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E3 2021 Will Be All Virtual, Coming In June

The ESA has announced its plans for a "reimagined, all-virtual" showcase this June.


Following its tease last week, the Entertainment Software Association has now officially announced plans for what it’s calling a "reimagined" and "all-virtual" E3 2021, which is set to take place June 12-15, 2021. A number of the biggest names in gaming have already signed up to support the show in some capacity, including Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, Take-Two, Warner Bros., and Koch Media. The ESA said more companies will join later. It remains to be seen, however, if PlayStation and EA will join the ranks; they haven’t attended E3 in an official capacity in years.

When Is E3 2021?

E3 2021 will take place June 12-15, and it will be completely digital. The ESA's earlier statement left some wiggle room for there to be a physical component, but the organization is now saying it will be a completely digital show. GameSpot will be one of E3's official media partners, streaming all of the happenings.

What's Different For E3 2021?

First and foremost, E3 2021 is a completely digital show, so there is no physical aspect to it that fans can attend in person. The event was, for a long time, only open to developers, press, and other credentialed members of the industry. In recent, pre-pandemic years, the event opened to the public, marking a big change for the annual event. In 2021, E3 is trying to reach even more people than ever with its digital format.

The ESA said developers will showcase the "latest news and games directly to fans around the world" in the new digital format. The ESA added that it will work with media partners to broadcast the show, which will be available to everyone for free. That is an important line in part because one report claimed the ESA was considering charging for some elements of the show. Still, it remains to be seen what level of advertising and promotional partnerships might exist for E3 2021.

ESA president and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis said E3 2021 will continue to be a significant, newsworthy event, even despite the new all-digital format.

"For more than two decades, E3 has been the premier venue to showcase the best that the video game industry has to offer, while uniting the world through games," he said. "We are evolving this year's E3 into a more inclusive event, but will still look to excite the fans with major reveals and insider opportunities that make this event the indispensable center stage for video games."

The ESA said E3 2021’s new digital structure will allow "more people than ever" to participate. The group acknowledged that E3 is more than a place for big announcements; it’s historically been a forum through which people in the industry form connections and partnerships. This will be maintained in some capacity, the ESA said, though no further details are available.

Unanswered Questions

Despite E3 2021 only being about three months off, the ESA's announcement was light on details regarding the specific format and structure of the show. We don’t know anything yet about how the event will actually play out, or what the daily programming will look like.

E3 2021 also won't be the only show in town this summer, as games media veteran Geoff Keighley is hosting his own Summer Game Fest, also in June, while other publishers may hold their own individual briefings over the coming months in the lead up to the holidays. Here at GameSpot, we’re bringing back our Play For All event. This will cover the big gaming events this summer along with our own live show--more details to come soon!

E3 2022 Will Be A Physical Show Again

It is still early days, but the ESA said it plans to hold E3 2022 as an in-person event next year. The group said nothing more about next year’s event, so we'll have to wait to learn more.

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