue working on another iteration of the Summer Game Fest for 2021.

Publishers will need to buy into this new direction from the ESA, which might be the show's biggest hurdle. VGC reports that at least one major games company mentioned that the ESA is seeking a six-figure sum to be included in E3 2021's programming. The ESA has also not ruled out the possibility of a physical event this year either but is said to be squarely focused on the virtual event considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The ESA consists of members from around the industry, with most of the biggest publishers in the business still involved. These include the likes of Microsoft, PlayStation, Epic Games, Activision Blizzard, EA, and more. Some were already staging their own events during E3, however, with Microsoft hosting its own event at the Microsoft Theatre in LA, EA hosting EA Play in Hollywood, and Sony skipping the event entirely in 2019.

The ESA confirmed that it is pursuing a digital event in 2021 in a statement to GameSpot, stating that more details will be revealed soon.

"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," the statement reads. "We are having great conversations with publishers, developers and companies across the board, and we look forward to sharing details about their involvement soon."

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