We were certainly hoping things would change enough for it not to be the case, but it seemed largely inevitable. E3 2021 has been canceled, at least in its traditional form, with the Board of Los Angeles Department of Convention and Tourism Development Commissioners planning some sort of digital replacement to be broadcast from the city.
The news, shared by VGC and available as part of an 84-page presentation on the city’s official website, lists E3 2021 as a “canceled live event in 2021,” with potential broadcast options at LA Live and/or the Los Angeles Convention Center. The same update says the city is still working on the license for the next two years’ conferences.
We did already know that the ESA was considering doing a very different sort of E3 for 2021, per a statement it gave to GameSpot earlier this month. The organization said it was “transforming the E3 experience for 2021” and added that it would share details on publishers’ involvement in the event soon.
Former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime didn’t sound too keen on the ESA’s plans, saying in an interview with Gamertag Radio that it didn’t sound like it could replicate what the traditional E3 did in terms of actually letting people play games. Geoff Keighley tried to do this with a separate Summer Game Fest event last year, giving viewers a chance to also try demos for games they saw.
With E3 2020 canceled last year, companies like Microsoft and Ubisoft opted for separate, unaffiliated presentations where they announced news games and gave demonstrations. They were spread out significantly more than the typical E3 conferences, which take place over just a few days.
Holding an in-person E3 event this year would be especially dangerous if the show had stuck with its open-to-the-public approach that began a few years ago. Prior to this, it was an industry-only event, but interested players were able to buy tickets and attend beginning in 2017.