The entire world has been hit by the COVID-19 with multiple events getting cancelled to combat the spread of the rampant virus. Like all other industries, the gaming industry has received a gut punch from the Coronavirus as well. And now, after GDC and multiple other gaming conventions, E3 has succumbed to the virus as well as ESA has decided to call off the gaming convention.
Initially, there were concerns about a shortage of hardware supplies for PC and next-generation consoles. It was reported earlier that Sony is having issues with getting some parts for the PlayStation 5 which, in turn, will result in an increased cost for the upcoming console.
Since most of the hardware is manufactured in China, a country which has been hit the hardest by coronavirus, things are getting tricky for gaming hardware suppliers as they try to meet demands. However, according to reports, the manufacturing plants in China have started to power back up and things have started to somewhat revert back to normality.
The other countries haven’t had the same luck with controlling the coronavirus. The newer cases of the virus in the US alone have started to rise up by the dozens and this meant that emergency measures needed to be taken. So, in response, many conventions with hundreds of attendees where there was any danger of the virus spreading through contact got cancelled/delayed.
The first one to go was GDC, which was scheduled to be held between March 16th and 20th. Many other smaller conventions also followed suit by either straight up cancelling their events or delaying them. However, since E3 is still 3 months away, there were still doubts about its cancellation but now it looks like we won’t have an E3 for 2020, the year of new consoles, which sounds insane.
ESA cancels E3 as promoters and developers express concern
The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, has been a staple convention in the history of gaming for decades now. The convention initially started as a business oriented event with companies presenting their growth and plans to their potential investors. As years went by, E3 got rid of all the numbers and turned into a monolithic showcase targeted towards fans.
We’ve had some of the biggest console and game announcements at E3 in the past, including multiple PlayStation and Xbox generations. The event has become one of the biggest gaming conventions of the year with thousands of fans attending it every year.
Cancel your E3 flights and hotels, y’all.
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) March 11, 2020
Initially, the news of E3’s cancellation was not actually announced by the ESA. Instead, it was Devolver Digital, one of the big players and publishers at E3, that tweeted out telling people to cancel their flights and bookings for the convention as the announcement was imminent.
As time went by, more industry sources started to confirm that the event was indeed getting cancelled until eventually ESA released its official statement.
The cancellation comes as a result of a combination of things though. Firstly, there has been a serious directive from the government to not hold large scale conventions where so many people gather together.
Furthermore, the industry, which includes the promoters and developers, was also not quite ready to send out its employees to a convention and putting them at a risk of contracting the rampant virus.
So, the cancellation of E3 makes sense from a logical standpoint. However, we must not forget that this is arguably one of the most important years for video games in a very very very long time. We’re finally moving away from the current generation of video game consoles onto the next ones after a gap of over 7 years.
As we all know, E3 is always the catalyst that finally puts the next-generation console release cycle into final gear. So, the biggest press event of the year getting cancelled during such a crucial time would obviously have a pretty significant impact on everything. So, the question is, what happens now?
How will the cancellation of E3 affect new consoles?
As far as the release for the new gaming consoles from both Sony and Microsoft is concerned, they actually won’t be derailed that much. Sony had already decided to pull out of E3 earlier during the year because of their differences with the ESA paired with the defensive strategy of waiting for Microsoft to show their cards first.
So, Sony was not going to be at E3 anyway and it probably has a Nintendo Direct styled event lined up for later during the year for the reveal of the PlayStation 5 and upcoming next-gen games.
Things might get a little tricky for those at the Xbox camp though. Microsoft always makes a big bang at E3 every year and this year was expected to be no different. However, as far as the Xbox press conference is concerned, it was never actually held at E3.
Instead, Microsoft has always held its E3 press briefings for Xbox at the Microsoft Theater, which is a 2 minute walk away from the LA Convention Center, the venue for E3. So, Microsoft can still technically hold its press conference at its own theater. However, that show will probably get cancelled as well due to the same reasons as E3.
So, instead, Microsoft could just end up going the same route as Sony and have a digital only event showcasing the new Xbox Series X (and potentially Series S) hardware and all the upcoming games and announcements. Or, Phil Spencer could just present the same show in front of an empty auditorium.
While this does mean that there won’t be any fans hyping up the consoles physically, there will still be plenty of support online and it won’t hopefully won’t derail the next-generation console launch significantly.
However, a bigger question mark looms over the ESA’s head for next year. With Sony and many other companies already stepping away from E3 even before the cancellation, this turn of events means that other companies like Microsoft have a chance to test their grounds without spending millions at an E3 booth.
If E3 is cancelled, it's never coming back in the same form. https://t.co/NFYW00E5Dj
— Grimran Khan (@imranzomg) March 11, 2020
Many companies and consumers have already been asking for a change in direction for E3. If the developers manage to be successful without needing E3, this could potentially mean the end of E3 as we know it and whether that is a good thing or not is still undetermined.
In any case, we still cannot disregard the history and tradition that E3 carries with it and June is definitely going to feel a bit weird without it.