A recent report from outlet VGC, revealed that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has plans for Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2021 to go forward this year as a digital event from June 15-17, 2021. VGC obtained pitch documents from the ESA, outlining some of the digital event's proposals, which aim to feature live-streamed showcases across three days.
As the report notes, the ESA wants the event to feature an awards show, a preview night on June 14th, and several keynote sessions that aim to be around two hours in length. The ESA is seeking support from publishers to fill in the schedule for the digital event. According to the proposal, there are plans for the media to be involved and the ESA aims to provide demos for coverage if the digital event is approved.
Some details from the E3 2021 article:
– Plans have yet to be approved by ESA's members
– Geoff Keighley will not be involved again; will focus on Summer Game Fest
– No details on how many have signed up yet
– Apparently a six-figure sum is required to join the program
— Nibel (@Nibellion) February 8, 2021
Despite these proposals, the plans for E3 2021 aren't set in stone, as they need to be approved by the ESA's membership — which, as VGC explains — is made up of the industry's biggest game companies. In other words, it's possible the event might not happen at all if it isn't approved.
E3 has waned in relevance in recent years, as many major publishers like Sony, EA, and Activision pulled out of the show in favor of their own events. Publishers like EA and Ubisoft hosted their own digital events, EA Play, and Ubisoft Forward, respectively, in the summertime.
Following E3 2020's cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, publishers took it upon themselves to announce and showcase new projects in their own ways, taking a similar Nintendo Direct style approach — which is a much more affordable means to advertise upcoming games than it is to be present at E3. According to VGC, it costs “six-figure sums” for a publisher to take part in the proposed E3 2021 digital event, which could steer them away from participating.
It was also confirmed that Geoff Keighley, who you might know as the creator of The Game Awards, would once again not be involved with E3 2021. Keighley previously was one of the main faces of E3, but following the cancellation of the event last year (and due to a disagreement with the ESA), opted to begin Summer Games Fest, which is set to make its return this year, VGC confirms.
In terms of an official confirmation of E3 2021, the ESA said “we can confirm that we are transforming the E3 experience for 2021 and will soon share exact details on how we’re bringing the global video game community together. We are having great conversations with publishers, developers, and companies across the board, and we look forward to sharing details about their involvement soon.”
So, while it's not necessarily confirmed that a physical event has been canceled, VGC has spoken with “multiple” publishers — all of which are under the impression that an in-person event will not occur.