Is E3 2021 Happening This Year?

After 2020's event was canceled, here's what to expect this year.


Summer will be here before you know it, and with the arrival of warmer weather and longer days, you might be wondering about E3 2021. The show was canceled in 2020 due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic and questions remains about this year's event.

We've compiled a rundown of the latest updates on this year's show.

Is There An E3 This Year?

The short answer is that we don't know for sure at this point. The ESA, which organizes E3 every year, penciled in E3 2021 for June 15-17 but what format this year's event takes--if it happens at all--remains to be seen.

The signs are pointing to a digital showcase this year, as the local government of Los Angeles recently announced that the "live" portion of E3 2021 would not go forward.

What Might E3 2021 Look Like?

A pitch deck for E3 2021 leaked, and it mentioned an all-digital event featuring streamed game demos, panel showcases, keynote events, and more, all of which would take place online. The proposal that is reportedly being sent to publishers said the three-day event will feature programming from 10 AM to 10 PM PST each day, with replays available for those who can't or don't want to watch live. The programming would include multiple two-hour keynote sessions focused on specific games or publishers, with the potential for Q&A sessions after each.

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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. Some form of a charity drive would be included in the E3 2021 programming schedule, too.

Publishers will need to buy into this new direction from the ESA, which might be the show's biggest hurdle. 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 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."

E3 Has Been Transformed In Recent Years

Even before the pandemic pushed E3 2020 to cancel, the show was undergoing major changes. Sony pulled out of E3 2019 completely, while Microsoft moved its own showcase to a nearby theater that year, opting to only showcase Mixer--which is now shuttered--on the floor.

Before that, Electronic Arts ditched E3 too by hosting its own event, EA Play, away from the Los Angeles Convention Center. On top of that, Geoff Keighley parted ways with E3 to instead host his own announcement series, the Summer Games Fest.

Even if E3 2021 does go forward as a digital event this year, it might not be the only show in town. A recent report said Microsoft and Bethesda, which it now owns, are planning their own distinct events for this summer around the time of E3. Whether or not they are part of E3's new digital format or their own separate events remains to be seen, however. There is also the possibility that, like in 2020, publishers will host their own showcases on their own time throughout the year instead of all at once during one week in June.

We should know more about E3 2021 in the coming weeks and months, so keep checking back with GameSpot for the latest.

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