Virtual E3 2021 Awaits Game Publisher Approval - Comic Years
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Virtual E3 2021 Awaits Game Publisher Approval

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BY May 7, 2021

Not having an E3 event this year isn’t an option. There’s a side to the gaming event many didn’t know about before 2020. The planners of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Entertainment Software Association, are seeing the event lose its prestige year after year. Not having a 2020 event might even turn out to be a good thing. People seem to miss the event that so many of us slowly saw as more pageantry than pressing gaming news reveals. The prospect of a virtual E3 2021 makes sense to everyone, but will publishers feel like going it alone again in terms of summer showcases?

A Shaky E3 Return

virtual e3 2021 Image Credit: E3

Way, way back in the past, 7 months ago, we didn’t get to experience the traditional E3 festivities. E3 was canceled for coronavirus concerns in 2020. In all honesty, the decision probably left a lot of planners at the ESA feeling relieved. A ton of controversy surrounding the falling out with E3 veteran planner Geoff Keighley surrounding the direction of the event. Furthermore, an E3 2020 leak showed the event wanted to make a dramatic shift in content. Instead of appealing to fans, the push to host and cater to influencers would leave the event feeling quite different. COVID-19 pushed these concerns back a year, but here we are again.

An in-person event in Los Angeles likely won’t happen at any time in 2021, let alone the summer. VGC reported yesterday that a virtual E3 2021 seemed to be the route the planners wanted to go. For most of the people who tune in to E3, this doesn’t change things. I for one “attend” E3 every year from my desk and join the live streams. I still get to report on the event, but I do it from home. That will be the reality for everyone this year if the ESA can get publishers to agree to the format. Many of those same publishers put on their own showcases last summer. The question now is whether or not going it alone in your own, individual showcase proves more beneficial.

Is a Virtual E3 2021 Better Than Individual Publisher Showcases and Events?

virtual e3 2021 Image Credit: The Game Awards

EA’s State of Play and Ubisoft Forward are just two examples of major showcases put on last summer. They got their own little block of time in our consciousness. The same goes for Sony and Microsoft, who spent the summer playing chicken over who would release their next-gen console prices first. The fact of the matter is that the gaming community who doesn’t attend E3 in person didn’t really miss out on anything. The grand stage on which so many of our favorite publishers present has its fun perks. Live surprises are always fun to watch play out. There are also headaches when things don’t work well, or the dread of an audience responding poorly to a game reveal.

VGC reported that the asking price for a company wanting to get a spot in the E3 schedule is a “six-figure sum.” You can put on your own showcase for significantly less money and have more control over its contents and presentation. In my eyes, I don’t see why an E3 exists anymore if this is the case for publishers. As far as attendees go, the main perk of going to the event in-person is to play the game demos and see new tech. This sort of expo can certainly still operate but without the added stress of having live presentations to put on as well.

The end of E3 as we know it might work out well for everyone. It just depends on whether or not the ESA is comfortable relinquishing its status as the premier gaming event of the year. With things like Summer of Games and The Game Awards, both of which are Geoff Keighly productions ironically, that status might already belong to someone else as it is.

Featured Image Credit: E3


Taylor is the Gaming Editor of Comic Years and a lifelong fan of video games. He holds two degrees in Political Communication and wrote a Master's Thesis on resistance movements, race, and the exploitation of college athletes. His wife and two Toy Australian Sheppards keep him sane.


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