The biggest trade show in video games is skipping a year. E3 2020, which was planned to take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center this June, is cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 coronavirus that is currently spreading across the globe, the organizers of the conference said today.
“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 Entertainment Software Association, the video game lobbyist group that runs the trade show, said in a statement to press this morning.
The ESA added that it will be looking “to coordinate an online experience to showcase industry announcements and news in June 2020.” Traditionally, E3 has two parts. During the first few days of the show, from Saturday through Monday, major video game publishers like Microsoft and Ubisoft hold press conferences to showcase trailers announce their latest games, while from Tuesday through Thursday, the show floor opens for business deals and video game demos. The first part will be far easier to replicate than the second. Microsoft has already announced an Xbox digital event for this year, as has Ubisoft.
This year, a newcomer planned to enter the field. Warner Bros. Games was preparing to host an E3 press conference for the first time, according to three people familiar with the publisher’s plans. There, WB Games had planned to talk about a number of much-anticipated games including a new Batman, a Harry Potter game that had leaked in 2018, and the next game from Arkham developers Rocksteady Studios. It remains to be seen whether Warner Bros. will instead hold its own digital event or do something else entirely.
E3, which has been running in various forms since 1995, has been dealing with an existential crisis this year. After years of operating as an industry-only event, the show opened to the public in 2017, selling thousands of fans on the fantasy of getting to play games early. The ESA found itself entangled in conflicts with a number of parties, though, including Sony, which skipped E3 last year and planned to do the same in 2020 even before the coronavirus scare. Many pundits and observers have speculated that E3 needed some sort of revitalization to stay relevant in the digital era.
It’s been a bad year for the ESA. Last year, E3 leaked the personal information of thousands of journalists. Earlier this year, video game personality Geoff Keighley announced that he would be skipping the show, where he has traditionally hosted an event called the E3 Coliseum, full of panels and interviews. And just last week, E3 creative director iam8bit also pulled out of the show for reasons that appeared unrelated to the coronavirus.