Just because E3 2020 is canceled doesn’t mean everything developers were going to show there has suddenly disappeared. While no digital version of E3 is in the works, other companies and organizations have stepped up with their own virtual events to deliver news on their latest plans and upcoming games.
This article was originally published on 5/11/20.
Unlike E3, which traditionally runs for only one week in June, these replacement events are scattered throughout the upcoming months. Some are set for when E3 originally would have occurred. Others, like Ubisoft’s “Forward” stream, will happen later in the summer. Many questions remain, too, such as, when Nintendo will hold its next big Direct webcast and when Sony will finally reveal the PS5.
However this year’s not-E3 shakes out, it’ll be one of the last chances to hear about what everyone has planned for the next generation of gaming consoles before they finally arrive. Here’s the list of everything we currently do know about which we’ll update as more plans get finalized:
Announced at the start of May, Summer Game Fest is a months-long digital event organized by Game Awards presenter Geoff Keighley. It’s a bit unclear yet what the festival will include but we do know there will be game demos available at some point as well as individual livestreams promising new announcements. The first of those, called “Sunrise #1" will stream live on May 12 at noon. “Just to manage expectations the Tuesday game is something cool and fun,” Keighley said on Twitter.
Indie collective project Wholesome Games plans to show off trailers, developer interviews, and new announcements surrounding 50 “wholesome” indie games during a livestream on YouTube. The idea is to give cute, chill, non-ultra violent games some time to shine. That means spotlighting stuff like Ooblets, SkateBIRD, and Rainy Season. Consider it a nice apéritif before the rest of the not-E3 onslaught. The can watch the whole thing here.
IGN is doing its own months long Not-E3 festival called Summer of Gaming full of charity streams, speedruns, and celebrity Let’s Plays, but most of the game reveals and developer interviews are set to come during its IGN Expo livestreams. The first of these will take place on June 5 and is promising new announcements from Funcom and Merge Games, along with new trailers and gameplay footage of stuff we already know about like Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time. The second IGN Expo event is set to take place on June 8, followed by a third on June 9. (Update, 2:42 p.m. ET, 6/2: IGN has delayed the start of its main Summer of Gaming events until June 10).
After previously announcing it wouldn’t be at E3 2020, Sony now happens to be doing its first video game showcase for the PS5 around the same time its E3 press conference would have otherwise been. Sony boss Jim Ryan confirmed the event will run just over an hour and feature PS5 games but didn’t say whether or not the console itself would be revealed, let alone a price point or specific launch date. Hopefully Sony shows off more actual gameplay than Microsoft’s Xbox Series X gameplay event. (Update, 2:42 p.m. ET, 6/2: Sony has delayed it’s PS5 showcase indefinitely following mass Black Lives Matter protests. Update, 2:14 p.m. ET, 6/8: Sony announced a new time for its PlayStation 5 showcase).
Guerrilla Collective is a multi-day showcase focused on indie and mid-sized studios hosted by Kinda Funny co-founder Greg Miller. Taking place across the weekend of June 6, it will have two online press events, the first on that Saturday and the second on that Sunday, followed by a day of demos and developer interviews on June 8. Some of the studios attached to it are 11 Bit Studios, makers of Frostpunk, Larian Studios, makers of Baldur’s Gate III, and Versus Evil, the people behind The Banner Saga and Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. The folks behind Disco Elysium will also be there. Is it too much to hope that an expansion is already in the works? (Update, 12:42 p.m. ET, 6/5: The Guerrilla Collective showcase has been delayed until June 13-15. Instead on June 7 the group will host discussions with black developers about their games).
A one-off broadcast that sounds like it will take place during the larger Guerrilla Collective event, this year’s PC Gaming Show will once again be hosted by former StarCraft pro Sean “Day9" Plott and esports broadcaster Frankie Ward. Usually these play out as a bunch of people casually sitting around a couch demoing games from all different genres. Big,, unexpected announcements are rare, but the PC Gaming Show can be perfect for hearing fascinating insights about passion projects from the developers themselves. (Update, 12:42 p.m. ET, 6/5: The PC Gaming show has been delayed until June 13).
Technically part of Keighley’s Summer Game Fest, I wanted to break out the Steam Game Festival separately since this is actually when demos for some of the games unveiled at the various events will become playable. As the name suggests, the demos go up on Steam. This year Microsoft will also be part of the event, suggesting that demos for some of its first-party games could potentially go live at this time as well. (Update, 5:12 p.m. ET, 6/5: Steam Game Festival has been delayed to June 16-2).
Traditional EA Play events let members of the public play demos and mingle with influencers, but this year’s showing will obviously be online. The publisher hasn’t revealed what will be on display, but between EA Access coming to Steam sometime this year and Anthem 2.0 currently in the works, EA has plenty to talk about. (Update, 5:12 p.m. ET, 6/5: EA Play Live has been pushed back to June 18).
The Game Awards and iam8bit are partnering with Double Fine on a digital Day of the Devs event showcasing indie games and “larger scale projects.” The first leg of it will be in late June, followed by another on July 20. Both will feature the likes of studios such as The Behemoth, Sabotage Studio, Team17, thatgamecompany, and Tribute Games and include gameplay previews and new indie game debuts.
Sega is joining with Koei Tecmo, Nis America, and a bunch of other publishers from Japan and North America to share new game announcements, interviews, and gameplay demos in a digital showcase it’s galling New Game+ Expo. Hopefully we’ll catch a glimpse of an interesting JRPG or two. The entire thing will stream over on Twitch.
The makers of Cyberpunk 2077, originally supposed to come out in April, announced a livestream all about the now-upcoming game. Who knows what it will include? More celebrity cameos perhaps? Or maybe a Switch demake with an accompanying Amiibo? Whatever CD Projekt Red announces, hopefully it’s not another delay. (Update, 2:42 p.m. ET, 6/2: CD Projekt Red has delayed its Night City Wire event from June 11 to June 25).
Devolver Digital, which publishes weird and usually interesting games like Sludge Life and Enter The Gungeon will be holding its annual Direct after all. The indie label is promising new game announcements, gameplay reveals, and a few demos people will be able to try from home. Hopefully nobody dies this year.
Rather than sticking to the E3 timeframe from prior years, Ubisoft’s replacement event will take place in July. The publisher is still calling it an “E3-style showcase” though, and says it’ll include reveals of new games. In addition to finding out more about Assassin’s Creed Valhalla we will hopefully get a release date for Watch Dogs Legion. It was originally set to arrive in March but Ubisoft delayed it until sometime before April 2021.
Google’s Stadia video game streaming service launched over six months ago and it’s still not what many would like it to be. A lot of that has to do with its still shallow catalog of games. This month’s Stadia Connect presentation will be a good chance to show how Google plans to build out that library heading into Stadia’s one-year anniversary. We recently learned that despite all of its delays Cyberpunk 2077 won’t come to Stadia until sometime after its PC and console release. Meanwhile we still have no idea when to expect some of the big cross-gen games coming later this year like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on the platform.
We already got a look at some of the games coming to Microsoft’s next-gen console in early May, but that was just the first in a series of monthly events showcasing the company’s plans. While there will be one in June as well, Microsoft hasn’t said anything about it. Instead, the company’s promoting its July event, where it will focus on its upcoming first-party games. Microsoft went on a shopping spree in 2018 and now has 15 in-house studios working on new games for the upcoming Xbox Series X console. One of them is Halo Infinite, set to come out this fall and long overdue for some gameplay footage. Meaning, real gameplay footage. (Update - 10:20 a.m. ET, 7/6/2020: Microsoft announced its next Xbox Series X showcase focusing on first-party games will take place on July 23 at noon.)
The day-long marathon for new movie trailers and reveals gave fans a first look at the long awaited comic book games from Warner Bros. Montreal and Rocksteady Studios. The former showed of its Court of Owls-oriented Batman game, Gotham Knights, followed later in the day by the new Suicide Squad game from the makers of the Batman Arkham trilogy.
Geoff Keighley’s Summer Game Fest came to a head at Gamescom Opening Night, which due to the pandemic was online-only this year. It was a whopping two hours long with some world premiers as well as more in-depth looks at Fall Guys’ upcoming season two and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart for PS5. Other than that it was mostly further teases of games we already knew about.
Ubisoft has split its summer showcase into two parts. We don’t know much about what the publisher has left to show about its upcoming slate of games, but at least one is confirmed to make an appearance: Immortals Fenyx Rising. Previously titled Gods and Monsters, the game is set to have a “full reveal” during the upcoming stream. Maybe Ubisoft will also get around to more publicly addressing and apologizing for the recent wave of allegations of harassment and misconduct that have come out about influential creators at the company.
Originally set to be one single weekend event, Warner Bros. instead decided to split DC FanDome up into two separate parts. While the first was focused on new trailers, the second will consist mostly of the sorts of discussion panels you’d expect from a traditional Comic Con-style event. We still haven’t heard anything about Injustice 3, however, and with series director Ed Boon teasing a reveal of something in the coming days, it’s possible we’ll hear more about the game at FanDome Part 2.
PAX West is now PAX Online and it’s nine days long. There will be online panels, online tournaments, online concerts, and just about everything else you’d expect from a PAX. While events will be streaming live across three different Twitch channels, the event will also have a dedicated Discord for folks to hang out in. PAX Online organizers are also promising game demos, but it’s not completely clear how that part of the show will work yet. A full schedule for the event can be found here.
We’ve been waiting for VR to finally have its big moment for a while now. Maybe Facebook Connect will be the start of that? The social media company, which owns Oculus VR, has been snatching up game studios like Ready At Dawn, the makers of The Order: 1886. Facebook also announced earlier this summer that Oculus VR accounts will soon require Facebook logins in order for players to make full use of them. The event will feature a number of talks on a wide range of topics. Maybe one of them will be about what Facebook is doing to become a less evil company.
Will Tokyo Game Show be the event to officially bring the summer of not-E3 to a close? Or will hardware manufactures and publishers continue trickling out all of their announcements through a steady stream of monthly mini-events? Who can say. What we can say is that Microsoft will kick the event off with its own showcase, followed by Square Enix, who has been all but radio silent for the last few months. Lots of other Japanese publishers will also be present at the four-day event, including Capcom, Bandai Namco, and Level 5. Unfortunately, Microsoft has already confirmed there won’t be any next-gen news at the show.
According to a report by Bloomberg in early August, Sony is planning to have another PS5-oriented event soon. There are still a lot of questions about the PS5, and Sony is running out of time to answer any of them prior to the console’s holiday 2020 launch. Another PS5 showcase sometime during September seems more likely than not.
The summer of not-E3 also turned out to be the summer of not-Directs (sorry, these Minis don’t count). We’ll see if Nintendo changes that in the few weeks that remain.
Other events coming in the next few months are Devolver Digital’s annual E3-adjacent press conference, which is still in the works but doesn’t have a date yet, and boutique physical game publisher Limited Run Games’ press conference, slated for June 8 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Other publishers like Square Enix and Warner Bros. haven’t confirmed any digital replacement events yet, while Bethesda previously stated it would not be holding a digital showcase in June.
Update: 12:13 p.m. ET, 5/20: Added New Game+ Expo.
Update: 9:13 a.m. ET, 5/25: Added Wholesome Direct and Day of the Devs.
Update: 11:21 p.m. ET, 5/26: Added IGN’s Summer of Gaming Expos.
Update: 11:52 a.m. ET, 6/1: Added Sony PS5 event.
Update: 10:32 a.m. ET, 7/6: Added Devolver Digital event.
Update: 2:35 p.m. ET, 7/6: Added Stadia Connect event.
Update: 2:25 p.m. ET, 9/1: Added August and September events.