Rumor: Digital E3 Event Hinges on ESA Membership Approval

Video Game Chronicles reported today that E3 is planning on moving forward with a digital event, but the event hinders on approval by the Electronic Software Association’s membership, which is comprised of major video game companies.

Back in April 2020, there was word that the 2021 E3 event, slated for June 15-17, would be a “reimagined event,” so the rumor isn’t particularly surprising. The news came shortly after the official cancelation of E3 2020.

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“According to E3 2021 pitch documents sent to games publishers and seen by VGC, the ESA has now outlined its proposals for this year’s event, which would see three days of live-streamed coverage held during the previously announced dates of June 15-17,” VGC Editor-in-Chief Andy Robinson reported.

The proposed event would include multiple two-hour keynote presentations from games partners, an awards show, a preview night to be held on June 14 in addition to smaller streams from publishers, influencers and media partners.

The document said that in the week leading up to the broadcasted event, media previews would take place in addition to demos released on consumer platforms.

“The ESA also says it will allow partner companies to remotely stream playable game demos to the media across “thousands” of scheduled meetings, with one-to-one assistance from developers,” Robinson wrote. “Many companies have used similar on-demand streaming solutions during the pandemic to allow the media to remotely play their games for preview purposes.”

The proposal hinders on the approval of the ESA’s membership, which includes “the industry’s biggest games companies and who have significant influence over the direction of the show.”

E3 has been forced to evolve over the years as we have seen major publishers like Sony, EA and Activision choosing not to participate and others like Nintendo have moved to a digital keynote presentation. The event was media and industry only from the inaugural show in 1995 through 2017, when the event offered general admission for the first time.

Prior to the cancelation of the 2020 E3, worry about the quality of the event was circulating after long-time collaborator Geoff Keighley stepped away from the event for the first time since 1995 citing disagreement over direction. Keighley coordinated and launched the massively successful Summer Game Fest in 2020 and confirmed to VGC that the event will take place this summer as well.

“It’s unclear how many publishers have signed up for E3 2021’s digital event, though at least one major games company VGC spoke to indicated that it would continue to run its own separate digital showcase, rather than paying the six-figure sums required to join E3 2021’s schedule,” Robinson wrote.

In a statement by the ESA to VGC, the ESA said it would be sharing details soon and that it is having “great conversations” with developers and publishers with no confirmation on who would be attending so far.

The official E3 Twitter sent out a note mid-afternoon that organizers are excited to share “the full picture of the E3 2021 experience.”