Rumours of the cancellation of E3 2020 went around yesterday, and it seemed certain that it would happen. Now, the event organisers, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has finally confirmed it. Both the websites for the ESA and E3 itself have the same statement, reflecting the message.
On both, the primary reason for the cancellation was concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak. No surprises there, as other major events before E3 have come to the same decision. Examples include the MWC and GDC.
In lieu of a physical event, the ESA is exploring the option for an online experience. In other words, an E3 that’s livestreamed instead of having you attend the thing physically. For those who have bought tickets for the physical event though, the ESA will be reaching out to them to provide full refunds.
E3 has always been an important moment for Team Xbox. Given this decision, this year we'll celebrate the next generation of gaming with the @Xbox community and all who love to play via an Xbox digital event. Details on timing and more in the coming weeks https://t.co/xckMKBPf9h
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) March 11, 2020
As a result, at least one exhibitor has moved their planned activities online. Xbox lead Phil Spencer tweeted that Microsoft will have an Xbox digital event instead. Same goes for Devolver Digital, but to be fair, their biggest announcements always came in the form of a pre-recorded press conference, so it’s not too big a change.
Hardest hit will probably be Warner Brothers Games, which was planning to host its first E3 press conference. Kotaku reports that the publisher was planning to reveal more about a new Batman game, a new Harry Potter game, as well as a new game by Rocksteady Studios, the devs behind the Batman Arkham series.
At any rate, the year is continuing to worsen for E3. It’s faced a set of is own issues even before COVID-19 concerns were a thing. This included high profile absentees like Sony PlayStation, which announced that it’s skipping the event for the second consecutive year.