- E3 2020 is reportedly being canceled amid fears of the coronavirus outbreak, putting Microsoft’s Xbox Series X first major public showcase in limbo.
- Several major tech and gaming conferences have already been canceled, including MWC and GDC.
- The ESA is said to be “exploring options for an online E3 event this summer” where the PS5 and Xbox Series X will likely be featured prominently.
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UPDATE | 3/11 at 11:36 AM: “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,” the ESA said in a statement, adding that it will be “exploring options with our members to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020.”
In addition to being a serious public health and safety hazard, the coronavirus outbreak is taking its toll on the gaming industry. When GDC 2020 was officially canceled in February, all eyes turned to E3, where Microsoft was expected to divulge its next-gen plans and the launch lineup for the Xbox Series X. Even though Sony had pulled out of the event, the week of June 7th was going to be an exciting one for the industry. But on Tuesday night, a multitude of reports made it clear that the biggest video game event of the year would no longer be happening.
Following the trickle of tweets from video game reporters and industry professionals on Tuesday evening, Bloomberg made the cancellation all but official with a sourced report of its own. According to a person familiar with the matter, the Electronic Software Association, which organizes the annual show, will announce the cancellation at 9:30 AM PT / 12:30 PM ET on Wednesday. The ESA reportedly wrote a memo to partners in order to let them know that the group is “exploring options for an online E3 event this summer” to take the place of the exposition.
As Bloomberg notes, the first report of the show’s demise came from Ars Technica, which stated that the ESA’s original announcement was meant to come on Tuesday, but ended up slipping. Not long before Ars Technica received its first tip about the show being canceled, the publisher Devolver Digital tweeted the following:
Cancel your E3 flights and hotels, y’all.
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) March 11, 2020
Some have already begun declaring that this is the end of E3. Not only has Sony bowed out two years in a row, but EA has begun holding its own separate event outside of the Los Angeles Convention Center, Nintendo stopped doing press conferences years ago, and other major publishers and developers have been pulling out as well. Having been to the show floor several times, I can tell you that it is quite an adventure as a member of the press, and seemingly impossible to see everything you want to see as a normal attendee.
With the PS5 and Xbox Series X both slated to launch this holiday season, Sony and Microsoft will have plenty more to show off in the months to come. Sony had clearly already planned to reveal its new console outside of the confines of the convention anyway, so the cancellation of E3 2020 likely will not affect the Japanese company. As for Microsoft, just as the Xbox maker opted to host a series of livestreams in place of the Game Developers Conference, perhaps it will have an online event to replace its E3 briefing as well.